Everything seemed fine with that long-time customer, but suddenly they’ve dropped your MSP services and gone with a competitor, and you’re not sure why.
It may be because while they “liked” your company, they didn’t “love” you. So that lack of emotional attachment to your brand made it easy for them to be stolen away by someone else.
Any type of relationship has emotions attached because that’s how humans work. If you’re not on top of your company’s online sentiment (how people truly feel about you), then you could end up losing business to other IT shops that are.
What is Online Sentiment?
First, let’s take a look at what online sentiment is and how it differs from standard tech business reviews and ratings.
While a star rating is an indicator of how customers feel about your business, it doesn’t really capture the feeling or emotion behind that star.
Online sentiment is all about emotions. Does someone like you or do they really, really like you? That one small difference can send a customer packing if they get a better offer or keep them sticking with you no matter what.
You can think of online sentiment as reading between the lines when you’re looking at one of your reviews. It goes deeper into HOW you’re being talked about online and taps into emotional keywords.
Digging into the Emotions
An easy way to conceptualize online sentiment is to think about how Facebook changed the “Like” on a post from just one type of Like (the thumbs up) into a number of different emotions to choose from.
Before they did that, you couldn’t really tell what someone thought about a post. Did they just think it was cool, did they think it was funny, did they hate it? Once Facebook unleashed all the other emotional options, you got a much better feeling of the “online sentiment” for a particular post.
Here’s an example of how two great reviews are actually very different when it comes to online sentiment.
Review 1: “We enjoyed working with Tony’s IT Shop. They did just what we needed them to do and were very efficient.”
Review 2: “We loved working with Tony’s IT Shop. Their technicians were so helpful and knew just what we needed. They were just fantastic!”
Both reviews could be considered great and both are worthy of being highlighted on your IT website’s front page. But when it comes to the online sentiment, they’re both very different.
Review 1 uses fewer emotional words than Review 2. They say “enjoyed” instead of “loved,” meaning they are closer to a neutral feeling about Tony’s IT shop than the second reviewer.
Additionally, Review 2 goes a step farther talking specifically about the technicians, meaning they made an emotional connection with them. Where Review 1 doesn’t mention them, just that the job was done efficiently.
If you were looking at these two customers to gauge which would give you repeat business, even through both were happy, Reviewer 2’s online sentiment shows that they’re much more likely to work with you again than Reviewer 1.
How Does Online Sentiment Help Your IT Business?
Someone can smile, shake your hand, and always be pleased with the IT work your company does for them. But that doesn’t mean they’re emotionally attached enough not work with someone else.
Knowing where you stand with your customers can keep you from being blindsided when someone suddenly cancels your services. It can also help you improve some of the tactics you use when working with customers to foster a stronger emotional bond.
Here are some of the key benefits of doing a sentiment analysis to gauge how people REALLY feel about your company.
Fix Problems Causing Customers to Leave
Just because someone didn’t complain to you directly, that doesn’t mean they were completely happy with your service. Only 1 in 26 customers complain. Others may just drift away, leaving you with no idea why.
Gauging online sentiment can help you spot problems with your customer service, like it being too difficult to reach a technician, so you can address issues causing you to lose business.
Improve Customer Retention
Customer retention is vital to building and sustaining your IT business. About 65% of a company’s business is from prior customers. It’s also very costly to lose a loyal customer.
It costs about 16x more to build a long-term relationship with a new customer than to keep an existing customer.
Online sentiment analysis is vital to understanding how customers feel about your company. It can also drive ideas for improving how a client feels about you.
For example, you might do the following to build stronger customer sentiment:
- Send thank you cards to new customers
- Take longtime customers to lunch occasionally as a thank you
- Ensure you’re calling MSP clients regularly to check in on them
Boost Customer Referrals
Many IT businesses count on customer referrals as a main channel for new business. If clients are only feeling slightly north of neutral about you, there’s a good chance that you won’t get a referral from them.
A customer who shows a healthy online sentiment about your company (aka has a positive emotional connection), will send more customers your way gladly.
Happy customers are responsible for referring an average of 11 people to a business. What happens if a customer is angry? They can do the opposite and give about 15 “anti-referrals.”
By understanding where your current customers are in regards to their online sentiment about your business, you can make adjustments accordingly to try to bolster those relationships and as a result, get more referrals.
Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy
When it comes to content marketing, if you put the wrong types of fuel into your marketing engine, that can mean fewer website visits and fewer leads. It’s not always easy to know which types of content are hitting the emotional triggers you’re looking for. You can end up spinning your wheels creating SEO-optimized blogs, videos, and other content that’s missing the mark.
Reviewing user reactions and comments (or lack of them) to the content you post or emails you send can help you find the sweet spots that resonate with people. You can then drill down into those to improve your overall content marketing results.
Know Which Company Relationships to Put More Time Into
Nurturing customers takes a lot of time, but if it pays off with long-time repeat business, its more than worth it. But you can’t always give the same amount of time and attention to everyone. So, how do you know which customers are more likely to stick around and which just needed a one-time job?
Analyzing their online sentiment can help you do that. How did they respond to your email thanking them for their business? Did they sound warm and friendly? Did they respond at all?
Those types of indicators of the emotional attachment a new customer feels for your business can help you know which relationships to target for more time investment.
How Do You Find Online Sentiment?
There are several places that you can find online sentiment for analysis. Some of these processes will be manual, but there are also some services that you can try to do the heavy data lifting for you.
First, let’s discuss what you want to look for when analyzing how customers really feel about you. What you’re trying to identify is the difference between positive, negative, and neutral keywords.
- Positive: Love, Best, Great, Fantastic, Awesome, Amazing
- Neutral: Reasonable, Adequate, Fine, No Problems
- Negative: Hate, Worst, Disappointing, Stay Away
If you’re seeing a lot of new customers use “reasonable” instead of “fantastic” or “awesome,” then that tells you you’re not being engaging enough for them to go from neutral to positive.
Here are several places you can look at to find how customers are really feeling about you.
Social media gives you the benefit of those different Like styles to gain even more insight. See what people reply to your posts and what they say about you on their own feed that might not be directly to you.
Do a search on your company name on any of the platforms to bring up conversations.
Your customer reviews give you a lot of information about online sentiment, so you want to dig into those for positive, neutral, and negative keywords.
It’s easier to do if you’re using a review monitoring service like Tech Reputation that can gather reviews from multiple online review sites and put them in one place for you to see.
How customers reply to your emails is also a good place to gauge their sentiment about your company. Look beyond the obvious to those emotional keywords that can give you insight into their future relationship potential with your business.
If you do annual customer satisfaction surveys, this is a great place to learn more about how those relationships are going and which ones need more nurturing based upon sentiment analysis.
Using Analysis Tools
When you research sentiment analysis tools, you can end up in the weeds a bit with big data and AI-powered algorithms.
But there are a few tools out there that can help you analyze customer communications, reviews, and online posts for those positive, neutral, and negative keywords so you can read the tea leaves of your relationship.
It’s All About Relationships!
Since the dawn of time, business has been about relationships, and online sentiment analysis is really just understanding better where you stand. When used as an emotional gauge, it can help you make your business even better.
Have you ever used sentiment analysis before? Share your story in the comments!