Visibility into customer experiences, good and bad, is invaluable. After all, customer happiness ultimately leads to a brand’s success. The only way to really know what customers are thinking is to ask. This is where customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys help.

Businesses measure customer satisfaction for many reasons. Customer feedback can guide sales pitches, product development, customer service practices, and more. And businesses see countless other benefits from surveying customers:

  • Insight into customer expectations
  • Customer opinions on where the business is succeeding or failing
  • Tips on improving products or solutions
  • Competitive analysis from the customer perspective
  • Customer happiness insights
  • Customer retention data (for example, if they’ll buy again)
  • Reasons for customer churn
  • Opportunities to increase customer lifetime value

While the importance of customer satisfaction surveys is clear, many businesses aren’t using them correctly. This article will cover how to measure customer satisfaction effectively with one of the most telling customer experience metrics: the CSAT score.

An Overview of the CSAT Survey

What is CSAT?

CSAT surveys measure customer satisfaction with a specific experience. A single question typically determines that: How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service you received?

Answer choices are graded on a scale, usually from 1-5, where 1 represents completely unsatisfied and 5 represents completely satisfied.

Once customers respond, the average of their scores gives you the overall CSAT score. This score indicates how satisfied or dissatisfied customers are with a particular service, interaction, procedure, or product—whatever the survey is measuring.

When to use CSAT

Any time you want customer insight in one of the following areas, you can use a CSAT survey:

CSAT survey best practices

It’s typically simple to create and take a customer satisfaction survey. Since CSAT surveys are so widely used, the live example below probably looks pretty familiar.

As you can see, one simple question asks about overall satisfaction with the customer service interaction. The five choices represent varying levels of satisfaction: very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, and very dissatisfied. We also added an open-ended question after the initial CSAT question. This free-form question allows customers to provide any feedback they’d like.

Surveys using the CSAT metric will typically follow this format, with an optional, open-ended follow-up question. These surveys should be easy for the respondent to take, wherever they are. That means mobile surveys optimized for customers’ phones are essential. If someone opens your survey on their mobile browser and it’s poorly formatted or fails to load entirely, you probably won’t get their response.

Advantages of CSAT

CSAT surveys are an excellent tool to measure customer satisfaction at specific touch points. CSAT scores show teams the impact their actions have on customers. This kind of insight can prove the success of initiatives.

Here are some common CSAT use cases across teams:

  • Customer service can point to changes in their CSAT score after introducing new support practices.
  • Customer success can measure customer satisfaction with onboarding and resources.
  • Sales can use post-purchase feedback to refine their sales process and increase wins.
  • Marketing can run competitive loss surveys that inform future campaigns.
  • Product can generate feedback on new and existing features.
  • Human resources can run employee surveys to monitor internal happiness.
  • Business owners can look at each department’s CSAT score to get a sense of their success.

The CSAT survey’s versatility and simplicity makes it valuable for every branch of business. If you’re looking to connect the dots in one or more of these areas, then CSAT is a great metric for you.

Limitations of CSAT

While CSAT can tell you a lot about a business, it doesn’t paint a complete picture. Primarily transactional, it’s best for measuring specific, recent interactions, not customers’ overall satisfaction with the organization. Here are a few more limitations:

  • CSAT doesn’t allow for much detail or depth. For example, you can’t really say how loyal or disloyal a customer is based on their response. To gauge customer loyalty, you’d need to look to their Net Promoter Score or follow up with the customer for more details.
  • The CSAT methodology often misses the neutral customers, who are less likely to take customer satisfaction surveys. There are a variety of proven tactics you can use to boost survey response rates. Just keep in mind, you won’t hear everyone’s perspective.
  • It can be difficult to accurately quantify levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. In other words, a customer may say they’re satisfied, but CSAT alone can’t predict whether or not they’ll stick around. As mentioned, this is why pairing CSAT surveys with a periodic NPS survey is the best way to get a holistic picture of customer health.
  • CSAT scores only accurately measure things that stay the same throughout the survey period. If the policies, products, or procedures you’re measuring happen to change while the customer is interacting with your brand, that will skew their perception and your survey results.

It’s important to set out with clear goals around what you’re measuring, and recognize when to supplement CSAT surveys with other forms.

How to measure customer satisfaction with GetFeedback

With GetFeedback, you have complete control over your customer satisfaction surveys. We provide free survey templates to get you started, but you can customize your survey design to suit your brand and needs.

We also understand that survey design is only the first step. Organizations need customer survey data synced with other customer records to actually do something meaningful with it. This is why we encourage customers to use our Salesforce survey integration to get the most out of the CSAT data they’re collecting.

Wrap-up

Finding out what’s in the hearts and minds of your customers is the key to running a successful business. While brilliant employees with great ideas help move a business forward, true success comes from making customers happy.

Regularly surveying customers helps you measure customer satisfaction and plan for success. Decide which key interactions to measure, then get feedback on each one. These customer satisfaction surveys should become a part of your release process and precede any changes to your offerings.

Surveying customers before a big shift establishes a baseline for customer satisfaction. You can then determine the success of the initiative based on how it impacts customer experience.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016. It’s been updated for accuracy and freshness.

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