Customer Satisfaction Score: Complete Guide to CSAT

11 MIN READMar 3, 2020

Customer Satisfaction Score: Complete Guide to CSAT

Measuring Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) has become a standard practice in almost all businesses over the past decade - and rightfully so! CSAT is one of the most efficient means to track how happy your customers are with what you do.

Though simple in nature, CSAT can actually provide incredibly profound insight into the health of your business, if collected and analyzed correctly.

We put together a complete guide on how to make the most out of CSAT. Continue reading and find answers to questions like:

  • What is CSAT?
  • Why do I need to measure it?
  • How can I measure CSAT?
  • When should I send out customer feedback surveys?
  • What’s a good industry benchmark for customer satisfaction?
  • How can I improve my CSAT?
  • What’s the difference between CSAT, NPS, CES, and IQS?

Let’s get going!

What is Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)?

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is customer service, marketing, and business metric that measures how well a company, its products, support, and other services meet their users’ expectations.

CSAT is calculated based on customer surveys and it reflects the average customer response to the question of “How satisfied are you with the company’s services?”. A CSAT of 100% indicates that customers are extremely satisfied with what you do, while 0% represents complete dissatisfaction with your services.

CSAT is measured at the individual level, meaning that users are questioned separately and sometimes anonymously. The results, however, are also analyzed and reported at an aggregate level, so it gives a general overview of the entire customer base’s attitudes towards your business.

CSAT might be a misspelling of CATS

Why do I need to measure CSAT?

CSAT is the most efficient way to measure how satisfied your customers are with your services. Though based on a single question, CSAT provides valuable insight into your customer relationships.

Here’s why you need to measure CSAT:

  • Get feedback from your customers: if you’re strategic with your surveys, you’ll be able to analyze what drives customer satisfaction (e.g., feature releases or great customer interactions) and what brings it down (e.g., long support wait times or issues with the product). Based on this data you’ll learn 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.
  • Boost your business results: happy customers are more likely to purchase from you 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.

CSAT is an essential KPI for most companies because it helps to keep business and support goals inline with customers’ expectations. If you’re smart about CSAT, it’ll become a useful tool for collecting customer feedback in strategic places that will help you build a truly customer-centric and successful brand.

Klaus knows why you need to measure CSAT

How can I measure CSAT?

CSAT survey is based on a single question: how satisfied are you with the service/product/experience you received? Send it to your customers and let them score your business on a pre-defined rating scale. Most CSAT surveys use 3-, 5-, or 7-point scales, read more about the pros and cons of different rating scales here.

There are many options for collecting customer feedback. Depending on your goals, support volume and workload, you can collect it manually or use a tool that helps you distribute the survey and automatically create meaningful reports to make sense of the data that you receive.

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

  • Create a custom 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, due to the manual work and time that this solution requires, most teams opt to use an existing tool to do the work for them.
  • Send pre-built CSAT surveys from your helpdesk. These days, most support platforms - such as Zendesk, for example - 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 satisfaction survey within your customer interactions.
  • Use a third-party tool for advanced CSAT surveys and reports. Dedicated customer CSAT survey tools like Nicereply provide enhanced features for tracking customer satisfaction, such as customized questions, more integrations and advanced reports.\ \ Integrate questionnaires into your customer lifecycle and track their satisfaction across time. This way, you’ll be able to see how CSAT changes in various touchpoints, e.g., upon signup, around new feature releases, before subscription renewal, etc.

There are CSAT tools out there for teams of all shapes and sizes. Take your time to do the research to find the best match for your customer service strategy and goals.

Klaus explains Customer Satisfaction Score units (sort of)

When should I ask for CSAT?

Timing plays a crucial role in customer feedback surveys, as it can impact your answer rates as well as the accuracy of the results. The longer you wait with asking for CSAT after your interactions, the less likely you are to receive any (accurate) responses.

Moreover, checking in on how your customers are feeling at different points in the customer lifecycle can give you a manifold overview of your service quality.

To get the most out of CSAT, send out the survey at the following times:

  • After every purchase: checking in on your customers as soon as they’ve made a purchase is the ABC of CSAT. It’s the best time to ask for feedback on the user experience they just had.\ \ However, note that the results can be skewed towards positive feedback, as customers tend to forget about the less satisfactory aspects that might have happened at the beginning of their journey.
  • When you make changes to the product or release new features: seeing how product updates and the way you communicate those changes affect your CSAT can give you valuable insight into you how well you’re meeting your users’ expectations.\ \ CSAT is an easy way to measure the impact that your latest releases had on your customer base and collect user feedback on your product and communications.
  • Before the subscription renewal date: checking in on your customers well before you’re about to bill them for the next period can reveal important areas in which you need to improve before sending the next invoice. If you time your CSAT surveys right, you’ll be able to fix those shortcomings before the customer could potentially churn.\ \ If you ask for CSAT systematically before the subscription renewal date, you’ll be able to improve your customer retention and grow customer loyalty. Find out if your customers are unhappy before it’s too late.
  • In every support interaction: most support teams ask for CSAT every time they talk to customers to understand how well they meet their users’ expectations. The survey is usually either sent out after the entire ticket is closed or included in every separate support message, depending on the level of detail teams want to go into.\ \ It’s important to point out that not all CSAT results received for support interactions always reflect the customers’ attitudes towards the agent or customer service. This feedback is often mixed with assessments given to the product, company image, or other aspects not related to the support performance.\ \ Because of this, you may not want to rely solely on CSAT for analyzing your customer service performance. Read more about why CSAT alone is not the perfect metric for measuring customer service quality.

Depending on the specifics of your customer lifecycle, you might want to add even more touchpoints for asking customer feedback. CSAT can give you valuable insight into your customers’ attitudes towards your business. Use it to learn more about how different customer-facing activities impact customer satisfaction.

Klaus wondering when to send CSAT surveys to customers

What’s a good CSAT benchmark?

A good CSAT benchmark is one that’s achievable and preferably aligns with your company and customer service goals. First and foremost, you need to look into your team’s performance and areas of improvement to understand which targets to set for yourself.

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

  • Breweries - 84%
  • Personal care - 83%
  • Food and soft drinks - 82%
  • Restaurants - 81%
  • Household appliances - 81%
  • Banks - 80%
  • Life Insurance - 80%
  • Car industry - 79%
  • Internet travel services - 79%
  • Financial Advisors - 79%
  • Mobile phones - 79%
  • Computers - 78%
  • Consumer shipping - 78%
  • Software - 78%
  • Apparel - 77%
  • Online news - 77%
  • Search engines - 77%
  • Ambulatory care - 77%
  • Video streaming - 76%
  • Energy utilities - 75%
  • Hotels - 75%
  • Airlines - 74%
  • Health insurance - 74%
  • Social media - 72%
  • Hospitals - 72%
  • Video-on-Demand - 67%
  • Internet service providers - 62%
  • Subscription television - 62%

More and more companies admit that they compete with their competitors mostly based on the customer experiences 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.

Klaus gives adequate advice on CSAT benchmarks

How can I improve CSAT?

Improving CSAT requires internal quality strategies and continuous work. Luckily, there are certain activities that can boost customer satisfaction week by week, regardless of whether your team is at the very bottom of the chart or already scoring high.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to improve your CSAT:

  1. Analyze customer satisfaction across their entire lifecycle. Find 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.\ \ Scroll up to “When should I ask for CSAT?” and read more about why to ask for customer feedback after every purchase, right when you’ve released product updates, well before subscription renewal, and in every support interaction.
  2. Pair your CSAT results up with IQS (Internal Quality Score). Define your internal quality standards and conduct regular conversation reviews to understand how your customer service team performs against your own expectations.\ \ This will help you understand whether your support team is responsible for low CSAT scores or if there are other business areas that have an effect on it (e.g., lousy product, negative company image, etc). The latter is very likely to be the case if your IQS is high but CSAT low, indicating that you need to make improvements in those specific business areas.
  3. Provide feedback to your agents. Regardless of how much of your customer feedback is aimed at your product and company vs. specifically at customer service, your support usually takes the brunt of all the negative feedback.\ \ In order to keep your customer service team in top shape, you need to provide regular feedback to your agents on their performance. This will pinpoint your team’s areas of improvement and help them grow professionally - because if you don’t know what needs to be fixed, how can you become any better?
  4. 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.

If you know what constitutes your customer satisfaction and how your actions affect it, you’ll be able to create strategies to improve your CSAT. Doing qualitative analysis in the form of conversation reviews is a crucial part of all companies’ quality programs.

Klaus knows how to improve CSAT and other things

What’s the difference between CSAT, NPS, CES, and IQS?

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Internal Quality Score (IQS) are the most popular metrics for tracking the quality of customer support and other services. While some teams prefer one over the others, there are also companies that track all four to get a complete picture of how they’re doing.

  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) reflects the overall customer satisfaction that can be affected by support interactions, the product and its (missing) features, the company’s public image, and other aspects.\ \ CSAT asks the customers to rate the service that they received on a scale from “bad” or “very bad” to “good” or “very good”. The results show the average score you received across the survey.
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a more holistic metric that’s usually used to analyze customers’ overall happiness with the product and company. Though the results can be affected by the support quality, this survey is rarely tied directly to customer service performance.\ \ NPS asks users to rate “How likely are you to recommend our company to your friends or colleagues?” on a scale from 0-10. NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of responses that are distractors (those who rated 0-6) from the percentage of responses that are promoters (those who gave it 9 or 10). The results are presented as a number from -100 to +100.
  • CES (Customer Effort Score) focuses on the customer experience (CX) and is based on the assumption that the easier it is for customers to find everything they need, the more likely they are to be happy and stick around.\ \ Much like CSAT and NPS, CES is also collected through customer surveys. It asks the users to rate the degree to which they agree that “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue”. CES is a great tool for analyzing CX in different parts of your customer journey.
  • IQS (Internal Quality Score) is the metric of conversation reviews that reflects how well support teams meet internal quality standards. When combined with CSAT, NPS, and CES, it gives a neat overview of how your company standards align with your customers’ expectations.\ \ IQS is calculated based on every company’s custom scorecard that includes rating categories for the most important aspects that the team must nail in every interaction. According to a 2019 study conducted by Klaus, most support teams assess the correctness of the solution, agents’ product knowledge, and the empathy and tone expressed in the support interactions.

CSAT, NPS, CES, and IQS are some of the most critical health checks for most businesses and support teams these days. Though some of their data might overlap, the combination of these four quality KPIs could bring the most value to your company.

Klaus helps you understand what CSAT, NPS, CES, and IQS stand for

Tracking 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 and boost your revenue.

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 customer feedback over time, and combining it with internal quality evaluations, gives you a profound overview of how your company is doing.

What other questions do you have about CSAT? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be happy to share our insight.

Written by

Merit Valdsalu
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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