What is CSAT? Customer Satisfaction Score Explained

How well are you meeting the needs and expectations of your customers? This is the question that CSAT scoring can help answer.

What is CSAT?

CSAT is a methodology for quantifying customer satisfaction. 

If you want to know how healthy your business really is, find out how satisfied your customers really are. As a metric, customer satisfaction scoring reflects how well your brand meets expectations.

  • Do your customers enjoy doing business with you?
  • Is your service or support team responsive?
  • Are there areas of your brand that need to be improved upon?
  • Across operations, has there been any significant change in your level of service?

These are the types of questions the CSAT explores. 

At the speed the world moves, there isn’t much time for getting things right. Regardless, your visitors and customers will quickly move on from your brand if things go wrong. 

Market research shows that just a few bad customer experiences is enough for even your loyal clients to walk away.

How few bad experiences? Believe it or not, just one or two. 

Some sobering stats to keep in mind, from PwC’s research into CX across 12 nations:

Can you imagine losing one-fifth to one-third of your customers in a single day? Lost. For good. That’s exactly what could happen after just one bad customer experience with your product or brand. Even if people love your company or product, in the U.S. 59% will walk away after several bad experiences…32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience. In Latin America, 49% say they’d walk away from a brand after one bad experience.

PwC, Experience is Everything: The Future of CX

Obviously this doesn’t leave much room for error. That’s why it’s critical to get customer satisfaction right, consistently. 

What Is a CSAT Survey?

Along with a brand’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), CSAT has become the next-most researched metric in use globally today. The Customer Satisfaction Survey is a brief tool that can be used after every client or visitor touchpoint during the customer journey. 

CSAT survey questions can be tailored around anything: to elicit client opinions on testing samples, rewards programs, marketing campaigns, product purchases, recent visits and so on. 

CSAT questions are targeted to quickly capture what’s most important about your customer’s most recent interaction with you. As with most surveys, brevity is key. The more questions included, the more likely clients are to stop responding. 

How to do a Customer Satisfaction Survey

What makes for a positive customer experience? Is it the details? The quality of personnel? It’s that and much more. Most fundamental to the CSAT: this metric can assure that you’re getting the basics right. 

PwC underscores this need, summarising: “Companies need to get the must-do’s right,” and quickly, because “bad experience is driving customer’s away—fast.” 

Want to win the experience race? Change your customer experience goals to reflect what actually matters to customers. When customers feel appreciated, companies gain measurable business benefits… Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience… Experience is the strategy.

PwC, Experience is Everything: The Future of CX

This makes sense. Getting the basics of CX right is what leads to loyalty and satisfaction.

CSAT Surveys: Sample Questions 

CSAT surveys ask customers to rate how ‘Satisfied’ they were with their most recent purchase, product or visit. These interactions are rated across a spectrum: from ‘Very Satisfied’ to ‘Very Unsatisfied’; or simply from ‘Good to Bad.’

Though CSAT survey questions vary, the most common is: 

How satisfied were you with (insert interaction)?

The standard format CSAT question

The scales can vary widely. Far more important is gauging where your client’s reaction falls. 

  • Scales of 1 to 10: These ranges often vary from ‘Very Unsatisfied’ to ‘Very Satisfied.’ 
  • Scales of 1 to 5: Most common, typical in the ‘5-star’ reviews reflecting perceived quality
  • Scales of 1 to 3: Offers clients and visitors easy choices of ‘Bad, Neutral or Good.’
  • Scales of 1 to 2: Very common rating system offering a simple binary choice: ‘Good or Bad.’

Paired with this close-ended ratings question, the CSAT often then provides an open-ended feedback question, so your client can explain their reason for that score. It’s also possible to include multiple pairs of open and close-ended questions, as needed. 

Choosing the scale parameters is somewhat subjective; more important is finding out whether your visitors are currently satisfied or not.

How to Calculate Your CSAT Score 

Individual client CSAT scores are subtotalled then aggregated to provide a grand total view of your customers’ current satisfaction level. 

A brand’s CSAT score will range from 0% to 100%, with 0% reflecting that no client liked you, and 100% reflecting that every single customer or visitor appreciated your recent interaction. 

To arrive at your total CSAT score

1. Take the total number of respondents who said they were ‘Satisfied.’ 

2. Divide that by the total number of responses that were received in your survey set.

3. Then multiply that number by 100.

For example: Your parent company receives 130 CSAT Survey responses back from visitors and clients. Of those, 63 of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with your recent interaction. Dividing 63 by 130 gives you 0.48.  Multiplied by 100, this would give you a final score of 48%.

For CSATs, any score above 50% is largely considered good—it’s a passing grade. 

These scores—reflecting a public grading system—let both business leaders and marketing strategists know what works and what does not.

CSAT best practices

Want to know best practices for improving customer satisfaction? Do these three things:

  1. Measure experience; this logical first step provides actionable data that gets results.
  2. Improve experience; close any gaps in service so you can better guarantee quality.
  3. Repeat.

When to Send a CSAT Survey 

The CSAT metric can be administered after every client interaction with your agency. Among industry standards, many advocate for applying the CSAT: 

  • On touchscreens at the POS to measure client’s overall transaction satisfaction
  • 20 minutes after resolution of an online support issue
  • After any bad experience was resolved or responded to
  • 15 to 30 days after a purchase, giving the customer time to use your product
  • 3 to 15 days after a visit to museums or hotels
  • 1 hour after receiving a selected service (such as a spa treatment or meal, to gauge quality).

The whens for sending CSAT depend on the type of interaction one had. The means for sending or administering the CSAT are also numerous. They include everything from push notifications to SMS, from customised apps to email. Use the way your clients prefer to receive notifications.  

Always Be Measuring: The New ABCs of Marketing

It used to be that companies survived by always being alert to closing sales. Today, word-of-mouth advertising, happy clients and online reviews can generate many more clients for companies.

Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one… increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. The bottom line: keeping the right customers is valuable.

Harvard Business Review, The Value of Keeping the Right Customers

Key takeaway

Rather than waste costly advertising dollars, concentrate on keeping both clients and employees satisfied. This will create a positive feedback loop for boosting loyalty and referrals. 

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