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Are you truly in tune with how your customers feel about your products and services? Is your customer service top-notch or in need of improvement? Are there areas in your customer lifecycle that could benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities? Could your application or checkout process be enhanced?

The only way to find out is to ask. Discovering the answers to these questions, and many more, is key to understanding customer satisfaction and driving loyalty. Fortunately, there's a tried-and-tested approach to gaining these insights: measuring the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score.

Keep reading for an overview of CSAT and proven tips on maximising your customer satisfaction data.

The Customer Satisfaction Score measures how satisfied your customers are. Although that may seem like a clear concept, pinpointing the exact definition of customer satisfaction is challenging.

Customer satisfaction looks different for every company and industry. Generally, it’s about how well your products, customer service and brand live up to customer expectations, which also vary widely depending on demographics such as age, gender and location.

CSAT asks customers how satisfied they are with a particular experience or interaction with your business. Measuring satisfaction highlights pain points, evaluates customer relationships and uncovers insights leading to new solutions or features.

CSAT surveys ask customers to rate their satisfaction with a product, service or the overall customer experience. 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 have responded, here is how you measure your CSAT score:

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

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, i.e. whatever the survey is measuring.

Related: Read everything you need to know about calculating and using CSAT to increase engagement and retention.

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

You should also review CSAT industry benchmarks 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.

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.

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).

NPS measures longer-term customer loyalty rather than satisfaction. Customers might be satisfied with an FAQ article on your help centre but not likely to recommend you to their peers. Measuring NPS and CSAT will give you a clearer view of the strength of your relationship with your customers.

CES gauges how easy you make it for customers to do business with your company. A Customer Effort Score survey could uncover issues in your customer service, checkout experience or website experience.

Because CSAT identifies drivers of loyalty, and CES generally uncovers the causes of disloyalty, both should be implemented together for best results.

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. Here are some common CSAT use cases across teams:

  • Customer service teams can review changes point to changes in their CSAT score after introducing new support practices.
  • Customer success teams can measure customer satisfaction with the onboarding and renewal processes.
  • Sales teams can use post-purchase satisfaction feedback to refine their sales process and increase revenue.
  • Marketing teams can run competitive loss surveys that inform future campaigns.
  • The product team can generate feedback on new and existing features.
  • Business owners can look at each department’s CSAT score to get a sense of which teams might need better resources and training.

Measuring customer satisfaction is easier when you know which surveys to send and when to send them. The best time to send a CSAT survey is immediately after a customer interaction. Timely surveys ensure that 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.

However, the applications of CSAT range widely. You can ask customers about satisfaction with specific products, services, customer support, website, app, marketing or your entire business. However, here are the most common ways in which CSAT is deployed.

Sending CSAT surveys after key lifecycle moments allows teams to gain insights into the customer journey and identify critical pain points. Take customer onboarding, for instance. It’s a crucial step in the customer lifecycle (especially when you consider that 70% of people will abandon the digital onboarding process if it takes more than 20 minutes).

Employing a CSAT survey could help you identify strengths and weaknesses when bringing new customers onboard, during upsells and cross sells, or at any other important milestone.

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 renewal, it’s probably too late to fix it. Sending surveys a few months before renewals can help uncover problems, fix pain points and prevent potential churn.

After a customer speaks to a customer service rep or uses your online resources to solve a problem, you'll want to ensure that the experience helped them. You can automate CSAT surveys after a support interaction to ensure that customer feedback is timely and accurate. This can also be a good way to gauge Service team performance.

Asking customers for their feedback after talking to your sales team can yield valuable insights into 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 it was still a positive interaction.

CSAT surveys are an excellent tool for measuring customer satisfaction at specific touchpoints (as we discussed above).

They can help your business uncover and remedy dissatisfaction that could lead to increased customer churn and decreased revenue. Conversely, CSAT enables you to identify what your customers love so you can replicate it across the customer lifecycle.

CSAT can be used to continuously improve the customer experience, allowing you to make the right changes to align with customers’ wants and needs and test the effectiveness of new initiatives.

Although CSAT can tell you a lot about a business, it doesn’t paint the full picture. For instance, you can’t say how loyal or disloyal a customer is solely based on their CSAT survey response. You’d need to look to their Net Promoter® Score or follow up with the customer for more details to gauge customer loyalty.

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.

Improving your CSAT is not a one-and-done deal. Customer needs and expectations change, the competitive landscape shifts and your business evolves. You need to measure and adjust consistently to keep CSAT high. Finding out what’s in the hearts and minds of your customers is the key to driving long-term loyalty.

Employing CSAT surveys will help you uncover the key drivers of customer satisfaction and make adjustments as needed. Learn how you can get started with SurveyMonkey.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.

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