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Customer Satisfaction Score: Tips for Improving Your Business

Do you know how well you meet customer expectations and where you could improve? If not, it’s time to measure your customer satisfaction score.

Customer satisfaction score surveys give you the positive and negative feedback needed to kick your success into high gear.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to chat with every customer to learn what they like and dislike about your business. You’d hear stories of positive experiences and suggestions for improvement, allowing you to fine-tune the customer experience in real time.

However, high customer volumes and the fast pace of the business world often keep those personal interactions out of reach. So, what’s the next best thing? Customer satisfaction score surveys that capture vital insights and ensure that every voice is heard.

To get actionable data from these surveys, you need to approach them with a clear strategy, starting with selecting the best scoring method. Here’s all you need to know about using customer satisfaction scores to improve your business.

Three types of customer satisfaction scores

There are 3 main types of customer satisfaction scoring systems, also known as key performance indicators:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)

The scoring method you choose determines what insights you’ll get about key interaction points, customer engagement, and overall satisfaction with your brand.

CSAT score

The CSAT score measures how people feel about the customer experience after completing specific touchpoints in the sales process, like buying something or calling the support line. It’s an excellent relationship survey tool for gauging customer sentiments and perceptions about your various business processes.

You decide what areas to focus on when creating the survey. The survey questions usually ask directly, “How satisfied are you with…” the product, service quality, or experience. Your customers select between 3 and 10 satisfaction levels on each question’s rating scale to provide quantifiable data.

NPS score

The NPS score measures how people perceive your brand, providing a big-picture overview of their brand loyalty and customer satisfaction levels. Looking at the customer experience through this lens reveals the potential for long-term company growth.

The survey typically only has one question: “How likely are you to recommend our brand?” Customers respond by selecting from 10 rating scale levels that reflect the likelihood of providing their recommendation. You can then use those scores to funnel customers into 3 categories: promoters, passives, and detractors.

CES score

The CES score measures how much effort customers must put into interacting with your company. It’s a great way to see where people experience friction at crucial touchpoints, like completing product demos, signing up for a subscription, or contacting your support team.

The customer effort score survey has only one question, like “How easy was it to accomplish your goal today with our service?” Customers select between multiple satisfaction levels, ranging from very easy to very difficult. Averaging the scores reveals bottlenecks that negatively impact the customer experience.

Why measuring customer satisfaction is important for your business

Customer satisfaction measurements are your compass in navigating the sea of customer expectations and preferences. The results take the guesswork out of understanding what works and what doesn’t, so you can make well-informed decisions about how to run your business. Here are some ways you may benefit from measuring this metric.

Optimize the customer journey and experience

The customer journey and experience are everything these days. Customers expect companies to go beyond selling fantastic products and services; they want a seamless and delightful buying journey. Companies that hit the mark earn loyal brand advocates who openly share their positive experiences.

The opposite is also true, with customer complaints going viral when businesses fail to resolve problems adequately. Satisfaction surveys can help you avoid that and stay on good terms with your customers by identifying issues before they escalate.

Make improvements with customer feedback

As a business owner, you’re on a never-ending quest to stay ahead of the competition, provide value to your customers, and inspire brand loyalty. Positioning your business as a leader in the industry requires a deep understanding of what your customers want and how to best deliver it to them.

If you’re just guessing, you might fall behind or make costly mistakes. Satisfaction surveys give you the customer feedback needed to make smart, data-driven decisions that can steer your business in the right direction.

Boost customer loyalty, retention, and overall satisfaction

Customer churn occurs when people decide they’re done using your company’s products or services. Each customer you lose directly hits your bottom line and this usually happens without warning. For every customer who directly tells you their problem, 26 others simply stop shopping your brand without saying another word.

Regularly rolling out customer surveys keeps you in the loop so you can address issues causing your customers to flee. As long as you’re using the data correctly, your efforts can boost customer loyalty and retention by improving their overall satisfaction with your company.

Drive your business growth by getting more satisfied customers

In addition to becoming repeat buyers, satisfied customers drive business growth. Enjoying a positive customer experience inspires many people to share their satisfaction with their social circles.

Positive online reviews, heartfelt recommendations, and genuine conversations all help build your brand’s reputation and credibility. This helps introduce your business to new audiences, sparking interest in your products and services. If your new customers also enjoy an exceptional experience, you’ll gain even more enthusiastic brand ambassadors promoting your business growth.

Use customer sentiment data for your marketing strategies

Word-of-mouth advertising is powerful, but you cannot rely on it alone to attract new customers. You also need well-crafted marketing strategies that leverage customer sentiment data from your satisfaction surveys.

The audience insights gained from each survey reveal precisely what your target audience expects from your brand. This allows you to create more impactful marketing campaigns personalized to your customers’ needs and preferences. Customer relationships improve as the marketing materials resonate, increasing business growth.

When to calculate customer satisfaction scores

Correctly timing the delivery of customer satisfaction surveys is essential to collecting valuable customer data. The ideal timing for each survey depends on your area of focus and research goals.

If you’re looking to analyze your customers’ relationship with your brand, it’s best kept as a semi-annual check-in. Every 6 months or so, send out a survey with broad diagnostic questions exploring all the key aspects of your offerings, from product effectiveness to support quality.

Customer touchpoint surveys should happen much more often than that. These surveys work best when delivered immediately after the interaction you want to assess. They’re much shorter, too, only focusing on how well your company provided the optimal customer experience at that moment.

Ideal times to send touchpoint surveys include:

  • When a customer discovers your company and fills out your website’s contact form
  • When a customer either completes the onboarding process or opts not to proceed
  • After a customer moves through the entire purchase process and receives the product
  • About 3-6 months before the customer’s long-term subscription ends
  • Before meeting with a customer about upgrading their product or services
  • After finishing the support process and resolving the customer’s complaint

Think carefully about when to send out the surveys for each touchpoint in the customer life cycle. Delivering the survey before the product gets delivered or support has a chance to resolve a complaint can skew customer feedback toward the negative. Instead, wait until your customers fully complete the interaction before asking for their insights in your CSAT survey.

How to calculate scores with customer satisfaction surveys

Customer satisfaction surveys are a powerful tool in your business toolkit. Like any tool, they’re most effective when used correctly. Just as you’d learn to use a new welding machine, understanding the ins and outs of calculating your CSAT scores with these surveys can protect you from adverse outcomes.

Ready to get started? Just follow these 7 steps to begin using CSAT surveys like a seasoned pro.

Step 1: Choose the right key performance indicator

The 3 most popular customer satisfaction scoring systems—CSAT, NPS, and CES—all provide different insights you can use to fine-tune the customer experience.

  • CSAT scores allow you to review the customer experience through every interaction people have with your brand.
  • NPS scores provide a broad overview of how your past and current customers feel about your business and its offerings.
  • CES scores reveal barriers that may prevent people from completing purchases, contacting support, or interacting with your company.

Select the best one for the job by deciding what you want to measure.

Do you want to examine the quality of individual interactions, like completing onboarding? CSAT will allow you to assess the customer experience at key moments. Prefer to pinpoint potential obstacles in the customer journey? Let CES show you the barriers standing in the way. Or use NPS to gauge general customer sentiment about your brand.

Step 2: Decide what customer insights you want

Use your general idea of what you want to measure and narrow it down further. This will help you write your survey questions in the next step. You can focus on gleaning targeted insights or go for a broad overview.

For targeted insights, think at the granular level. For example, to assess onboarding, consider focusing on customers’ satisfaction with your website, product demo, or sign-up process. When it comes to customer service, gauge customer happiness about response times or how well your agents handle their complaints.

If you’re unsure where your company needs work, it’s okay to step back and start from the top. Ask how customers feel about onboarding or if your customer service system is easy to use. You can always narrow it down later once you understand which areas leave customers dissatisfied.

Step 3: Create a customer satisfaction score survey

With your target customer life cycle moments in mind, you’re ready to create your first customer satisfaction survey. Just remember to keep each survey brief and straight to the point to get the highest response rates.

Start by writing several CSAT survey questions that might generate valuable customer insights. Examples of questions you may want to ask include:

  • How satisfied are you with your recent shopping experience?
  • Did our website meet your expectations in terms of user-friendliness?
  • How likely are you to recommend our subscription service to others?
  • How would you rate the responsiveness of our technical support team?
  • Were you able to easily create your account for our online portal?

Also, pick a rating scale you’d like to use for all your CSAT surveys, such as 1-3, 1-5, or 1-10. Keep this consistent to accurately gauge how well you’ve improved after enacting changes in response to previous survey results.

Determine the platform you’d like to use to create and send your surveys. Mailchimp allows you to create hosted surveys shareable through email, social posts, and more. There’s also an option to use the poll or survey merge tag to let your recipients respond to the question right from their inbox.

Other survey tools include Typeform, Google Forms, and SurveyMonkey. These options let you send the questions through their system or integrate the account with Mailchimp. If you choose the latter option, it’s simple to view the results and segment your recipients based on their survey responses.

Either way, build your CSAT survey with 10 questions or less. Most questions should have a rating scale but adding at least one open-ended question for more in-depth insights is a good idea. Ideally, CES and NPS surveys should be just one question answerable only with a rating scale.

Step 4: Select your customer satisfaction survey channels

Your customer satisfaction surveys are only helpful if they are filled out and returned for review. And that requires them to reach the recipient at a time and place where they’re receptive to providing feedback.

To achieve this, select your customer satisfaction survey channels with care. Send the survey through the same channels your customers use to reach you whenever possible.

If they engage with your brand through email, deliver your surveys by email. People who interact with your company through your website may respond better to a survey that pops up during their visit.

For the best response rates, set it up so your surveys get delivered when customers complete certain actions, like clicking on a relevant navigation link. Sending CSAT surveys at the moment of engagement increases the chance that your customers will be open to sharing feedback and give thoughtful responses.

Step 5: Calculate your customer satisfaction score

Once your survey results are in, you have 2 main ways to calculate your customer satisfaction score: composite and detailed. If you want to run a customer-centric business, they’re both worth calculating, but you’ll learn more from the detailed view.

Composite customer satisfaction score

The composite customer satisfaction score is the average score of all the survey responses. To calculate it, add all survey scores, divide this by the sum of the highest achievable score, and then multiply by 100.

For example, if your scores add up to 180, but the sum of the highest attainable score is 250, the CSAT score calculation would be:

(180 / 250) * 100 = 72

Your composite customer satisfaction score would be 72, reflecting the satisfaction level with the survey’s area of focus.

Detailed customer satisfaction score

The detailed customer satisfaction score is the percentage of people who report that they’re satisfied with your customer experience. To find that percentage, divide the customers who select satisfied or better by the total number of survey responses, then multiply by 100.

For example, if you got 32 ratings of satisfied or better out of 50 total responses, you’d calculate your score with this formula:

(32 / 50) * 100 = 64

The calculations reveal that 64% of your customers were happy with their experience, but 36% felt it could have been better.

The detailed view separates unhappy customers from satisfied ones, offering a benchmark for improvement in each area of focus. This approach also only considers the top 2 highest-rated responses, which are the most reliable predictors for customer retention.

Step 6: Consider comparing your score to customer satisfaction benchmarks

Every company is unique, so what’s considered to be a good score varies. You can gauge how well you’re meeting customers’ expectations by comparing your CSAT scores to the American Customer Satisfaction Index benchmarks. This resource lists scores by industry and company, so you can see exactly where you stand.

When looking at the different business sectors, you’ll see scores like:

  • Fast food restaurants: 78%
  • Supermarkets: 76%
  • Automobiles: 77%
  • Household appliances: 79%
  • Banks: 78%
  • Search engines: 80%
  • Video streaming service: 77%

Hospitals, internet service providers, and other industries with less positive public perceptions have benchmark CSAT scores of 70% or lower.

Typically, most brands strive for scores of 75% or above, but it’s pretty tough to get past the 85% mark. If you’re at or above the industry benchmark, you’re probably succeeding in delivering an exceptional customer experience. It doesn’t hurt to keep making improvements though, especially if your competitors are consistently raising the bar.

Step 7: Analyze the data to go deeper in measuring customer satisfaction

Score numbers offer a glimpse into how your customers feel about your brand, but they don’t tell the whole story. You will need to analyze CSAT survey data to get the inside scoop about each customer’s satisfaction levels.

If you asked any open-ended questions, you’ll quickly get to the reasoning behind many of the ratings. Keep an eye out for recurring words and feelings while reading through the responses. This qualitative data helps you pinpoint the most common things that positively or negatively affect customer satisfaction.

CSAT surveys without open-ended questions require you to break down the data to understand the feedback better. There are many ways to do this, such as:

Combine the analysis results to create a report about what you learned from the survey. Focus on what people love about your company and the areas you could improve. Transform those insights into action by deciding what improvements to make and how to accomplish your goals.

Enact the changes once you’re ready to put your plan into action. Give the improvements time to work their magic, then send out the same survey to gauge customer reactions. Repeat this process until you and your customers are happy with the results.

Best ways to improve customer satisfaction metrics

The best way to improve customer satisfaction metrics is to make targeted improvements based on survey scores and feedback. But there’s another path to improvement: making sure your customers feel heard and valued through all the key touchpoints.

To create that framework, set up all the support channels possible for your customers:

  • Email
  • Chatbots
  • 24/7 phone support
  • Self-service knowledge base
  • Monitored forums

Also, train your employees to properly collect and respond to feedback during every customer support interaction. Consider sharing real-time survey results with your support agents to give them all the data needed to provide a superb customer service experience.

Moreover, respond to all negative and positive feedback to show that you’re listening and open to making changes. Address negative survey responses with follow-up questions and offers that can help smooth over the situation until you’re ready to fix the problem permanently. Send customers a thank-you card when they share how happy they are with your brand.

Happy customers lead to increased business success

Happy customers keep coming back, share their love for your brand with the world, and encourage others to try what you offer. They’re your enthusiastic brand ambassadors. And they do it because they’re delighted with the customer experience your company provides. So, it’s smart to continually measure customer satisfaction scores and work to keep customers happy. Ultimately, this proactive approach pays off in a big way by driving growth and increasing your business success

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