How to measure customer satisfaction, and why it's so important
According to a Helpscout study, 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service. However, only 8% of customers agree with that assessment. Here’s a look at how to measure customer satisfaction, which is doubtlessly a delicate matter.
Having a tenuous grasp on customers’ satisfaction means being equally unable to get a sense of customer loyalty, which is bad news for any business.
Plainly, it can be difficult to be objective when evaluating your own customers’ happiness. Thankfully, the question of how to measure customer satisfaction can be answered with more precision than you might think.
Why is so important to know how to measure customer satisfaction?
For SaaS companies, customer retention is a crucial metric. It’s much more expensive and time-consuming to acquire new business than to build upon an existing relationship. Customer loyalty is paramount to a long and fruitful business relationship.
A major factor in customer loyalty is customer happiness. Given the wealth of options at a dissatisfied customer’s disposal, they will have no qualms taking their business elsewhere in the wake of a bad experience. Figuring out how to measure customer satisfaction is necessary since it can be both an indicator of growth, and a warning measure against churn.
The concept of customer happiness is complex and encompasses many different factors. It’s not as straightforward as measuring revenue or growth, though it definitely affects both of those metrics. This article aims to shed some light on how to measure customer satisfaction and on how to use that insight to your business’ advantage.
The customer satisfaction metrics that matter
Here’s a look at the metrics most utilized when it comes to measuring customer satisfaction.
Customer Satisfaction Score
The customer satisfaction score, or CSAT, is a time-tested metric. It targets the customer with variations of a very basic question: “how would you rate your experience interacting with our sales/customer service/support department?”
The scale typically ranges so: very unsatisfactory / unsatisfactory / neutral / satisfactory / very satisfactory.
The more respondents give a positive answer, the higher your score. Simple.
The CSAT is versatile, since it can relate to any interaction of a client with your business. It’s also immediate, because you will get precise feedback relative to a certain experience. The CSAT is most useful to track short-term changes in customer approval before and after a change or new initiative. If the score shifts notably, you will have an inkling of what did or didn’t go over well.
However, the question won’t cover a customer’s overarching impression of your company. Likewise, its results tend to be biased, since mildly satisfied or dissatisfied customers will tend to disregard the question entirely. Lastly, it won’t be a predictor of customer behavior, nor will it account for your company’s potential for growth. Though the CSAT is an unavoidable metric, it is by no means a complete one.
Net Promoter Score
The Net Promoter Score was introduced to account for the lack of predictive power of the CSAT when in comes to customer loyalty. It begs the following question: “on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend?”
This organizes respondents into three groups:
Calculate your NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from that of promoters. The higher your score, the better.
The question is straightforward and easy to answer. However, detractors are the most likely demographic to respond to this question. This can seem daunting, but in fact is an opportunity to zero in on areas needing improvement, and make a great impression on a dissatisfied customer.
Nevertheless, in a vacuum, the NPS score is rather one-dimensional. Moreover, without incentive, there is no reason for promoter responders to actually make the leap and recommend your brand.
Customer Effort Score
The Customer Effort Score takes a different approach to how to measure customer satisfaction than the previous two methods. It asks the customer: “how hard did you have to work to get a problem fixed/a query answered/a service rendered?”
The scale usually goes from 1 (it was very easy and simple to handle my issue) to 5 (it was a monster headache). The lower your score, the better.
In a now-famous article, it was demonstrated that going above and beyond in terms of customer satisfaction didn’t necessarily result in increased loyalty. Past a certain point, the energy expended to delight a customer is better utilized trying to spare the customer some effort. The CES is a good indicator of increasing customers’ loyalty by saving them time and effort.
Since the scale is close-ended, you could also add an open answer box for the customer to vent. For instance, a response such as “the support team was very helpful, but I if the FAQs had been easier to navigate, I wouldn’t have had to call in the first place” is invaluable. The CES allows you to pinpoint areas of your service which need improvement to better satisfy your customers.
Like the other metrics, the utility of the CES used as a standalone is limited. It takes into account a very important factor for customer loyalty, but still doesn’t encompass the whole picture.
How to measure customer satisfaction directly
The most straightforward way of giving your customers the support they want is by asking them in a directly. Surveys are a useful tool for collecting data pertaining to the customer satisfaction metrics listed above. The various types of surveys target different customer demographics, and will yield different results.
These are presented to the customer while they are in the process of using your service. This means an immediate reaction and a potentially high response rate.
Nevertheless, in-app surveys must be seamlessly inserted to the interface, so as not to pester or detract from the user experience. Adding a subtle comment bar at the top of your interface means only having room for a pictogram-based rating, or one of two questions. Therefore, make them concise and to-the-point.
Post service surveys
These survey the customer immediately following a service. They can occur via email, live chat, or over the phone. It’s essential to not make gathering feedback the only object of the call or message, with no added value to the customer. Rather, ask for feedback right after solving an issue, or while presenting a new feature. Post-service surveys can be a little more long-winded than the previous example, but beware of costing your customer too much additional time.
If you’re looking to ask your customers broader questions, email is the way to go. You can also target segmented customers to ask in-depth questions about their situation. While these surveys have the lowest response rates, they allow customers who wish to do so to answer in greater detail and really give you constructive feedback.
Asking for customer feedback in a survey is one thing, but it’s also important to offer a way for customers to speak up of their own volition.
Dedicating a comment box or an email address to customer satisfaction is a great move. However, customers often won’t bother to leave feedback because they don’t think the company will care, or take it into account. You need to incentivize honest customer involvement, because it your business cannot afford to ignore it.
Explicitly promise speedy involvement, and deliver on it. Responding with a non-automated to submitted feedback is polite and constructive. The result is beneficial to all parties. Customers will get what they wanted, and you can use examples of successfully acting on customer feedback as a success story on your website.
Survey best practices
We’ve seen how surveys can provide valuable insight, and involve customers in a direct process. However, they can be a tricky matter to get right. Here are ways to pull of effective, non-invasive survey campaigns:
- Never presume that your customer’s time is more valuable than yours.
- Keep your questions relevant to your overarching goal of customer loyalty.
- Craft precise questions. Keep them short unless the format of your survey allows for more open-ended questions.
- Ask clever questions. Don’t insult the intelligence of the customer taking the survey. Besides, asking vague or irrelevant questions won’t serve your own purposes.
- Remain unbiased. Don’t use leading questions. It will make your business seem untrustworthy, and false the results of your examination.
- Keep your rating scales consistent and transparent. Don’t mix stars and smiley faces, or switch between numbered scales and letter grades.
There are a number of great tools at your disposal for building professional and effective surveys.
How to measure customer satisfaction without direct feedback
We’ve covered ways to reach out and gauge your customers’ happiness directly. However, there are also means to do so without directly involving your customers. Taxing customers’ attention and good will to gather feedback is necessary, but it’s handy to know about alternative, less intrusive tactics.
You can use your website traffic and content to measure customer satisfaction. Not only will the publication of content drive your activity, but you can use it to gain insight into your customers’ habits. Keep track of shares of your content, of the time spent on your website (especially pages like your roadmap, which will tell you about the interest in your upcoming features), and the bounce rate of your newsletters.
Collecting all this data will be moot if you don’t know what to do with it. Make sure to always align the concrete data with the vision you have for your customer service.
Cover every channel
There are multiple channels to take into account when measuring customer satisfaction. Every means the customer has of getting in touch with your company is an opportunity to gather feedback.
We’ve seen you can conduct surveys over email, on your website, over the phone, etc. But diversifying the channels on which you measure customer satisfaction is a no-brainer. For example, given the growing importance of mobile phones in the field of customer support, it’s important not to neglect that channel.
Social media is also a valuable channel to monitor customer happiness. Its immediacy and personable touch can allow your business to interact with your customers in an informal and proximate way. Customers can contact your business easily and spontaneously, and you can provide equally expeditious support. Keeping track of the fluctuation in followers, shares, and likes on every platform you use will give you a good idea of customers’ loyalty and overall satisfaction.
As we’ve established, measuring customer satisfaction means taking multiple factors into account. You’ll need to be creative to stay relevant and unobtrusive, and draw pertinent conclusions from the mass of information you collect. No metric is perfect on its own, and the real measure of your customers’ satisfaction lies at the intersection of your collected data.