What is CSAT? Explaining The Customer Satisfaction Score

Jake Bartlett
Jake Bartlett
April 3, 2024

There are many ways to measure how customers feel about your product or service, and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) is one of the most popular methods. 

In this article, we’ll define what CSAT is, why it’s important, and how to measure it. We’ll also look at the relationship between CSAT scores and customer expectations. 

What is the definition of CSAT?

Let’s start by looking at the CSAT score definition. CSAT stands for Customer Satisfaction and it is one of the core customer service metrics businesses use to measure how customers feel about the product and service.

Customer service teams use CSAT surveys to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from customers about how satisfied they are.

This data can then be used to make improvements to both customer service workflows and the product or service a business provides.

Key factors that impact CSAT scores

There are a few key factors that can impact how your customers respond to CSAT surveys. 

  • The quality of your product or service
  • Customer support responsiveness 
  • Customer support experience overall
  • Ease of use
  • Timeliness of delivery or service
  • Value vs. cost

Why is measuring customer satisfaction important?

CSAT helps you understand how your customers are feeling about your business. These insights give you powerful data to understand what’s working well and what needs to be improved.

A lot of businesses fall into the trap of assuming they know how customers feel. This assumption can be costly, as you miss out on improving systems, processes, service experiences, and products. If your customers aren’t happy, you want to know, and this is where CSAT shines. 

Unhappy customers are more likely to leave and use a competitor. On the other hand, satisfied customers are more likely to stick around and be a champion for your business.

CSAT scores ultimately help you identify opportunities for improving customer retention and growth. Simply put, the happier customers are, the more they will spend and the longer they will remain a customer.

Customer satisfaction scores also promote a culture of continuous improvement, and this can result in happier employees. Happier employees are then more engaged and motivated to provide better service.

So happier employees make happy customers, and happy customers make happy employees. This cycle is extremely powerful in building a strong business that customers want to work with.

As you can see, the benefits of measuring customer satisfaction are broad. Similar (although different) to Net Promoter Score (NPS), CSAT gives businesses a high-level view of customer sentiment.

What is a CSAT score?

A CSAT score is typically collected through a survey or feedback form of some sort after or during a customer support interaction. It usually has a 5-point rating system, with the option to leave comments or additional feedback.

Explanation of CSAT score

Most CSAT scores are calculated using a 5-point scale, however, a 10-point scale is also common. The scale might be tied to verbiage such as “very satisfied,” “satisfied,” “neutral,” “dissatisfied,” “very dissatisfied,” and so on. 

Many businesses also allow customers to leave comments for additional feedback. This combination of quantitative and qualitative data provides a rich view of how customers are feeling.

Now let’s look at the calculation and formula behind measuring customer satisfaction.

How CSAT is calculated

Customers are prompted to participate in a very brief set of survey questions asking for their level of satisfaction. This typically happens during an interaction between the customer and the support team, and most often, when that interaction concludes.

A CSAT survey should be short and sweet, giving the customer the option to select a single rating for how they feel, typically using a five-point scale.

Additionally, customers might have the option to leave comments/additional feedback. On a five-point rating scale, the lowest level of satisfaction is 1, and the highest level of satisfaction is 5.

Once CSAT scores are collected, they are aggregated and analyzed to determine the overall customer satisfaction score for your customers as a collective.

CSAT is usually shown as a percentage that represents the company’s CSAT score. Calculating CSAT is simple and is done by looking at the number of positive responses out of 100.

(The total number of satisfied responses) ÷ (Number of total rratings) x 100 = % of satisfied customers. 

A high CSAT score indicates customer expectations are being met and customers are, for the most part, happy with your product or service.

A low CSAT score is an opportunity to make improvements to the customer experience in hopes of seeing a positive impact on customer loyalty.

A good CSAT score is usually > 90% and ideally, closer to 94%. 

The relationship between CSAT scores and customer expectations

Customer service is all about meeting (at the very least) customer expectations. However, to stand out from your competitors, you need to exceed expectations whenever possible. That’s not a small feat, as customer expectations are higher than ever today.

Meeting vs. exceeding customer expectations

If businesses across all industries share one goal, it is to meet customer expectations. Not doing so hurts customer satisfaction which can impact retention and ultimately, your bottom line.

Focusing on meeting and exceeding customer expectations gives you a competitive advantage compared to customers who are less customer-focused. It ensures your customer service team is well-trained and equipped to handle customer questions and problems, and it ensures your product team is focused on doing quality work. 

This improves your relationship with customers and builds a positive reputation around your company which can spread like wild fire and bring you even more customers. Let’s take a look at an example of meeting vs. exceeding a customer’s expectations.

Example of meeting customer expectations

Let’s say you ordered a new French press and it arrives broken. You call the company and ask for a refund or a replacement. They oblige and expedite you a new French press. 

In this example, the company addresses the problem quickly, and the support team handles the issue with care and empathy. The customer’s expectations have been met. 

Example of exceeding customer expectations

Let’s take the same scenario. Except for this time, your replacement French press includes a free bag of coffee.

In this example, the company exceeds expectations by providing a replacement quickly and going the extra mile to send a free bag of coffee. The free bag of coffee isn’t necessary, it’s the cherry on top. It’s a little something extra to say “Sorry for the problem.”.

Exceeding expectations, while sometimes costly, can often have a good return on investment by creating a champion out of the customer. These moments create delightful experiences and lasting memories.

Understanding changing customer needs

Customer needs and expectations change over time. Technological advancements and changes in markets and industries can impact what customers expect from businesses. 

CSAT surveys can bring light to changing customer needs and help you implement the necessary things in your product or service for improving customer experiences and building customer loyalty.

For example, without a CSAT survey, you might not realize that your customers now need and expect initial response times to be within 1 hour whereas they were previously satisfied with longer response times. 

How to collect CSAT scores effectively

Measuring CSAT isn’t rocket science, it’s actually quite easy to create a survey and get it implemented within your support workflow.

1. Choose the right survey method

First, you need to choose the tool you’ll use to create the survey. There are many tools available that help you measure customer satisfaction easily.

Tools like Nicereply, AskNicely, SurveyMonkey, and GetFeedback have been popular with support teams for many years. You can also create your own survey using Google Forms or another survey tool. 

Once you’ve decided which tool you will use, you’ll need to determine the rating scale you will use to collect feedback. If you want more granular data, go with a broader (10-point) rating scale. If you want a simple survey with less granular data to analyze, a 3- or 5-point rating scale might be adequate. 

Most CSAT surveys give the responder an option to leave additional comments and this qualitative data can often bring in a lot of rich feedback for not just your support team, but your company as a whole. 

A quick note on survey bias:

Beware of survey bias when designing and distributing your survey. There are two types of survey bias:

  • Selection bias: when results are skewed based on who received the survey.
  • Response bias: when results are skewed due to how the actual survey is designed or constructed and it encourages a certain type of answer.

Survey bias can lead to false understandings which can result in poor business decisions and missed opportunities. 

2. Determine the right timing

Once the survey is designed and ready to go, you need to determine where you will distribute the survey. This is often done at the end of the support exchange, as a follow-up the next day, or X hours after the ticket is closed. 

The goal is to get as many responses as possible. The higher the response rate, the more data you’ll get and the richer those insights will be. Of course, this depends on how much support ticket volume your team handles. It’s ok to experiment with distribution methods and times until you find what works for you.

The Steps To Implementing the CSAT Survey

  1. Define Objectives:
    • Clearly outline what you aim to achieve with the CSAT campaign (e.g., understanding satisfaction levels after a product launch or a support interaction).
  2. Select a Survey Tool:
    • Choose a survey platform or tool that integrates well with your customer service software and offers ease of use for creating and distributing surveys (e.g., Nicereply, SurveyMonkey, GetFeedback).
  3. Design the Survey:
    • Create a brief survey that includes a clear CSAT question, typically measured on a 5-point scale.
    • Include an option for open-ended feedback to collect qualitative insights.
    • Ensure the survey is mobile-friendly and accessible.
  4. Identify the Target Audience:
    • Decide on the customer segments to target (e.g., all customers, customers who contacted support in the last month).
  5. Plan the Distribution Strategy:
    • Determine the timing and channels for distributing the survey (e.g., immediately after a support interaction, via email, embedded in the support chat interface).
    • Ensure the timing is appropriate to capture the most accurate reflection of the customer’s experience.
  6. Test the Survey:
    • Conduct a pilot test with a small group of customers or internally to ensure clarity and functionality.
  7. Launch the Campaign:
    • Roll out the survey to the selected audience, monitoring distribution and response rates.
  8. Monitor and Collect Responses:
    • Keep track of the survey responses and completion rates in real-time.
    • Be prepared to adjust the distribution strategy if needed to improve response rates.
  9. Analyze the Data:
    • Aggregate the data to calculate the overall CSAT score.
    • Analyze qualitative feedback for additional insights.
    • Look for patterns or trends related to specific aspects of the customer experience.
  10. Share Insights with the Team:
    • Distribute the findings with relevant teams (product, customer service, etc.) to inform improvements.
    • Use Tettra or a similar knowledge base to document insights and actions taken for future reference.
  11. Act on Feedback:
    • Prioritize actions based on the feedback collected.
    • Implement changes aimed at improving the customer experience.
  12. Follow Up:
    • If applicable, follow up with customers who provided feedback to let them know how their input has been used to make improvements.
    • This step reinforces the value of their feedback and can enhance customer loyalty.
  13. Repeat Regularly:
    • CSAT should be measured continuously or at regular intervals to monitor changes over time and ensure ongoing improvement efforts are effective.

Challenges with CSAT surveys

Customer satisfaction surveys are meant to measure customer happiness with your support team. A support rep might knock it out of the park — they responded quickly and with empathy, and they went above and beyond to solve the customer’s problems. 

Still, the CSAT response from that customer might be negative because of dissatisfaction with the product itself, not the support interaction. 

It’s important to consider this when tying CSAT scores to customer support KPIs.

The support team doesn’t have full control of the CSAT score, it’s a team-wide effort. Yet, many businesses use CSAT scores as a key performance indicator of how well the support team is doing their job.

Measuring customer experience with customer satisfaction 

While CSAT is a dedicated type of customer satisfaction survey, it’s not alone.

Surveys like NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CES (Customer Effort Score) are also common ways of measuring your customers’ perception of your experience.

Whatever type of survey you choose to go with, make sure it is well thought-out, and make sure you’re taking action on the data and insights you receive. 

Feedback is a gift. Every piece of it is an opportunity for your company and support team to learn and improve, and CSAT is a great place to start learning more about your customers’ needs and expectations to ensure you’re delivering the best product or service possible.

How To Use Tettra to Store Your CSAT Scores

Tettra’s knowledge base can be a powerful tool for storing and leveraging CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) scores. By adding CSAT surveys directly into the knowledge base, your team can search and find past CSAT scores and reports.

This data serves as a foundation for identifying strengths and areas for improvement across various touchpoints.

Tettra’s capabilities for organizing and analyzing feedback enable customer service teams to track the impact of specific changes on customer satisfaction over time.

By centralizing this information, teams across the organization can access insights and contribute to strategies aimed at enhancing customer experiences.

Start your free trial of Tettra today.

Jake Bartlett is a writer for tech companies and customer-centric businesses. He has 13 years of experience working in customer support and success, across various roles. You can find out more about Jake on his website.