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Loyalty & Retention

Five Ways to Track Customer Sentiment

Madeleine Doyle  //  February 24, 2022  //  7 min read

Delivering customer love starts with listening to your customers. To get a sense of how customers feel about your brand, you must start by tracking customer sentiment. But where should you start?

This post covers five ways to track and evaluate customer sentiment. Before we begin, let’s align on the the importance and value of customer sentiment.

What is customer sentiment and why does it matter?

Sentiment is the emotion behind customer engagement. When you monitor sentiment, you try to measure the tone, context, and feeling from customer actions. Whether a customer completes a purchase, leaves a review, or mentions your company socially, there is always an emotional state connected to their action. Customer sentiment can range anywhere from pleased or loving to neutral or angry, and no matter where your customers fall on the sentiment spectrum, it’s imperative you understand not only what their emotional state is, but what’s driving it.

Sentiment analysis is the process of collecting, analyzing, and acting on this customer feedback. We’ll cover all of the different ways in which to track customer sentiment in the rest of the post here.

In short, tracking customer sentiment helps you understand three major metrics that can impact your current and upcoming campaigns:

  1. Overall customer satisfaction: How happy are your customers with the quality of your product?
  2. Loyalty: Will customers recommend you to a friend and continue using your product, even when competitors come calling?
  3. Engagement intent: How likely are customers to engage again in a day/week/month/a year?

The more you know about a customer’s current emotional state, the more you can tailor and customize your campaigns and products to provide an engaging customer experience.

Five ways to track customer sentiment

Now that we’ve covered the importance of tracking customer sentiment, let’s move on to which metrics to measure. Regardless of your product or industry, there are five key areas to look at when tracking customer sentiment. Remember: You need to employ multiple strategies for tracking customer sentiment over time. Simply adopting one of these is not enough. So, let’s explore each.

 1. NPS+

No, not NPS. NPS+. There’s a difference. Let us explain.

Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is considered a leading growth indicator across industries. It is a measure of customer loyalty that can be benchmarked across other players in your industry.

To calculate NPS, companies ask customers how likely they would be to recommend a product to their colleague or friend on a scale from zero to ten. The product is then given a single score based upon the ratio of “promoters” versus “detractors.” If the score goes up, it’s presumed that customers are happy and loyal. If the score goes down, it is presumed that marketing and product work needs to be done.

However, NPS as a stand-alone metric isn’t enough to fully understand the feedback your team receives. You have a unique opportunity to gather much more valuable and actionable customer feedback if you evolve NPS to NPS+.

NPS+ is the simple solution our team devised to meet our customers’ needs while still sticking to our beliefs about actionable customer feedback. The goal of a Net Promoter Score-type survey should be to determine the path necessary to change detractors, neutral customers, and even promoters to strong brand advocates. NPS+ does just that. By simply asking customers, “Why did you choose this score?” after the traditional rating question and allowing customers to provide unstructured feedback, we have helped companies to contextualize the NPS score and to understand where their customers think they’re doing well and where they need to improve — and made the survey valuable and relevant for the end customer. NPS+ also gives you the ability to much better understand the sentiment and emotions your customers feel rather than just cold, hard numbers.

From now on, when you say “Our NPS is X,” ask yourself, “What does that actually mean?” and “What does this tell me about how people feel?”

For more tips on NPS+, check out our guide which dives into this much deeper.

2. In-app ratings prompts

Customer reviews are a great way to track sentiment, and in-app ratings prompts can help inspire customers to leave their thoughts on your mobile experience. Ratings prompts can be placed intelligently throughout your app to help understand customer sentiment, and typically look something like this:

Note that the ratings prompt uses the word “love” in the first question. When you ask a customer “Do you love…?” they are more likely to answer truthfully and emotionally, rather than responding robotically or automatically hitting the “dismiss” button. Here at Apptentive, we’ve carefully tested this language and flow with our customers to help ensure their strongest fans provide positive feedback in the app stores, and their toughest critics come directly to them with constructive criticism.

In terms of timing, it’s crucial to place your ratings prompts at the right times throughout your app. Despite the popularity of doing so, asking for ratings at app launch is generally never the best time to do so. Rather, identify a “point of positive experience” within your app to display your prompt. This could be between game levels, after sharing a photo, upon adding an item to a to-do list, etc. Finding the right time to prompt customers in-app is more important than ever before.

3. Social monitoring

Engagement across social channels moves at lightning speed, which is a great way for marketers to take an instant customer sentiment pulse. There are many benefits to monitoring conversation on social channels, including:

  • Taking a quick snapshot of your brand’s health.
  • Warding off crises before they get out of control.
  • Connecting with customer MVPs and influencers.
  • Noting trends and identifying their sources.

Your approach to social monitoring will vary depending on the platforms you use, but all social channels offer the opportunity for customer sentiment tracking. To start, try running a campaign across your channels and tracking the following metrics:

  • Comment velocity: How quickly is conversation moving around your campaign?
  • Comment tone: Does the campaign influence your community’s tone in a positive or negative way?
  • Reactions (“likes” or “loves”): What emotions are shared in reactions around the campaign?
  • Shares and mentions: How many shares or mentions does your campaign receive?

Due to the breakneck pace in which conversation evolves across social channels, monitoring all of the above on your own can be tricky. To help, there are many social sentiment analysis tracking tools you can use, but Sprout is our favorite.

4. Direct feedback

Most companies with a digital presence have a way for customers to contact them directly (think customer support emails, chat functionality, etc.). However, very few companies leverage these channels as a way of tracking customer sentiment, leaving a huge well of data untapped.

If you have a direct feedback channel between your customers and company, it’s important to figure out a way to assign some type of score to the feedback in order to measure customer sentiment. For example, take customer support emails. Most support systems come with the ability to tag and categorize customer conversations. You could easily add another tag and/or category when assigning conversations depending on the type and tone of the request as additional insight into customer sentiment. Your scoring system doesn’t need to be fancy; simply sync with your team to come up with a simple solution that will fit your needs and offer additional insight into how your customers feel about your brand.

Regardless of the medium through which your direct customer feedback is collected, it’s worth noting that all feedback is good feedback. Whether the sentiment is positive or negative, customer feedback is insanely valuable and should always be treated as an opportunity to learn how you can make a better product for your customers. Feedback is a gift and should be treated as such, no matter what!

5. Fan Signals™

Fan Signals™ are a collection of features that help you capture, analyze, and act on the feelings of your consumers, building critical emotion data over time. These signals enable customer segmentation tied to categories of emotion to help you predict churn, boost revenue, and retain customers throughout their mobile journey. Fan Signals™ are derived from recurring Love Dialog interactions (see #2 above), with consumers being characterized as either Fan or Risk.

Apptentive’s Love Dialog has been very effective in measuring customer love in the moment. As you capture data from the Love Dialog, Apptentive automatically segments your customers into one of several Fan Signals™ groups, based on their Love Dialog responses across the span of time. Over time and across customer journeys, signals are qualified as either:

  • New (expressed for the first time)
  • Repeat (expressed sequentially)
  • Shifted (from one state to another)

As critical as capturing emotion is to boosting mobile customer experience, so is taking action on that data. With Fan Signals™, you can trigger more precise targeting of in-app interactions and incentives, or drive external marketing campaigns through data portability. This added emotional intelligence drives new growth and customer engagement, increases lifetime value and retention, and reverses churn and competitive risks.

Fan Signals™ use cases

  • Adjust product roadmap based on customer feedback and emotion
  • Re-target shifts in emotion in real-time.
  • Reveal new emotion data behind NPS to improve differentiation, predict churn, and accelerate CX enhancements.
  • Reach out to customers who have their trust in you broken due to a product change or outage.
  • Retarget new fans on your paid channels to increase CTR and decrease spend.
  • Increase engagement with your promotions by tailoring your messaging across all of your marketing channels based on whether they are new fans, existing loyalists or new risks.
  • Send a promo code thanking your most loyal customers.
  • Ask your biggest Fans to rate your app through an in-app ratings prompt (see #2 above).
  • Recruit happy customers into a demo group or invite them to try new features.
  • Send a special survey asking your happiest customers to help prioritize features.
  • Send a special offer to engage with unhappy customers and prevent churn.
  • Create a survey to understand how you can provide a better product, service, or experience for unhappy customers.
  • Send a survey to learn about their experience – what changed that shifted their emotions?

Tracking customer sentiment helps give insight into how customers feel about your brand. The more you listen to how your customers feel about recommending your company, giving you a rating, engaging with you on social channels, and giving you direct feedback, the more customer love everyone is sure to feel.

Start tracking customer sentiment today with a free 30-day trial of Apptentive.

About Madeleine Doyle

Madeleine Doyle is the Senior Content Marketing Manager for Apptentive. No stranger to B2B tech, Madeleine enjoys translating complex concepts into easy-to-digest pieces of content.
View all posts by Madeleine Doyle >

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