Every day unsatisfied customers cost businesses a lot of money. In fact, studies show that 80% of customers will switch companies after one poor service experience. 

The first step to overcoming this is to admit that you have room for improvement. The second step is to measure customer satisfaction to find out where you currently stand.

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Measuring customer satisfaction doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, it's fairly simple to incorporate customer satisfaction measurement into your current customer success strategy.

No matter how you cut it, measuring satisfaction comes down to gathering customer feedback via surveys. To accurately gauge customer sentiment, we'll simply need to ask them how their experience was.

Of course, there are multiple ways you can execute a survey, from the design to timing, sample, and even how you analyze the data. Regardless of the approach you choose, there are some fundamental steps that needed to be taken to ensure your business profits from its investment. 

In this post, let's cover the steps for measuring customer satisfaction, then we'll list some ways you can achieve it at your business. 

1. Define your goals. 

When embarking on any sort of campaign, it's helpful to take a step back and ask, "Why are we doing this?"

In business, one must weigh the value of information -- the customer satisfaction data -- against the cost of collecting it -- the survey process. To be honest, if you won't change anything after collecting your customer satisfaction data, you're better off not collecting it at all. It's going to take time and effort, so you need to put it to use.

Depending on your business or organizational capabilities, there's a lot you can do with this information. It's important to have a goal in mind so you can get the most out your customer data. Every business faces disappointed or upset customers, but not every company has a solution.

With that in mind, the specific solution isn't necessarily the important part here. The important part is stepping back and saying, "If we see that a segment of our customers is unsatisfied, what will we do about it?"

2. Outline your plan. 

Once your goals are defined, you need an actionable plan to achieve them. Prior to collecting your customer data, your team should outline the actions you'll take after feedback is gathered and analyzed. Some examples you can execute are:

  • Improve key UX bottlenecks that contribute to poor customer experience.
  • Expedite customer support interactions with the most frustrated customers.
  • Operationalize proactive support like a knowledge base and customer education.
  • Test different live chat scripts and support strategies.

You can also plan actions based on your segment of highly satisfied customers. Methodologies like NPS® segment your customers into promoters, passives, and detractors for a few reasons. First, NPS provides you with an aggregate NPS score, thus providing a health check and a longitudinal metric to track and improve over time.

Second, it gives you the possibility of segmenting customers based on attitudinal metrics like satisfaction. You can offer your promoters special perks or encourage them to spread the word about your business; they're the most probable people to act as your "external sales force" -- in other words, your willing and excited customer advocates.

3. Choose a type of customer satisfaction survey.

Once you've sat down and discussed your plans with key stakeholders, you need to design your survey. The first step you should take is determining the type of metrics you'll use to measure customer satisfaction. 

What types of metrics measure customer satisfaction?

You can choose among a few different options for customer satisfaction surveys. There's no unanimous agreement on which one is best. A few popular methods are:

These are all "one-question" methods that vastly simplify the process of collecting customer insights. While you may not think the survey methodology matters much, how you ask the question measures different variables.

1. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the most commonly used satisfaction method. You ask your customers to rate their satisfaction on a linear scale. Your survey scale can be 1 – 3, 1 – 5, or 1 – 10, and there's no universal agreement on which scale is best to use.

Group 2rate-1-min

CSAT is a metric used to immediately evaluate a customer's specific experience. Here's how Vipin Thomas, Global Lead of Customer Success at Freshdesk, put it:

"CSAT is a transactional metric that's based on what's happening now to a user's satisfaction with a product or service. We try and get a CSAT score within 15 minutes of an interaction.

It's super helpful to improvise on the resolution, mode of delivery, channel, etc. It's ONE of the important metrics to evaluate the performance of the support desk. In fact, we publish ours publicly as well."

Download Our Free CSAT Calculator Here

 

2. Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score (CES) is very similar, but instead of asking how satisfied the customer was, you ask them to gauge the ease of their experience.

You're still measuring satisfaction, but this way you're gauging user effort -- the assumption being that the easier a task is the better the experience. As it turns out, making an experience a low-effort one is one of the greatest ways to reduce frustration and disloyalty.

A CES survey may look something like this:

Group 3ease-min

Download Our Free CES Calculator Here

 

3. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS asks the question, "How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?"

This measures customer satisfaction but also customer loyalty. In doing so, you can come up with an aggregate score, but you can also segment your responses into three categories: detractors, passives, and promoters.

Group 3nps-1-min

You calculate your Net Promoter Score by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

NPS is often used as a more general indicator of customer loyalty and brand devotion. Here's how Thomas explains it:

"NPS is consumed by various different teams to drive retention, sales, product improvements & advocacy.

Some important things to consider would be the channel it's delivered on -- email, in-product, phone -- the frequency of delivery, and the target audience within the customer base".

4. Customize your survey's layout and questions. 

The above three styles are commonly used, but those aren't your only options for customer satisfaction surveys. Depending on your goals you can also send longer email surveys that include things like demographic questions. Really, you can customize it to your desires -- just remember that shorter surveys tend to have better completion rates.

Most importantly, don't ask questions if you won't do anything with the information. This not only wastes your time, but your customers' time as well. And, studies show that 66% of adults believe that the most important thing a company can do is value their time. 

Still, sometimes longer surveys can be useful, like in the example below. 

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 7.56.32 PM-minCreated using Google Forms

You can use more than one methodology -- since they all measure something different. In fact, Vipin Thomas explains how you can combine multiple scores for a greater picture of customer satisfaction:

"We take CSAT and NPS very seriously, both independently and in conjunction, since a single measure alone won't show the true picture of why customers are detractors or promoters (NPS) or why you have a lesser than expected CSAT.

CSAT, in conjunction with NPS, helps with a very targeted approach and often is a more accurate indicator to spot an advocate or someone at risk of churn.

For example, a customer that has had three continuous, negative CSAT scores and is also a detractor on NPS would be an immediate at-risk customer. A customer with positive CSAT and a promoter on NPS are potentially the best source of advocacy and candidates to cross-sell or upsell since they already have seen the value in their interactions with the process and product."

Additionally, I recommend always appending a qualitative, open-ended question, regardless of the survey you use. Without an open-ended question, you risk limiting your insight into "why" the dissatisfaction may be occurring. Qualitative user feedback can give you tons of ideas when it comes to implementing solutions.

Here's how Luke Harris, Customer Success Director at Wayin, puts it:

"Qualitative data is the nirvana many of us are searching for, because it provides us with the most human version of customer satisfaction with the added benefit of scale and replicability.

To be able to unbiasedly, capture and track qualitative data helps - especially a scaling business - to quickly ascertain where it should focus, both in terms of product support and development."

Download Our Free NPS Calculator Here

 

5. Determine your survey's trigger.

This step is all about who you're sending the survey to and when you're sending it.

If you go back to your goals outline, this shouldn't be too hard to determine, at least strategically. People tend to forget this step, but it's crucial as it affects the quality and utility of your data.

Tactically, you can trigger a survey pretty much anywhere, at any time, and to anyone. But, doing it strategically, matters specifically when and where it's triggered.

Good examples of event data that can be used to fire a survey are:

  • Time since signup
  • Key actions taken in your app -- for instance, Qualaroo asks right after you receive your 10th survey response
  • Complete user onboarding

Surveying too often will result in low response rates, so we recommend a customer satisfaction (NPS) survey seven days after signup, 30 days after the first survey and every 90 days during the customer lifecycle.

Additionally, different business questions require different survey triggers. You also need to take into account longitudinal data -- how customers' satisfaction scores change over time. Here's how Nils Vinje, VP of Customer Success at Rainforest QA, put it:

"The best time to trigger/send a customer satisfaction survey is after a meaningful part of the customer lifecycle is completed. "

Best Practices For Survey Triggering

With all the options for triggering, though, let's start with some best practices:

  • The closer the survey is to the experience, the better.
  • People forget how they felt the longer you wait.
  • Who you survey changes what insights you get. If you survey website visitors about their satisfaction, the respondents are anonymous and may be a customer or they may not. This will bring you different data than sending an email to recent customers.
  • You should survey your customers more than once to see how things change longitudinally. Especially if you operate a SaaS company or a subscription service, regular NPS surveys can help you analyze trends both at the aggregate and individual level.
  • Survey people after a key moment of their customer journey.
  • If a respondent gives you a high score, think about adding a follow-up ask. For instance, Tinder asks you to rate their app in the app store if you give them a high score.

6. Select your survey medium. 

In general, there are three primary methods by which you can send customer satisfaction surveys:

  • In-App or On-Site Surveys
  • Post-Service or Post-Purchase Surveys
  • Long Email Surveys

Each of these may require a different software or tool. For instance, Usabilla or HotJar specialize in triggered in-app surveys. But if you're sending post-purchase surveys, you may need something that offers a web interface, like Typeform. Email surveys can usually be performed with any survey tool, like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms.

Matt Hogan, Head of Customer Success at Intricately, also emphasizes the need to collect continuous and real-time feedback, regardless of major feature launches or company-based events:

"I recommend surveying in-app and on a rolling basis. This will keep the constant feedback loop going. The technology available makes it easy to manage this."

7. Analyze your survey data.

Once you've collected your data, make sure it doesn't just sit there dormant and unused. You've got all this customer insight, and it's just waiting to be uncovered!

Depending on the survey's format, this could be a simple process or one that requires a Ph.D. in statistics and survey design.

As I mentioned before, calculating Net Promoter Score (NPS) is straightforward. You just subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Most NPS tools give you the ability to easily segment respondents based on their category, and they usually integrate with products where you can take action based on each segment. For instance, HubSpot users can easily integrate with their survey tool of choice to trigger emails based on survey response score.

example-list-survey-response-and-question-min

8. Make adjustments and repeat.

Back to my first point: Now that you have these insights, what are you going to do about it?

Ultimately, this is a personal decision that will reflect your own findings and capabilities. You may find that a whole segment is dissatisfied because of a particular experience. In that case, you may need to further investigate why that experience is causing dissatisfaction and make changes to improve upon it. You may find that you have a small percentage of super fans.

Now that you can identify these people, perhaps you can work with your marketing and customer success teams to plan advocacy programs.

The possibilities are endless, but it all starts with accurately measuring customer satisfaction. But asking for scores is only a part of it -- make sure you're creating conditions for customers to leave you high scores, too. Check out the HubSpot Customer Code and these tips from other companies for more ideas.

To learn more, make sure you're avoiding these customer satisfaction survey mistakes.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

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 Customer Service Metrics

Originally published Aug 7, 2019 12:41:00 AM, updated August 07 2019

Topics:

Customer Satisfaction