Customer Sentiment Measurement: Activate the Silent Majority
In our sixth and final installment of The NEW App Marketing Metrics, we’re once again visiting a favorite metric of app publishers everywhere (this time, customer satisfaction measurement) and proposing a few tips on how we can update the metric to give marketers the robusticity and accuracy needed for success in 2016 and beyond.
Unlike the other metrics in this series, however, we have absolutely no qualms with customer satisfaction. Understanding how your customers perceive your app, marketing, and other elements of your brand is a critical prerequisite of improvement. Only by understanding what your customers love and hate can you start to design for the customer.
What we do have a problem with is the measurement of customer satisfaction. Traditional customer satisfaction is largely reactive, with companies only hearing from those customers who proactively seek them out. The result is a biased idea of customer satisfaction. You’re hearing from those customers who have self-selected to be part of your pool, not your typical customer. In this final installment, we discuss why traditional notions of customer satisfaction are biased, the inherent dangers of biased feedback, and our solution for collecting customer insights that better speak to the needs of all of your customers.
Squeaky wheels and the problem with traditional customer satisfaction measurement
Today, the average publisher is lucky if it has heard from even 1% of its app’s customers. Mobile app customers are hard-pressed to leave feedback in any form, and the wall between customers, publishers, and the app stores makes it all-too-easy to forget that there are real people on both ends of the app.
A national consumer survey we conducted last year sheds some light on the reason we hear from so few of our app’s customers:
- The process of leaving an App Store review (often, the only channel available for customer-to-publisher communication) takes no fewer than six steps, including requiring the customer to exit the app, launch the App Store, and log in. The whole process can easily take longer than the average 5-minute app session.
- As a result, only those customers who really have something to say will take the time to leave a review. The vast majority of your customers, who neither adore nor detest your app, have no incentive to go through this six-step process.
- Of those who do leave reviews, they are 56% likelier to invest the time to review an extremely negative experience than an extremely positive one.
Together, these findings confirm something we’ve long speculated. The average app’s customer engagement resembles a bell curve, with a great unknown covering the first two or even three standard deviations, representing the “silent majority” of customers from whom you have yet to receive feedback.
But while your lovers and haters are certainly two groups worth your attention, the danger lies in forgetting that these two groups are not representative of your average customer. By catering to your 5-star reviewers, you can increase profits from your most loyal 1%. By catering to your 1-star reviewers, you can increase retention within your most critical 1%. Yet, catering to neither group will create a better experience for the 98% of customers that lie somewhere between these two extremes.
Ultimately, you’ll find yourself chasing a red herring, prioritizing features that your average customer has no need for or investing limited resources into areas that only a few, albeit vocal, customers really desire. In the end, you’ll be left with a lot of requests but no real insight into the holistic voice of the customer.
Taking the bias out of customer satisfaction measurement
Collecting better, more representative customer data requires understanding the difference between feedback and measurement. According to the Harvard Business Review,
Measuring the voice of the silent majority starts with understanding the difference between collecting feedback and measuring the customer experience. Feedback is opt-in, and inherently reactive, because businesses focus on addressing the issues raised by the “squeaky wheels.” Measurement is random and representative, which allows businesses to prioritize changes based on everyone’s experience: lovers, haters, and those who fall somewhere in between.
The opt-in feedback HBR describes is the cornerstone of traditional customer satisfaction measurement. This feedback, often taking the form of ratings, reviews, or customer support queries, is the lowest-hanging fruit of the customer insights world. It comes naturally whenever customers feel the need to communicate their experience, typically after they’ve had an incredibly positive experience or an incredibly negative one. Yet, these aren’t your average customers. They’re the outliers in your customer satisfaction gamut, and their opinions—while valuable—do not speak to the needs of your greater customer-base.
So how do you go about conducting a random and representative measurement? By planting new seeds for customer communication and removing any barriers to feedback.
Those customers that actively seek you out, your opt-in feedback, have a reason to go through the cumbersome six-step app review process. Your average customer, someone whose review may simply read “meh,” has a harder time justifying taking that much time out of their app session to leave a review.
Instead of settling for the lowest-hanging fruit, those publishers who succeed in 2016 will be the ones who plant new seeds for customer communication and engage a greater, more representative portion of their audience. They’ll be the ones who remove any barriers to communication so that leaving feedback isn’t a hassle.
There are many ways to do this, but we’ve found one of the most effective to be posing a simple question: Do you love this app?
Customers who see this prompt can respond in one of three ways: Saying yes, saying no, or dismissing the prompt. Each response indicates something different about their experience:
- If they said yes, they love your app. Once you know this statistic, you can dive deeper, using an NPS+ approach, to ask why they love your app—and use those insights to recognize your app’s most valuable features. This second, more open-ended question will help you make sense out of the first, and turn your random measurement into actionable, opt-in feedback.
- If they said no, they feel your app could be improved. Again, you can dive deeper in a subsequent prompt by asking what could be improved.
- If they dismissed the prompt, they fall into the “meh” category in the middle of your customer satisfaction curve. Although most customers will answer either yes or no, understanding your dismissal ratio allows you to understand and control for any biases in your customer satisfaction measurement. If 75 customers say they love your app and 25 don’t, you have a 75% satisfaction rate. If, however, you know that an additional 50 dismissed your prompt, you know that there is more work to be done and can send subsequent surveys and quantitative questionnaires to explore what it takes to turn those “mehs” into fans.
However you come to engage the silent majority, you’ll soon be rewarded with insights into the wants and needs of your customers. Dictated by neither extreme, these insights can guide your product roadmap in a way that improves the experience for all customers, building loyalty, earning love, and creating value along the way.
And that’s a wrap!
Thus concludes our six-part series on 2016’s new app marketing metrics (download the complete eBook here). Over the past month and a half, we looked at six of the most prominent metrics in the app marketer’s toolkit and proposed new ways to ‘update’ these metrics to stand up to whatever 2016 throws our way.
With over 1,000 new apps added each and every day, the mobile app industry is a constant state of change. Maintaining your share of this massive market requires knowing your numbers—and more importantly, your customers. It requires understanding your numbers and optimizing for ROI. And it requires metrics up for the job.
What metrics you believe are long overdue for an update? Share your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll weigh in with our own tips for a metrics makeover.