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Customer Emotion & Sentiment

How to Measure Customer Sentiment (What to Do With It)

Madeleine Doyle  //  October 25, 2022  //  11 min read

From surveys to reviews to social media, the amount of customer feedback brands collect on a daily basis can make you feel overwhelmed. It can feel daunting to sit on so much customer data when you don’t know where to start or why you should even be measuring customer sentiment in the first place. We’re here to help!

Download and save the full guide here

What is customer sentiment?

It’s not just a buzzword, we promise. Sentiment is at the heart of understanding, measuring, and improving customer relationships. It is the emotion behind customer engagement. When you monitor sentiment, you try to measure the tone, context, and feeling of customer actions in order to better inform business decisions. Whether a customer completes a purchase, leaves a review, or mentions your company on social media, there is always an emotional state connected to their action.

Customer sentiment can range anywhere from loving to neutral or angry. It’s a spectrum, and that’s why it’s difficult to measure without any sort of analysis or context. No matter where your customers fall on the sentiment spectrum, it’s imperative you understand not only their emotional state, but what drives it as well.

If you look at some of the world’s largest, most beloved brands, they’re likely using a tool to help them collect, analyze, and act on customer sentiment data. In the digital world, there is no longer is a huge gap between brands and consumers. The way in which brands make customers feel through their experiences and products matters more now than ever.

When it comes down to it, customer sentiment is critical because relationships are the foundation of everything we do. In both our personal lives and in business, building a strong, two-way relationship that is beneficial to both sides sets the tone for every future interaction.

What is customer sentiment analysis?

Sentiment analysis is essentially the process of collecting, analyzing, and acting on customer feedback. This can be the analysis of freeform, unstructured text (such as a repository of your app store reviews or comments on social media) or more linear metrics (such as Fan Signals or NPS).

In the following sections, we’ll go over specific tactics for analyzing sentiment.

Why is customer sentiment important?

Tracking customer sentiment helps you understand three major metrics:

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

An image showing how sentiment can help you understand customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement intent

Gaining insight into customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement intent can be winning insight for your mobile marketing and product strategy. The more you know about a customer’s current emotional state, the more you can tailor your marketing campaigns to provide an engaging, helpful experience and adjust your product roadmap to meet customer needs faster.

Customer sentiment analysis gives you insight for your mobile marketing and product strategy, helping your dollars stretch further and your ROI increase.

Reminder: You can download and save this full resource guide here

Use cases and examples

We’ve written a lot about customer sentiment and why it matters over the past several years. Now, if you Google sentiment analysis, lots of articles come up as it’s gained more popularity and brands are better understanding its importance. But what’s rarely discussed is practical use cases and examples of how to use sentiment analysis in real business scenarios.

Customer sentiment data can be used to impact many different areas of business, but we see most brands using this information to inform product decisions as well as marketing campaigns.

However, it can also help with other areas of business from market research to brand reputation and more. It’s critical to measure and analyze customer sentiment because of the large-reaching impact it has across departments.

1. Identifying and utilizing your fans

If you are able to identify people who love your brand, you can then retarget them to encourage desired behavior. An example would be sending an app store Ratings Prompt so they’ll leave you a high rating and positive review. You could also direct them to share the app with friends and family through referral links. Or perhaps you could send them to social media and encourage them to share their positive experience with their followers.

2. Winning back unhappy customers

One of the biggest struggles brands face is not being able to identify customers who are about to churn or leave forever. And even once they identify them, it’s often too late. If you’re proactively and consistently tracking customer sentiment of the same customers over time, you’ll be able to see exactly when a shift in sentiment occurs. You can then quickly follow up to either ask for more information (why are they unhappy? What can be done to solve their issue) and then offer them exclusive perks to stay with you (discounts, deals, extended trial periods, etc.).

3. Creating more fans by targeting neutral customers

It can be a struggle to convert neutral or non-engaged customers into loyal, highly engaged customers. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is by retargeting those who do not indicate that they feel strongly one way or the other about your brand. This historically has been a tricky task since most neutral customers also remain pretty quiet and rarely voice their opinions. We call this the “silent majority.” But if you retarget them and offer them special discounts, experiences, or deals, you can more effectively convert them into loyal fans.

4. Quickly flagging and solving product issues

If you’re consistently checking the pulse of your customer base through sentiment analysis, you’ll be able to quickly identify if there’s a sudden drop in sentiment. For example, if you measure sentiment before a new version of your app is launched and then check it again after, you might notice shifts in sentiment. That’s normal. But if there’s a huge shift in previously happy or neutral customers suddenly indicating they’re unhappy, you likely have an issue with your app launch. This would allow you to do a few things: Quickly follow-up with those customers to gather more information and then win them back, and also inform your product team of any bugs or issues that should be addressed immediately.

The biggest takeaway is that it’s not enough to just have the raw data of how many people love or hate your brand. You need to understand the why behind these feelings and emotions. Sentiment analysis allows you to dive deeper and find these answers.

How to measure mobile customer sentiment

It can be overwhelming to think about all of the ways in which you can measure customer sentiment in a meaningful way. Instead of trying to master every single channel, we recommend honing in on wherever your most valuable customers are the most (hint: this is most likely your mobile app!).

Image showing the tools to use to measure customer sentiment

If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: Tracking sentiment over time allows you to identify and act on shifts in sentiment. In other words, you can understand why certain people feel the way they do about your brand, and therefore take action to win them back

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.

Image showing detractors, passives, and promoters for NPS

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, customers can provide unstructured feedback. With this, 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 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?”

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:

Apptentive Love Dialog

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 in real time,  which means it is an excellent channel for marketers to take an instant customer sentiment pulse.

There are many benefits to monitoring conversations 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 track 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.

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)

Chart showing how Fan Signals works

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 had their trust 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?

Regardless of the medium through which you collect customer sentiment data, remember that all feedback is good feedback. If you have the right tools in place to capture, analyze, and act on this data, you’ll be able to track trends over time and create better customer experiences.

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.

Download the guide: How to Capture, Analyze, and Act on Mobile Customer Sentiment

Customer sentiment guide cover on tablet

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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