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2020 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report

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Product Management

Enhance Mobile Customer Connections Using Emotion Data

Ashley Sefferman  //  April 16, 2020  //  5 min read

It’s an interesting time to be in marketing and product management. Globally, brands are anticipating the timing of return-to-business as the world grapples with COVID-19, as well as what the “new normal” will mean for customer engagement. Product and marketing leaders are faced with high levels of fear and uncertainty, oftentimes accompanied by slashed budgets. And consumers are engaging with brands in new ways, building new patterns, preferences, and loyalties.

With the global economy at a standstill, many companies aren’t sure how to move forward with their customer sentiment and feedback initiatives. But deprioritizing customer sentiment and feedback is not the answer. Your customers aren’t gone; they’re just at home and are engaging with you in a new way: through mobile. There are plenty of ways to connect with and serve them by understanding their emotional and transactional needs through your mobile channels.

Read on to learn how you can leverage customer emotion data—using the mobile experiences your brand already offers—to enhance customer connections while business as we know it changes.

What is “customer emotion data?”

Measuring customer sentiment, or CSAT, is the focus for most large brands to understand customer happiness and where to shift their product roadmaps. But CSAT is a lagging indicator that won’t help you much in dealing with current pressures around connecting with your customers, or responding in real time to shifts in emotion (which, according to Gartner, is the best metric for improving customer experience).

There is a new standard for measuring emotion and sentiment through your customer voice and feedback initiatives, which is looking at what Apptentive calls “customer emotion data.” We capture emotion data through Fan Signals™, which allows your brand to measure expressed sentiment across time and touchpoints, helping you identify when sentiment has shifted and why—down to individual customer IDs.

Apptentive Fan Signals
Customer emotion begets customer sentiment, and your data picture will not be complete without measuring them both. While customer emotion and customer sentiment are always connected, there are vast differences:

  • Emotions are raw while sentiment is organized. Depending on the context, emotion can be intense, quick, and reactionary. Sentiment, on the other hand, requires more time to think through.
  • Emotions are quicker to change than sentiment. One event can trigger an emotion, whereas sentiment is based on how emotions surrounding a topic (in this case, your brand) change over time.
  • Sentiment is typically measured positively or negatively; emotion allows for a wider range. Methods that measure on a flat scale, like NPS, are standard in gauging sentiment. However, these methods only tell a small part of the story. Measuring emotion data allows you to go deeper into specific feelings customers have, which can be as diverse as your customer base is.

In order to truly measure sentiment, you must understand the individual customer emotions that drive digital actions. Capturing emotion data gives product and marketing leaders a holistic view of their customer base, down to the individual level.

How to measure shifts in sentiment using customer emotion data

Today’s marketers and product managers have the power to utilize tools that help them reveal new fans, at-risk consumers, and shifts in emotion from customer experience over time in order to gauge sentiment—especially while digital is the primary, if only, channel customers can engage with your brand through.

To understand a customer holistically, we typically gather unique data both online and onsite. But as consumers engage with brands from home right now, our focus is on digital actions only. Using these online interactions, you can respond faster to revenue opportunities and build loyalty, while enhancing your own first-party data.

To capture customer emotion, we look at expressed sentiment based on digital actions and feedback. In measuring expressed sentiment, we segment customers into four categories:

  1. Fans Shifted to Risks: Customers whose expressed emotion has shifted from positive to negative, or from Fan to Risk.
  2. Risks Shifted to Fans: Customers whose expressed emotion has shifted from negative to positive, or from Risk to Fan.
  3. New or Repeat Fans: Customers who have expressed positive emotion for the first time by answering “Yes,” or who have expressed positive emotion at least twice in a row.
  4. New or Repeat Risks: Customers who have expressed negative emotion for the first time by answering “No,” or who have expressed negative emotion at least twice in a row.

Visually, shifts in customer sentiment look like this:

Shifts in Customer Emotion Data

Why customer emotion shifts

There are various reasons why expressed sentiment shifts. Shifted Fans are typically validation that you’ve improved your customer experience or made a positive change to your in-app experience. Shifted Risks are the opposite and tend to show that you’ve made a negative change to your offerings or customer experience that people aren’t happy with.

Ultimately, expressed emotion is useful when brands make a connection between the shifted sentiment and what’s changed in their in-app experience or product offerings. For example, if a large number of your loyalty program members suddenly don’t “love” you and shift from Fan to Risk, you can trace back to what changed in your in-app experience to understand—and hopefully correct—the shift. If a repeat Fan suddenly shifts to Risk, that’s the best opportunity your brand has to get ahead of retention drop-off. If the customer is a repeat Risk, you have less of a chance in being successful retaining them.

If a customer is consistent in their expressed sentiment, that also calls for a certain type of action. For example, if the customer is consistently a Fan who has not shifted, your brand’s job is to help turn them into advocates. Again, the converse is true: if the customer is consistently unhappy, your brand needs to take dramatic action to keep them as a customer or you are in danger of losing them to a competitor.

Our recently-released 2020 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report digs into industry standards for shifts in customer sentiment, shown below. Last year, the average number of New or Repeat Fans was 60% (iOS 58%, Android 65%). The average number of New or Repeat Risks was 31% (iOS 32%, Android 28%).

Shifts in Expressed Customer Sentiment

Start measuring customer emotion data now

In these uncertain times, one universal truth is that now more than ever, brands have a unique opportunity to be there for their customers by listening to feedback and making decisions based on expressed emotion. It’s easy to feel defeated by changes in customer behavior as consumers everywhere engage with brands from home, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Product leaders who embrace the shift in digital consumer behavior as an opportunity for positive change will set themselves apart in coming months.

If your brand’s shifts in customer sentiment fall below these benchmarks, or if you need guidance in taking the pulse of your customers’ emotion through your mobile channel, we’re here to help. Reach out to an Apptentive team member for a personalized consultation for where to start based on your current strategy.

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
View all posts by Ashley Sefferman >

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