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What Is Customer Sentiment?

Long-term success for your brand means knowing what customers love about you — and what they don’t.

Bill Gates once said Microsoft’s approach to business was constantly asking themselves how to keep their customers happy: “Because if we don’t, somebody else will.” The customer may or may not always be right, but they absolutely always have feelings about their interactions with your brand. Knowing the prevailing customer sentiment for each aspect of your business can help you troubleshoot pain points or reinforce what you’re doing best. Because like the man said, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t be your customers for long.

What is customer sentiment?

Why does customer sentiment matter?

The benefits of customer sentiment analysis

What impacts customer sentiment scores

What is customer sentiment?

Customer sentiment is how people feel after an interaction with your brand. Emotions drive purchasing decisions, so feelings matter. A customer satisfaction score (CSAT) assigns a value to those emotions to help you better understand which areas of your business would benefit from changes, as well as what matters most to your audience. If you’re not paying attention to customer sentiment data, you run the risk of losing them to a competitor who will.

Customer sentiment surveys are usually designed to elicit simplistic answers, typically only offering three answer choices: positive, neutral, and negative. A sentiment survey might address something specific, like the checkout process, or be as general as “Do you like us?”. They’re not as precise as other satisfaction measurements like Net Promoter Score, but it’s nevertheless a valuable indicator of your business’ health.   

Why does customer sentiment matter?

It’s a simple truth that happy customers are good for business. Knowing what makes them happy, however, is often less clear. Codifying customer sentiment creates the opportunity to identify pain points in your user experience, which is crucial for customer acquisition and retention. It also gives you a window into the service you actually provide instead of what you intend to provide.  One-third of all customers will abandon a brand they love after a single bad experience and that number doubles after several bad experiences. Conversely, you can build trust and engender loyalty by signaling that your customers’ feelings matter, and proving that you’re willing to make changes based on their feedback.

The benefits of customer sentiment analysis

Keeping your customers happy is key to sustaining your business, but there’s more value to customer sentiment analysis than turning the dials to all smiles. Having insight into the predominant feelings about different aspects of your brand strengthens more than just your ability to retain customers. Here are other ways you can use customer sentiment analysis to boost your brand’s health:

Get a feel for your reputation

Customer sentiment is an effective method for getting a general feel for your brand’s overall reputation. Monitoring consumer reaction to your business across social channels and retail sites, for example, can provide an early warning that you need to address a problem quickly — or not. Tracking customer sentiment over time, you may learn there’s always a brief flurry of negativity following a change to your website or when you’ve run out of stock. Not reacting to customer sentiment is sometimes just as essential for your reputation as responding to it.

Identify areas of improvement

Even though customer sentiment scores are typically kept broad — positive, neutral, and negative, for example — they can still point you toward areas of your business that need improvement. If the majority of responses to a question about the onboarding experience are negative, that’s a clear sign something needs tweaking. The reverse is also true, however: you may want to think about redesigning a feature that receives overwhelmingly positive reactions. 

Uplevel the experience (and charge for it)

Consumers want to feel that their patronage matters to a business, and are willing to pay a premium for it. Customers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a product if the company offers a great customer experience and, perhaps more crucially for your bottom line, are more likely to try other goods or services from that brand. Positive customer sentiment has potential advertising benefits, as well: 63% of consumers said they’d share their personal data for a product or service they valued, which is especially important given the growing demand for consumer privacy and how companies like Apple and Google are accommodating it.

Strengthen customer service

Much of your business can be quantified, like the number of clicks it takes to buy something or the percentage of customer churn per month. Customer sentiment can assess your success in abstract terms that are not quite as easy to measure, such as the amiability of your customer service team. Quantity shouldn’t be a trade-off for quality when it comes to customer interactions; customer sentiment surveys help ensure the humanity doesn’t get lost in transactions.

What impacts customer sentiment scores

Every public-facing aspect of your business has some impact on how customers feel about your brand. Pricing, what you post to social media, the number of steps it takes to make a purchase, and customer service options are just some of the many, many different touchpoints your business has with current and potential customers. Increasingly, customers expect personalized offers that reflect their unique needs, delivered at the exact time that they need them. You’ll want to measure customer sentiment for each of those elements, though some will carry more weight than others.

It’s also important to keep your customers’ feelings in their appropriate context. Making your patrons happy is an appropriate goal, but not everything that would please them is a good decision. Slashing your prices in half would almost certainly be met with an overwhelmingly positive response, at least until it puts you out of business. A design change that irks users in the US may allow for your site or app to be localized into other languages, expanding your customer base. Remember that customer sentiment should guide your choices, but not dictate them.

Your customers want to feel as though their every interaction with your brand was tailor-made especially for them, even down to the ads they see as they shop. wappier’s AI-powered optimization engine models, predicts, and influences consumer behavior, keeping them engaged and enhancing their experience throughout the journey to conversion. Our personalized loyalty programs reward consumers for brand interaction and dynamically direct them towards next best actions at the consumer level .

Want to know more? Get in touch with our team to understand why predictive AI is the best way to ensure loyalty for the long haul.