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Customer Satisfaction: What Is CSAT & Is Yours Low?

Metrics16 MIN READSep 20, 2023

Customer Satisfaction Score: Complete Guide to CSAT

Measuring customer satisfaction has become a standard practice in almost all businesses over the past decade – and rightfully so. Though simple in nature, CSAT can actually provide a profound insight into the health of your business. 

If collected and analyzed correctly, that is. 

Stick around to find out what is CSAT, what its limitations are, and how you can measure customer satisfaction the right way.

Klaus explaining that CSAT might as well be a misspelling of CATS.

What is CSAT?

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a metric used in customer service across industries (and often other departments), that measures how well a company, its products, support, and other business services meet its users’ expectations.

To put it simply, your Customer Satisfaction Score shows how satisfied your customers are with what you do.

CSAT is measured at the individual level, meaning that users are questioned separately (How satisfied are you with the product/service/support received?), and sometimes anonymously.

The results, however, are averaged out to give a composite Customer Satisfaction Score. CSAT is usually expressed as a percentage: 100% being total customer satisfaction, and 0% total customer dissatisfaction. We haven’t seen any business CSAT score that low, though!

If this sounds familiar… It’s because it is. You might have seen different variations of the “CSAT survey” when using SaaS products, or shopping online, or even on a visit to McDonald’s. 

The rating scale can be as simple as a choice between thumbs up and thumbs down, though is usually more granular. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Outdoor poster saying: I can't get no CSATisfaction.

Why measure Customer Satisfaction Score?

  • Get feedback from your customers. If you’re strategic with your surveys, you’ll be able to analyze what drives customer satisfaction (is it feature releases, new delivery options, or great customer interactions?). Or, what brings it down — long support wait times or issues with the product? Once you understand your CSAT score, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on how to provide better services to your users.
  • Keep an eye on your service quality. Regular and randomized CSAT surveys help you get an overview of how customer satisfaction changes over time. If you notice any (negative) shifts in your CSAT, you’ll be able to get to the bottom of things right away.
  • Drive more revenue. Satisfied customers are more likely to purchase from you again, and remain loyal to your brand. So, if you know what increases your CSAT, you’ll know which activities to replicate to improve your business results and grow your revenue.
Klaus knows why you need to measure CSAT

How to measure Customer Satisfaction Score?

As already mentioned, CSAT surveys are based on a single question: How satisfied are your customers with the service/product/experience they received? 

To know the answer, you first have to show it to your customers and let them score your business on a predefined rating scale. 

Most Customer Satisfaction surveys use 3-, 5-, or 7-point scales, but it doesn’t mean that yours can’t be different. Read more about the pros and cons of different rating scales here.

No matter the scale, you should define what your business regards as a positive rating. For a 7-point scale, for example, you could treat 6 and 7 as good customer satisfaction levels.

To calculate the Customer Satisfaction Score for a given time period, sum up all positive responses, divide them by the number of all the responses received, and multiply by 100. 

As an example: if you received 50 responses and 25 of them were positive, your CSAT score would be 50% (25 positive responses / 50 total responses * 100 = 50%).

The question remains, however:

Klaus needs answers.

How to collect Customer Satisfaction surveys?

There are many options for collecting customer reviews. You can either collect it manually or automate the process, by using a tool that helps you with distribution and response. Unless you are a very small business, you likely want to opt for the latter.

Here are the most common options for collecting customer satisfaction surveys:

  • Create a custom Customer Satisfaction survey that you send to your customers via email. It can be a simple online form with a single question and a rating scale of your choice. However, this takes time to design and implement, and requires ongoing manual upkeep to track responses.
  • Send pre-built CSAT surveys from your helpdesk. These days, most support platforms include features for sending out customer surveys right from your support software. It’s the easiest way to combine CSAT questionnaires with your support performance and integrate the customer satisfaction survey within your customer interactions. At the same time, you might find the default helpdesk CSAT functionality poor (lack of customization, branding, no insights on how to improve the CSAT survey response rate).
  • Use a third-party tool for advanced CSAT surveys and reports. Dedicated CSAT tools provide AI-powered features for collecting CSAT comments, scores, and analyzing customer satisfaction data.

When to send CSAT surveys?

Regardless of the method you’re going to use, timing plays a crucial role in feedback surveys, as it can impact your CSAT response rates as well as the accuracy of the results. 

The longer you wait to send a Customer Satisfaction survey after your interactions, the less likely you are to receive any (accurate) responses.

So, the rule of thumb tells you to always ask for CSAT as soon as possible. Here are the most strategic times for sending your customer surveys:

1. After every purchase

If you only plan to ask for CSAT once, this is the time to do it. CSAT comments given after a customer has completed the actions you wanted them to achieve will give you insight into the overall customer satisfaction and quality of your customer experience.

However, note that customers tend to leave more positive feedback when they’ve just completed a purchase. To learn how they feel during the customer journey, consider integrating CSAT into other parts of the journey, too.

2. With feature releases and product updates

You can use CSAT as a means to check how your users react to the changes you’ve made to the product. Sending out a CSAT survey is the quickest way to collect feedback on new features and updates. 

However, major UI changes can cause a wave of negative feedback, as people tend to prefer what is familiar to them. Consider sending a follow-up CSAT survey later to see if they’ve become accustomed to the new visuals.

Klaus following up on feedback.

3. Before the subscription renewal date

Checking CSAT before recurring billing your customers for the next period can reveal how likely they are to stick around. In other words, you’ll find out which customers are in danger of churning and will be able to fix this situation. 

Sync this part of your customer satisfaction strategy with your sales and customer success teams to evaluate customer churn and customer retention rates. Through this, you’re giving them plenty of time to win back those customers.

4. After every support interaction

Your support team talks to your customers on a daily basis. The quality of those conversations can have a huge impact on the entire customer experience, so send the CSAT survey to your customers after every interaction you’ve had. Most helpdesk solutions allow you to use built-in CSAT surveys right inside your customer conversations, while advanced CSAT tools can also cover other use cases. 

Checking in on how your customers are feeling at different points in the customer lifecycle can give you an overview of your service quality. Analyze your customer journey, review your support goals, and find the most important customer touchpoints where you could benefit the most from customer reviews.

Klaus checking customer requests that all say: More treats, please.

What is CSAT response rate?

CSAT response rate is the percentage of customers who respond to your Customer Satisfaction survey.

CSAT comments, on the other hand, refer to the written feedback provided by customers in response to the survey.

When collecting Customer Satisfaction surveys, the most insight-rich feedback comes from open-ended CSAT comments. That is where people can go beyond the discrete categorical answers of the survey and openly share their thoughts. 

The issue is:

▶️ The average CSAT response rate is 19% for chat, 5% for email, and 5% for phone.

▶️ Only 19% of all ratings have a CSAT comment beside the score. If you’re using chat, you only receive written feedback from 3% of your customers. On email or phone, it’s less than 1%.

Source: Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report

How to get a higher CSAT response rate for your feedback surveys?

Apart from asking for feedback at the right moment (and doing so regularly), you can also get higher response rates and more CSAT comments if you:

Make the Customer Satisfaction survey easy to use — invest in good copy and be brief. Ask one question that matters the most, as additional questions reduce the response rate. Then, try to help your customers out: personalize the CSAT survey with context to help remind them what or who you are asking about.
Mart Objartel
Mart Objartel
Product Manager

The more detailed a response is the better – when customers leave CSAT comments, it gives you far more context for their opinions. However, our memories are never as good as we think they are. 

KlausGPT for CSAT.

What is a good CSAT rate?

A good CSAT is one that’s achievable and preferably aligns with your company and customer service goals. According to the latest Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report by Klaus, the CSAT benchmark for 2023 is 85%.

If you’d like to see how you compare against your industry standards, check out these CSAT benchmarks measured by ACSI:

  • Online retailers — 80%
  • Full-service restaurants — 80%
  • Household appliances — 79%
  • Personal computers — 79%
  • Software — 78%
  • Banks — 78%
  • Life insurance — 78%
  • Shipping companies — 77%
  • Automobiles — 77%
  • Airlines — 76%
  • Online travel agencies — 76%
  • Fast food restaurants — 76%
  • Search engines and information — 75%
  • Hotels — 75%
  • Video streaming services — 74%
  • Health insurance — 73%
  • Social media — 71%

More and more companies admit that they compete mostly based on the customer experience that they offer, so keeping an eye on your CSAT and the industry averages is a great way to analyze how your products and services compare. First and foremost, you need to look into your team’s performance and areas of improvement to understand which targets to set for yourself.

⭐️ For more insights on customer satisfaction metrics and benchmarks, download the Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report for free.
Klaus gives adequate advice on CSAT benchmarks.

How to improve Customer Satisfaction Score?

If you’ve just compared your CSAT score to the benchmarks above and got a feeling that your customer satisfaction leaves a lot to be desired, we’ve got your back. 

Here’s your 7-step guide to improving customer satisfaction in your company:

1. Analyze customer satisfaction across the entire lifecycle

Try to spot the touchpoints where your CSAT score decreases. Customer satisfaction is likely to be on the positive side at the very beginning of the customer journey, but if it decreases along the way, you should investigate what’s dragging your CSAT down. 

2. Pair CSAT results with your IQS 

Successful customer service teams don’t just track CSAT, they also analyze this feedback and act upon it. Conversation reviews are a systematic means of doing so, as peers, dedicated QA specialists, or managers analyze support interactions based on internal quality standards to measure the Internal Quality Score (IQS).

Reviewing conversations will help you understand whether your support team is responsible for low Customer Satisfaction scores or if there are other business areas that have an effect on it (e.g. low-quality products, negative company image, etc.). The latter is very likely if your IQS is high but CSAT low, indicating that you need to make improvements in those specific business areas. 

10% support teams track IQS Internal Quality Score

3. Follow up on customer feedback

Customers leave CSAT comments and ratings on only a fraction of your customer interactions and touchpoints. So, whenever you receive a review from your users, make sure to make the most out of it.

Following up on CSAT surveys is the easiest way to win back disappointed customers and improve customer loyalty.

4. Reach out to unhappy customers who gave you a negative CSAT rating

As the service recovery paradox outlines, customers tend to be more loyal to a business after they’ve experienced a service failure than without having any bad customer experience at all.

Ask your dissatisfied customers about what went wrong and try to fix it if possible. You can either set up an automated follow-up survey flow targeted at those who gave a bad CSAT rating, or reach out to each one of them personally. This, of course, depends on your capacity and support volume.

5. Get in touch with satisfied customers who gave you a positive CSAT score

Take time to dwell on the positive! Many teams focus only on negative feedback. They tend to forget to thank the users who rewarded them with positive customer satisfaction scores and CSAT comments.

Positive feedback is an invaluable asset that you can showcase on your website and in your communications. So is paw-sitive feedback, but that’s a different matter. Team up with your marketing department to turn CSAT comments into great customer service reviews. Also, don’t forget to give kudos to the agents who earned your customers’ praise!

6. Hold regular feedback sessions with your support reps 

Not all the customer feedback will be directly related to customer service quality. But some of it will be, and it’s important to create an open feedback culture within your support team.

In order to keep your team in shape, you need to provide regular (both negative and positive) feedback to your support reps on their performance. If they don’t know what should be fixed, how can they become any better?

7. Track your team’s progress over time

Keeping customer satisfaction high is a company-wide strategy that takes a lot of dedicated time and effort. Keep an eye on your CSAT and IQS over time to notice any changes in your customer satisfaction. This will help you understand what impacts your users’ happiness and notify you about the business areas that need your attention right now.

Outdoor poster saying: I got 99 problems but CSAT ain't one.

CSAT limitations

Now, is CSAT reliable? Definitely. Is it the only customer service metric you should track? Definitely not.

For starters, customers don’t understand the complexity of their requests, so they might be disappointed about something that’s out of your team’s control. 

For example, a negative CSAT rating for turning down a feature request that wasn’t on your product roadmap says nothing about your customer service quality.

Customers don’t know your quality standards, so they can’t tell you whether your performance was up to par. At times, your expectations could even be higher than those of your customers. 

So, you need to have a QA process for reviewing support interactions and truly understand customer expectations and how well your team is doing. Regular conversation reviews are the easiest way to analyze how customer feedback aligns with your internal standards. Make them a part of your CSAT strategy.

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Don’t lose track of CSAT

Tracking Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) should be a standard practice in most industries, as no business can afford to neglect customer feedback. Knowing what drives customer satisfaction can help you grow your business results, reduce customer churn and boost your revenue.

At the same time, CSAT reflects attitudes towards different parts of your business — product, customer service, marketing, and others. To understand who to forward the feedback to in your company, you need to dive into the details of it and review the interactions you’ve had with the customer.

If you’re smart about CSAT, you’ll be able to read more out of the data than just your users’ current level of happiness. Tracking CSAT comments and scores over time, and combining it with internal quality evaluations, gives you a profound overview of how your company is doing.

Originally published in March 2020; last updated in September 2023.

Written by

Merit Valdsalu
Merit is the content writer at Klaus - though most of her texts have probably been ghostwritten by her rescue cat Oskar.

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