Understanding Customer Sentiment at Scale: The Secret to Digital Maturity

Today’s businesses no longer compete on product, price and advertising space alone. The experience they provide to customers has become a leading differentiator, and deterrent, in purchase decisions.

Poor customer experiences cost U.S. businesses $62 billion in 2016, up $20 billion from 2013. In an effort to reduce lost revenue, Gartner predicts that 50 percent of product investment projects in 2018 will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

Now that business is often conducted online, optimizing websites and apps around customer insights is a key strategy for companies looking to get ahead of their competitors by offering an optimal experience.

Doing so successfully depends on two things. The first is gaining deeper visibility into digital customer experiences (i.e., understanding how customers behave and feel). The second is the ability to action these insights throughout the organization (i.e., being agile with improvements).

Taken together, these two things represent a brand’s digital experience maturity. From what we’ve seen, digital maturity spans five maturity phases, from companies that have minimal visibility into digital experiences and siloed departments, to those with maximum visibility and total business alignment. These phases feed off each other. The more visibility brands get into customers’ digital experiences, the more value they can see and the more they align their business around those insights.

Want a more mature digital experience? Focus on identifying and improving customer sentiment. As brands obtain a deeper understanding of how customers feel, the more agile they can be with improvements.

A Window Into Customer Sentiment

According to Decibel’s recent survey, a whopping 46 percent of companies still reside in Phase 0 or 1 of digital experience maturity. In these phases, companies are focused on descriptive reporting and are only able to determine the ‘what’ of users’ digital behavior and website performance. Those businesses still use shallow metrics like page views, bounce rate and visit duration to decipher customer behavior, missing the deeper insight gained from modern metrics that reveal customer sentiment, including frustration, confusion, and engagement.

Read More: Qualtrics Announces ExperienceWeek, World’s Largest Event For Helping Organizations Create Experiences That Matter

In order to attain a higher level of digital experience maturity, brands must reach a point of understanding and empathy around customer experiences. This is something that quantitative data on user behavior simply cannot provide. The key is to unpack qualitative data about digital experience. These value-add insights about user behavior can take the form of direct customer feedback, video replays of user sessions, user testing and anything else that involves deep, direct insights into customer sentiment and motivation.

By watching replays of actual user sessions and understanding digital body language, brands gain unprecedented visibility into how users feel throughout the digital experience.

As LexisNexis’ Global Head of Web Optimization, Mark Fassbender, says: “nothing makes stakeholders take notice like sending them videos of struggling and unhappy users.”

Uncover and Fix User Frustration

Measuring behaviors and metrics that represent customer sentiment, digital teams can establish a baseline of normal behavior across their website and app, thus enabling them to uncover trends in user behavior and surface opportunities for improving customer experiences.

For instance, this level of visibility allowed the LexisNexis team to follow an individual’s journey to determine exactly what in their session caused a positive or negative experience. Using advanced digital experience analysis, LexisNexis dug deep into its customer experience to determine why a newly launched website wasn’t meeting traffic goals. Analysis from the digital business team uncovered instances of user frustration across the website, detecting areas where complex messaging and placement of the checkout button turned away potential customers. Following this analysis, LexisNexis streamlined messaging and relocated checkout buttons – contributing to impressive growth across the website with conversion rates up 77 percent year over year.

By making it a priority to zero in on digital user behavior, brands have access to direct, timely insights into how customers really feel without having to ask them a single question. Once able to unpack customer behavior and sentiment, brands can fill critical gaps in knowledge to answer the ever-important ‘why is this happening?’ to follow the ‘what is happening?’ questions. As brands race to optimize customer experience, where does your company stand on the digital experience maturity curve?

Recommended Read: Thunderhead Named A Leader In Customer Journey Analytics Market

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