How to Measure Customer Satisfaction With CSAT

Visibility into customer experience is invaluable. After all, customer happiness leads to success. Learn how to measure customer satisfaction with CSAT.

Article

Kimberly Powell

December 15, 2021

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Do you know how your customers feel about your products and services? How about the quality of your customer service?

The only way to find out is to ask. That’s why many companies measure customer satisfaction regularly. The most common way is by sending customer satisfaction surveys, which ask customers to rate their experiences and share open-ended feedback. 

A CSAT survey gives unhappy customers a convenient channel to voice their issues, and it allows the company to regain that customer’s trust before it’s too late.

In this post, we’ll cover the ins and outs of the CSAT survey and share some proven tips on maximizing your customer satisfaction data.

What is CSAT?

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures how satisfied your customers are. That can seem like a clear concept - but in truth, it’s challenging to come up with a single customer satisfaction definition. 

What is customer satisfaction? It looks different for every company and industry, but in general, it’s about how well your products, customer service, and brand live up to customer expectations. If you’re delivering what you promise and sometimes even exceeding expectations, your customers will likely be satisfied. 

CSAT surveys ask customers how satisfied they were with a particular experience or interaction with your business. This measurement is used to highlight problems or pain points, evaluate your relationships with customers, and find ideas for new solutions or features. 

CSAT surveys tell you about 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 one to five, where one represents very unsatisfied, and five represents very satisfied.

Customer satisfaction surveys 

Measuring customer satisfaction is easier when you know which surveys to send to gather customer feedback. 

You can simply ask customers how satisfied they were with a particular product or service or an experience with your customer service team. Or you could ask them about their satisfaction with your website or mobile app, your marketing, or your business as a whole.

Customer satisfaction surveys are easily customized to fit the needs of your business and your customers. But you should follow some best practices to ensure you are asking clear questions and getting actionable information back. 

When to use CSAT

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

  • Customer support interactions

  • Sales interactions

  • Customer onboarding

  • Conference and event feedback

  • Overall customer health and sentiment

  • Sales and product satisfaction

  • Website and online checkout process

  • General customer experience

After customer lifecycle moments 

Sending CSAT surveys after key moments in the customer journey can help you create journey maps and understand the most important pain points. 

You can use these surveys to measure how effective key moments in your customer journey are, such as the purchase process or user onboarding. 

Before renewals 

Most dissatisfied customers probably won’t tell you - they just won’t renew or repurchase. But if you don’t know there’s an issue until it’s renewal time, it’s too late to fix it. 

Sending surveys a few months before renewals can help you uncover problems and fix pain points for your customers, so they don’t cancel their subscription. 

Following customer support interactions 

After a customer speaks to a customer service rep or uses your online resources to solve a problem, you want to ensure that experience helped them and was satisfying. This is a great time to send out a CSAT survey. 

You can automate these surveys after a support interaction, so the customer feedback is timely and accurate. This can also be a good way to gauge how adequate individual reps or teams are for performance purposes. 

Following sales interactions 

The same is true for sales interactions. Asking customers for their feedback after they’ve talked to your sales team can yield valuable insights on the effectiveness of your sales reps and anything that might be lowering conversion rates. 

You can survey customers after both successful and unsuccessful sales interactions. What made the customer purchase or not, and why was the experience satisfying either way? Even a failed sale can be a satisfying experience if the customer feels the rep was straightforward and explained the product well - it might not have been a good fit, but still a positive interaction. 

Advantages of CSAT

CSAT surveys are an excellent tool to measure customer satisfaction at specific touchpoints. 

They can help your business uncover the causes of customer churn and fix those pain points to reduce churn rates. Since churn is expensive and hinders growth, CSAT surveys can improve your revenue and prospects for long-term success. 

And by allowing you to understand what customers love - and dislike - about your business, you can make the right changes to your customer journey to align with their wants and needs. This increases customer loyalty and improves the customer experience. 

CSAT scores also 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 review changes 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.

  • The product team 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 make 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 say how loyal or disloyal a customer is based on their response. You’d need to look to their Net Promoter Score® or follow up with the customer for more details to gauge customer loyalty.

  • 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. But note, you won’t hear everyone’s perspective.

  • It can be challenging to quantify levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction accurately. 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 essential to set clear goals around what you’re measuring and recognize when to supplement CSAT surveys with other forms.

CSAT survey best practices

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

The question asks about overall satisfaction with the customer service interaction. The five choices represent different levels of satisfaction: very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and very dissatisfied. We also added an open-ended question after the initial CSAT question. This free-form question allows customers to provide feedback. 

Surveys using the CSAT metric will typically follow this format, with an optional, open-ended follow-up question. 

Distribution methods 

CSAT surveys can be distributed in several ways. You can send them via a pop-up window in your website or app if your question is related to those sites, or they just completed an interaction there, such as chatting with a customer service agent via live chat. 

You can also email surveys to your customers. This is more effective when they interact via phone, and you’d like to follow up, or when you’re conducting a scheduled satisfaction survey. Email is also useful for product satisfaction surveys - you send them once customers have had time to use your product or service enough to give an opinion.  

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.

Timing and frequency

The best time to send a CSAT survey is immediately after a customer interaction. Being timely with surveys ensures the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind, making the feedback more accurate. 

You can also develop a cadence of triggering surveys to check long-term satisfaction, such as sending a CSAT survey about overall satisfaction every six months. 

What is a good CSAT score? 

What is considered a good CSAT score varies by industry. But in general, a healthy score is between 75-85%. That means more than three out of four customers are satisfied with your customer experience, which is good. 

You should also review industry benchmarks for CSAT to see how you measure up to competitors. Benchmarking is essential to know where you stand and how far you must go to excel in customer satisfaction and service. 

How to calculate Customer Satisfaction Score 

The CSAT question typically asks customers: “How would you rate your satisfaction with [interaction/product/brand]?” 

Respondents answer on a scale from 1 [very unsatisfied] to 5 [very satisfied]. 

Once customers respond, here is how you measure your score:

(Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customer 

You only include responses of 4 (satisfied) and 5 (very satisfied) in the calculation because it’s been shown that using the two highest values on customer feedback surveys is the most accurate predictor of customer retention.

This score indicates how satisfied or dissatisfied customers are with a particular service, interaction, procedure, or product—whatever the survey is measuring.

How to improve CSAT 

Given the importance of customer satisfaction, every business should be striving to improve their CSAT whether or not you meet industry benchmarks. There is always room for improvement. Here are the key steps to take to raise your CSAT.  

Use the data to create an action plan 

Once you have gathered and analyzed customer satisfaction data, you need to create an action plan. The point of CSAT is not just to understand where you are now but to use this information to make tangible improvements to your customer experience. 

Your action plan should include specific steps based on the data and who is responsible for implementing these changes. 

After implementation of the action plan, re-measure 

When your action plan is complete, it’s time to put changes in place. Be sure to continue measuring customer satisfaction around the interactions or touchpoints where changes were made - you need to measure your progress over time. 

The data you collect should tell you whether your changes are having the desired impact or not. Continually measuring will determine whether you need to adjust your action plan or stay the course. 

Be agile and continue to adjust as needed 

Improving your CSAT is not a one-and-done deal - it requires an agile approach. Customer needs and expectations change, the competitive landscape shifts, and your business evolves as well. To keep your CSAT high over time, you need to measure and adjust consistently.  

How does CSAT differ from other customer satisfaction metrics? 

CSAT is the most popular way to measure customer satisfaction - but it’s not the only way. Your CX team should also measure a few other customer satisfaction metrics to get a holistic overview.  

Net Promoter Score (NPS) 

NPS measures customer loyalty rather than satisfaction. This is important because customers might feel satisfied - their needs are being met - but not so delighted that they’re loyal in the face of new competitors. 

Measuring NPS and CSAT will give you a clearer view of the strength of your relationship with your customers. 

Customer Effort Score (CES) 

CES gauges how easy you make it for customers to do business with your company. Even if customers love your products, they won’t be loyal or satisfied if it is difficult to solve problems or ask questions - or even make a purchase. 

Customers who feel that your company makes things difficult may grow to resent you or simply give up interacting with your business altogether. While ease is not the only thing that customers look for, efficient and consistent processes ensure that the main reasons for customer dissatisfaction aren’t a factor. 

Ideally, you should measure all three customer satisfaction metrics to get a well-rounded picture of your customer experience. CSAT is a very direct way to assess satisfaction, but satisfaction isn’t the whole picture - even though it’s important. 

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 do something meaningful. 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 can establish a baseline for customer satisfaction. You can then determine the initiative’s success based on how it impacts the customer experience

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*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.