Customer Satisfaction Score is a routinely used key performance indicator (KPI) that is used to track how satisfied customers are with your company’s products and/or services.
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a basic measurement of a customer’s satisfaction with a brand’s product and/or services. Marketers and brands can use CSAT to determine a customer’s level of satisfaction at key interaction times, such as the moment of purchase, the onboarding process, a support ticket exchange and a phone or digital conversation with customer service.

“Customer satisfaction is one of those things that must be left up to the customer to define,” said Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics. “Vendors or service providers often have a predetermined definition of what a satisfied customer looks like. The cost of having your own standards can be detrimental to your business because you can't account for the problems you’re blind to. It’s obviously important to have standards, but you should be more concerned with your customers' expectations.”

When Should You Measure Customer Satisfaction?

Marketers should have a basic understanding of CSAT strategies and concepts before exploring deeper ways to measure customer satisfaction and ultimately tailor marketing campaigns around it. The question becomes: When do I deploy customer satisfaction questions? Of course, there are many interaction points with your customers. Key moments to measure their satisfaction with simple questions include after customer lifecycle moments, prior to renewals or after customer support or education interactions, according to HubSpot’s Alex Birkett. 

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Customer Lifecycle Moments

Denis Pombriant of The Bullpen Group, through a post on Zuora, discussed key moments of the customer lifecycle. Marketers should consider these parts of the customer journey, he said, as opportunities to implement a customer satisfaction survey: 

  • Discovery - When customers identify a need and discover a solution.
  • Evaluation - Today’s customers do this all on their own, for the most part. It’s all about weeding out what you can’t afford and finding the right fit.
  • Purchase - Time to break out the wallet. The customer has committed at this point and hands over some change.
  • Use experience - Pombriant called the initial part of the user experience as “tricky” because there is a learning curve on behalf of the customer. It’s a good time to gauge a customer’s satisfaction with his/her new toy/service.
  • Bonding - According to Pombriant, customer bonding is the “accumulation of positive experiences that can come either directly with experience of the product or service, or from the satisfaction of having a problem taken care of promptly for instance.”
  • Advocacy - Customer advocates help recruit more customers through social and word of mouth. If your customers reach the point of advocacy, that’s a telling time to ask them about satisfaction and why they’re so satisfied.
Related Article: Tap Your Customer Data to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Measuring Professionalism, Resolution Rates

Client satisfaction score is the most important metric to benchmark success as it directly reflects clients' perception of services received, according to Brian Slepko, senior vice president, global service delivery for Rimini Street. “Rimini Street surveys its clients on every closed issue they raise with the support team to understand their experience with that case, how the support team performed, and ensure that they receive the necessary support desired,” said Slepko. “… Consider the granularity that this provides, Rimini Street's support team [they] can 'drill down' to see how a team of engineers performed for a specific client, geography or technology and how the client rated the interaction."

Its satisfaction surveys are based on the following. 

  • Level of knowledge 
  • Understanding of the issue 
  • Professionalism 
  • Responsiveness 
  • Effective communication 
  • Timely resolution 
  • Effectiveness of the resolution 

What is done with the data? Customer satisfaction data is then transferred to the senior level staff to understand the issues and improve upon for future cases. For every survey where the team doesn't achieve excellent scores, Rimini Street reaches out to the client that provided the survey to understand what the issues were and where the team could have done better. This data is then gathered and reviewed to ensure that the team corrects any systematic problems for other clients as well.

Related Article: Watch These Four Areas to Ensure Your Customer Experience Is Improving

Calculating the Responses for Customer Satisfaction Scores

Warren Paull, COO of CDS, said his team uses three measures to track customer satisfaction. 

  • Customer Turnover Rate - This measures customer loyalty through the rate at which acquired customers are leaving or not renewing. Customer turnover is calculated by dividing the lost customers over period by the total number of customers at the end of period.
  • Net Promoter Score - The NPS is a measure of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. It is based on a single question, How likely is it that you would recommend [Company X or product Y or service Z] to a friend or colleague? This question is then scored against a 10-point scale (0=Not at all likely, 10=Extremely likely). Responses between 0-7 are classified as detractors and responses between 9 and 10 as promoters. Net Promoter Score = percentage of promoters minus the percent of detractors.
  • SERVQUAL - This is a measure of the service quality a company provides to its customers. Based on a multi-item survey that takes into account both service expectations and service perceptions it provides an insight into the gap between the service level customers expect and their actual view of the service. 

What Is a Good Customer Satisfaction Score?

So now you’ll want to know what your CSAT numbers tell you. CSAT respondents can rate a satisfaction with their brand based on the following answer choices, according to Emolytics.

  • Very unsatisfied
  • Unsatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Satisfied
  • Very satisfied

Marketers can then take the average for a composite customer satisfaction score. Also, as Emolytics officials cited, CSAT scores can be delivered via scales of 0 to 100, 100 being total customer satisfaction.

This formula then can be implemented: 

Customer Satisfaction Score formula
PHOTO: Emolytics

Emolytics officials called this the “top-2-box” measure of customer satisfaction. It takes into account the two highest possible response ratings, “satisfied and “very satisfied.” Why? Some say “the two highest values on customer feedback surveys are the most accurate at predicting customer retention.”

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

There are many ways brands and marketers can deploy customer satisfaction surveys and tailor them for specific moments. HubSpot found some examples on how and when brands deploy customer satisfaction surveys. “Understanding your clients and meeting customer expectations will help you offer better products and services day in and day out,” SurveyMonkey officials said on their website. “How do you compare to competitors? Do customers feel like you offer value and quality? Would they recommend you to someone else?”

Here's an example from Skype:

Screenshot of a customer satisfaction survey from Skype

Related Article: Customer Success Evolves to Deliver Customer Satisfaction, at Scale

Customer Satisfaction Index

Want to know where some brands stand with customer satisfaction? The United States takes a deep look into this across many brands and industries with a thorough examination of customer satisfaction via the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The organization measures the satisfaction of U.S. household consumers with the quality of products and services of brands. It surveys about 250,000 customers. ACSI data is fed into an econometric model that benchmarks customer satisfaction with more than 380 companies in 46 industries and 10 economic sectors and government agencies. 

Difference Between CSAT, NPS, CES

Naturally, CSAT is not the lone method of measuring customer satisfaction. Many brands also use strategies around things like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES).

Each of these deployments have similar approaches. A big difference between CSAT and NPS, is that CSAT measures a user’s satisfaction with a product or service, and NPS measures customer loyalty. CSAT includes several statements where customers rate their agreement or disagreement, and NPS comes at it with a single question on a customers’ overall interaction with a company, according to Voxgen officials.

CES, meanwhile, according to Gartner, is a “customer experience survey metric that enables service organizations to account for the ease of customer interaction and resolution during a request.”  

Consider Variety of Questions Measuring Customer Satisfaction

Ultimately when it comes to measuring satisfaction, having a variety of questions rating from 1-10 is a great way to discover new problems, according to Masterson. “It’s important,” he said, “to have multiple forms of a customer satisfaction score because it optimizes the diversity of results.”