Surrounded by scandal – how to measure customer sentiment

Pick up almost any daily newspaper, watch the news or read it online, and you find there are few days without a story that paints the high street banks in a negative light. Scandals such as PPI, Libor, and bonuses have made 'bank bashing' great media fodder these days. With media outlets directing so much vitriol and hysteria at consumers this is bound to shape their views, writes Barrie Neill

Pick up almost any daily newspaper, watch the news or read it online, and you find there are few days without a story that paints the high street banks in a negative light. Scandals such as PPI, Libor, and bonuses have made ‘bank bashing’ great media fodder these days. With media outlets directing so much vitriol and hysteria at consumers this is bound to shape their views, writes Barrie Neill

To measure these views, SAS and Deloitte Analytics have collaborated to release the SentsCheck Index, a sentiment analysis of what is said about UK banks across online and social media. The Index provides insight on the events and experiences that drive customer sentiment around banks, analysing swathes of online data to identify key customer pain points, moments of truth and the times they occur.

Negative nation
In the last quarter, SentsCheck has identified over twice as many negative expressions of sentiment as positive ones about banks. Also recognised is a distinct correlation between the negative nature of sentiment and the volume of comments. The more upset people are with banks, the more vocal they are about it online.

By comparison, high scores in sentiment come from individual experiences rather than news driven events. Positive sentiment is motivated by a wide-ranging number of variables such as good customer experience, reception to products and reactions to marketing.

Prioritising the customer
The Index breaks sentiment down into three customer priorities; these are customer experience, value and trust. The quarterly analysis has found negative sentiment across the three categories outweighed positive sentiment by over 50 per cent, manifesting itself worst in trust, with over twice as many negative comments as positive ones. The better news for banks is that customer experience sentiment is largely positive and that bank help-desk Twitter pages represent popular forums for consumers to leave positive feedback.

Bloggers and social media users express more negative sentiment than traditional news across all three customer priorities. Also social media commentary was normally sparked by stories of poor customer experience, whereas news reaction is shaped by events that impact on people’s banking.

Strategic communications
Using the Index banks can observe in granular detail what motivates their customers to take to social media to talk about them. It presents an opportunity for banks to re-engage with customers, but on their terms. Big data analytics can further help demonstrate the differences between sentiment expressed in social media and news outlets, allowing banks to adjust communication strategies according to the channel used and help rebuild diminished trust with customers.

As more people take to social media, the ability to monitor what is said becomes increasingly important. Online news travels at record speeds and social media generates yet another data source for banks to monitor and analyse. Banks need to anticipate and react quickly when news begins trending and therefore big data analytics tools are critical to cut through the noise and really understand what is being said. This first Index is just the starting point for SentsCheck – SAS and Deloitte will issue regular updates throughout 2013 to chart the ever-changing sentiment of banking customers.

To view the latest results from the Index please visit the SentsCheck website.