How to analyze customer sentiment to improve customer experience

Customer expectations are at an all-time high:

60% of customers will switch to a competitor after a negative experience.
73% of customers want companies to recognize their unique needs and expectations.
52% of customers expect an answer within an hour of posting on a brand’s digital page.

As a business, you need to figure out how to deliver great customer experiences while keeping up with these changing demands.

Part of that equation is understanding how customers think and feel about your brand. That’s what sentiment analysis is all about.

In this post, you’ll learn what customer sentiment analysis is, why it matters and how to do it right. We’ve also included helpful tips and tools to get you started on the right foot.

Table of Contents

What is customer sentiment analysis?
Why do you need to analyze customer sentiment?
How to measure customer sentiment
Best tools for customer sentiment analysis
How to improve customer sentiment

What is customer sentiment analysis?

Customer sentiment analysis is a facet of AI marketing that involves understanding how customers think and feel about your products, services or business.

When a customer leaves a review, comments on your posts or shares a photo with your product, they’re expressing an emotion—such as joy, frustration or disappointment.

As a brand, your job is to decipher that emotion, paint an accurate picture of the customer experience and then use that insight to improve future experiences.

Why do you need to analyze customer sentiment?

Sentiment analysis is an integral part of delivering an exceptional AI customer experience. It helps you understand the nuances of emotion that drive satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

Here are five ways analyzing customer sentiment can help your business:

Monitor overall customer satisfaction

Happy customers leave good reviews. Unhappy customers leave bad reviews.

Sounds easy, right? But it’s not that simple. Sometimes, you need to read between the lines.

For example, if your app’s review section is quiet after a new update, sentiment analysis might reveal users are unimpressed, not overjoyed.

By capturing the emotional undertones in customer feedback and conversations, businesses can gauge satisfaction levels with greater accuracy.

Improve customer experience

Sentiment analysis offers actionable insights that can help you craft experiences tailored to the emotional needs of your customers.

For example, you might identify that customers find your landing page confusing. Writing clearer copy and fixing the design can help you improve user experience on your website and generate more sign ups for your business.

Understanding customer sentiment also lets you create targeted campaigns around topics customers feel strongly about and respond to feedback more empathetically, which improves their overall experience with your brand.

Gain real-time consumer insights

Sentiment analysis can help you capture instant feedback during product launches and campaigns. This allows you to react promptly, preventing issues from snowballing.

For example, let’s say a video game company drops a new game and monitors social media and gaming forums for player reactions. Within hours, they detect a pattern of complaints about a difficult level, which is causing players to lose interest.

Acting on these real-time insights, the company releases a patch to adjust the difficulty settings and posts tips for navigating the challenging sections. By doing so, they prevent early negative reviews from damaging the game’s reputation.

Build brand loyalty

Understanding what makes your customers tick helps you turn moderately satisfied buyers into loyal advocates of your business. Here’s how.

By identifying emotional triggers, you can create targeted campaigns around topics they feel strongly about, respond more effectively to feedback and keep delighting customers at every step of the journey.

Not only will customers have a great experience with your brand, they’ll appreciate you going the extra mile to exceed their expectations and bring them joy. As a result, you’ll reduce churn and keep them coming back for more.

Identify product and service gaps

Monitoring customer sentiment can highlight areas of your product or service that may need improvement or innovation.

For example, you might notice complaints on social media about the poor battery life of your tech product. You could roll out an update to fix the issue and potentially avert a drop in sales. Better yet, you could focus on improving the battery of your future products.

How to measure customer sentiment

You know sentiment analysis is important, but how do you actually do it? How do you measure the general emotion surrounding your brand?

It might sound complicated, but it’s really not. You just need to gather the right data and organize it in a way that makes it easier to interpret and act upon.

Which factors contribute to customer sentiment?

Before we get to the steps, let’s find out what type of data you need to measure customer sentiment about your brand. Here are some factors that affect sentiment:

Customer reviews: Online reviews of your company, products and services contain various emotions expressed via text and/or visuals. They can be positive, negative or neutral, and these nuances are often picked up by AI sentiment analysis tools. Managing these reviews with productive solutions can help your brand improve trust among customers and lower the negative impact of online criticism.

Brand reputation: On social media, every like, comment or post shapes your brand’s public perception. A viral post can make you popular, while a critical tweet can spark backlash. It’s an up-to-date snapshot of how much people like or dislike your brand.
News: Whether it’s an award, a product recall or a CEO’s statement, news can significantly impact how customers perceive a brand.
Marketing initiatives: When your campaigns resonate, they lift positive sentiment; when they miss the mark, they can confuse or even alienate your audience.
Cognitive dissonance: When customers’ experiences don’t align with their expectations, it creates discomfort known as cognitive dissonance. This psychological phenomenon can lead to negative sentiment if not addressed.
Competitive landscape: Customers always compare, and so your standing in the market—your prices, quality, innovation—all contribute to how they feel about your brand in the context of your competition.

These drivers can all influence how customers feel about a brand, and it’s important to track them all in order to get a complete picture of customer sentiment.

3 steps to analyze customer sentiment

Now you know what to look for. But how do you go about analyzing this data? Follow the three steps below for a systematic and organized approach to conducting sentiment analysis:

Step 1: Gather the data

First, you need raw material to work with—that means collecting brand-related information from every corner where your customers might express their thoughts.

This could range from online reviews and social media posts to customer support tickets and survey responses. Gathering diverse data sources gives you a well-rounded view of customer sentiment, not just isolated snapshots.

Step 2: Process the data

Next, you’ll need to sift through the data and prepare it for analysis.

This is where sentiment analysis tools can help. AI-powered algorithms can sort positive from negative, and suss out those tricky neutral comments.

This step involves decoding the tone and intent behind words, which requires sophisticated technology, like natural language processing (NLP), to capture subtleties and context.

Step 3: Visualize the data

Finally, you’ve got to make sense of all this information. Data visualization tools can transform your findings into charts, graphs and heat maps that highlight sentiment trends.

This step is crucial because it translates complex data into a format that’s easy for teams to understand and use, turning insights into action points for improving customer experience.

Best tools for customer sentiment analysis

Measuring customer sentiment can be tricky as it’s not exactly a quantifiable metric.

Thankfully, there are some powerful sentiment analysis tools out there to help you navigate the complexities in gauging customer experience and extracting actionable insights.

Here are three sentiment analysis tools you can use:

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management platform that offers sentiment analysis as part of its AI-powered social listening capabilities.

Refine your strategy by exploring customers’ feelings, thoughts and opinions on specific topics, competitors, products and more. Sprout gives you a visual score summarizing the average sentiment around your brand as well as a graph tracking sentiment trends over time.

Lexalytics

Lexalytics is a text analytics platform that helps you analyze sentiment by examining customer feedback across multiple channels. It evaluates the tone and emotion in the text to determine the sentiment behind customer opinions.

MeaningCloud

MeaningCloud offers sentiment analysis by processing multilingual content from various channels. It breaks down feedback into sentiments associated with specific topics or attributes of your products and services.

How to improve customer sentiment

Analyzing sentiment is just the beginning. You also need to know how to make customers fall in love with your brand.

Improving customer sentiment requires a strategic approach to evaluating customer experience and taking advantage of AI customer service tools. Here’s what to do:

Define the scope

Before you can improve sentiment, you need to know where to listen. Are your customers voicing their opinions on X (formerly Twitter), reviewing on Google or asking questions on live chat?

Pinpoint these channels and decide if there are specific regions or languages that need attention. For instance, if your product is hitting a new market, you’ll want to tune into that area’s local review sites and social platforms.

Defining the scope provides a targeted area for your efforts so you don’t cast too wide a net and dilute your impact.

Monitor the sentiment

Next, use sentiment analysis tools to continuously monitor these channels.

By tracking sentiment over time, you can spot trends and understand how customers are reacting to every little change.

For example, if sentiment dips every time you release a software update, there’s a clue to improve your change management process.

Identify the topics or themes

Leverage AI to dig into the feedback to find what’s really stirring up emotions. Is it your stellar customer service, or perhaps shipping delays are causing grief?

Identifying these topics helps you know where to double down and where to pivot. For example, if multiple customers express frustration over a specific product feature, that’s a clear signal you need to make improvements.

Create a strategy

Finally, develop a strategy based on these insights. Allocate your resources where they’ll make the biggest difference. Maybe it’s time to staff up your customer service team or invest in an AI chatbot to provide instant responses.

Also, determine the best channels for customer interaction—perhaps your audience engages more on Instagram than email—and tailor your approach accordingly.

Remember to train your team so they understand the importance of sentiment and how to nurture positive experiences at every touchpoint.

Using sentiment analysis to improve customer experience

What your customers think about your business directly influences its growth and success. Instead of just reading reviews, you need to dive deeper and understand the nuances of emotion to accurately monitor sentiment around your brand.

With customer sentiment analysis, you can get inside your customers’ minds, leverage emotional triggers and craft experiences that delight them at every step.

Sprout Social’s listening lets you track customer sentiment, conversations, behavior and trends across multiple social media platforms with the power of AI and machine learning.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a personalized demo and learn how to drive real business growth with Sprout’s platform.

The post How to analyze customer sentiment to improve customer experience appeared first on Sprout Social.