What You Need To Know About Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) In Customer Service

What is CSAT? Why does it matter? How do you achieve a best-in-class CSAT score? Get answers to these questions and more.

What TF is CSAT?

To put it plainly, customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is a key performance indicator used to measure customers’ satisfaction. It gives a broad look at how happy (or unhappy) customers are with a brand, product, service, support interaction, or overall customer experience. 


CSAT in customer experience can indicate problems at various points during the customer journey and help you see where you need to make fixes. This can help increase customer retention, drive revenue, improve positive word-of-mouth, and show that you consider customer feedback to improve your processes.


Of course, simply calculating your CSAT score won’t help your brand achieve any of the above - you actually need to implement a CSAT improvement plan and take action. But before you do that, you need to start measuring CSAT in customer service. 


How to measure CSAT:

Before a CSAT score can be calculated, customer feedback and data need to be gathered. The most common way of obtaining feedback is through customer satisfaction surveys. If you haven’t already created and issued a customer satisfaction survey, odds are you’ve received one and filled it out. 


While customer satisfaction surveys can vary in type, length, and method of distribution, a typical survey would aim to gather an answer to a question similar to “how satisfied were you with this ____?” or “how would you rate your overall satisfaction with ____?”. The goal is to build a survey that garners customer completion and helps you get accurate answers to what you’re looking for. 


Here are a few key things to consider when creating customer satisfaction surveys:


The number of survey questions

CSAT surveys are generally on the shorter side, often asking just one question. After all, shorter surveys tend to have a higher completion rate since it requires less time and effort from the customer. However, if it helps to enrich the feedback collected and provide more context, you may decide to ask a follow-up question or other additional questions.


The type of survey question(s)

The majority of CSAT surveys provide customers with a predetermined set of responses to choose from. A Likert Scale is used in most cases, which presents customers with a scale to rate their level of satisfaction. Sometimes a binary question may be asked and customers just have a “yes” or “no” or maybe a smiley face and frowning face to select from.  


Using these methods not only provides simplicity and consistency, but it makes calculating CSAT a lot easier since CSAT scores utilize quantitative structured data. 


The downside to building a survey with a closed-ended question is the lack of context. In fact, CSAT reports as a whole do not deliver full context, but we’ll get into that later…


Asking an open-ended question can help provide more insight, but it requires more time and effort which may deter customers. Not to mention, it is more challenging to extrapolate data from responses to open-ended questions as opposed to closed-ended questions. 


How and when the survey will be distributed

When it comes to obtaining satisfaction data on customer service experiences, it is effective to ask for feedback immediately after an interaction. This may be through a web form, chat popup, or through a communication channel such as email, in-app, or SMS. Once again, ensuring the survey is fast and easy for customers to fill out will increase the likelihood they’ll complete it. 


How to calculate CSAT:

Once the feedback and data are gathered, calculating the CSAT score is simple. 


You’ll need to know the number of positive responses a survey received as well as the total number of responses. From there, all you need to do is divide the sum of positive responses by the number of total responses, then multiply by 100. The result is the percentage of satisfied customers. 


Here’s the CSAT formula for reference:

(Number of satisfied customers/Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers


What is a good CSAT score?

Your CSAT results are in! But what does it mean? 


Pro tip: resources like the American Customer Service Index (ACIS) can help give you an idea of where your brand stands in comparison to other brands as well as your industry and sector’s average CSAT scores.


You’ll also want to see how your brand’s CSAT score changes over time. Tracking your brand’s progress can help you stay on top of CSAT trends and always be informed of how customers are feeling. To do this, your service organization will need to continuously measure CSAT. 

When you have a solid understanding of how your customers’ level of satisfaction is evolving, you’ll be able to develop a stronger action plan to improve CSAT scores.


How TF do I increase CSAT?

The more satisfied your customers are, the more likely they are to continue doing business with you. They are also more likely to be loyal, and as we know, loyal customers spend more. So by boosting CSAT, you’ll also be helping to boost your brand’s revenue. 


But before you can see results, you need to know what drives customer satisfaction and implement those factors into your CX and CSAT strategies. To help get you started, we're sharing some of the most effective and practical ways to improve customer satisfaction. 


Here are actionable ways to increase CSAT 👇


Listen To Your Customers (and Take Action!)

Your customers are telling you everything you need to know about the CX your brand is offering - are you listening?


A listening ear is essential for any customer-centric business. Being attentive to customers isn't just nice to do, it enables brands to gather valuable information that can be used to invest in the brand-customer relationship, elevate customer experiences, and (you guessed it!) CSAT improvement.


Failing to listen to customers has the following consequences:


Fosters a negative reputation: Customers speak out about negative interactions far more often than positive ones. So, when a customer feels ignored, they usually tell others.


Weakens customer relationships: Customers expect companies to accept feedback and take action. If a customer shares something important with you and nothing happens, they won’t feel cared for.


Loses customers: When customers feel ignored, they’re less likely to come back. You'll not only lose that revenue, but you'll also need to spend money to acquire new customers to replace those dollars. If you have a reputation for not meeting customer needs, it'll be even more difficult to gain new customers. 


Causes product and service misalignment: Without input and feedback from your customers, you might build a product, process, or service that doesn't completely fulfill what your customers are looking for. 


Listening to your customers doesn’t have to be a complex financial lift. Here are 4 accessible and inexpensive ways brands can listen to customers:

1. Ask for feedback 

Don’t underestimate the power of asking for input. Many customers are happy to provide their thoughts if asked. In addition to issuing a CSAT survey to customers after they interact with an agent, you should also be sourcing feedback in other ways. Try posing a question on social media or running a poll. Make it easy  — and possibly even fun — to encourage customers to add in their two cents without spending a lot of time or energy. Even if certain customers don’t respond to a survey or poll, they’ll notice that you want to hear from customers. Just asking for feedback shows customers that you care and want to improve.


2. Compile and track data from your app, website, reviews, etc.

What your customers are saying and doing on your app and website can give you a pulse on what they truly think. You can also mine through reviews to see how customers feel about your product and services. Search certain keywords or collate information that gives you the insight you need to make tweaks. For instance, if you’re focusing on adding features to your subscription service, pinpoint data where customers are offering ideas of what they want.


3. Lean on social media

Take notice of what's happening on social media in regard to your brand. Are you seeing praises or complaints? What in particular do customers appreciate? As you look to social media, be sure you're in the right spot. Is your target audience primarily on Twitter or Instagram? 

And don’t forget to interact with customers on social too! A study by Bain & Co. discovered that companies that respond to customer service messages on social media see customers spend 20-40% more with their brand.


4. Ensure a 360° look

Just because someone posts an angry message on social media, doesn’t mean that’s the most important issue for your company to address. Look at a range of complaints, issues, and praises to find patterns and trends. From there, make well-informed plans about the changes you want to make.


Remember, listening to customers isn’t enough - brands need to take action. With the right data at your disposal, be sure to make customer-centric changes to your products, policies, and procedures. But be sure to respond to and engage with customers also. Rectify mistakes, communicate issues, and exceed their expectations. 


Above all, ensure customers feel heard. This is essential when it comes to improving CSAT scores.


Reduce Customer Effort

The more effort a customer has to put into a service interaction, the less likely they are to continue doing business with that brand. In fact, customers are 87% more likely to go to a competitor after a high-effort service experience. And that’s not all; 77% of consumers say it actually detracts from their quality of life.


On the flip side, a customer is far more likely to do business with you again if it’s easy for them to get what they need. A Gartner study found that if a customer has a low-effort experience, they’re 94% more likely to buy again from a brand.


Needless to say, customer effort is a key piece of the CSAT puzzle.


Working to reduce customers' exertion helps to increase satisfaction and ultimately loyalty. 


To combat high-effort service interactions, many brands are turning to conversational AI. Here’s why. 👇


Leveraging conversational AI enables brands to support more inbound customer requests (24/7/365!) without forfeiting the quality of service. This means customers can receive the quick and effective support they need—even during peak shopping season and unprecedented spikes in ticket volume. This makes things easier for both customers and support agents.


Well-trained AI also never forgets a customer or their history with a brand. With customer context and data readily on hand, customers don’t need to provide as much information each time they contact support. 


The most advanced conversational AI is capable of going beyond surface-level intent to understand customers’ contact reasons, motivations, and sentiment. This high level of understanding not only helps customers receive the service they need but it reduces the back-and-forth between customers and agents. It saves everyone time and effort while ensuring customers are receiving personalized service that makes them feel valued.


Uncover more reasons why 66% of customers said AI makes their lives easier, here


Lower Your Response and Resolution Times

Today's customers have an expectation of immediacy. They want quick responses with clear answers. And they want their issues resolved the first time they reach out.


You can have a great team—and customers who love your product—but if you take a week to resolve a ticket, it won't leave customers happy. 


A big part of your customers' satisfaction is how fast you are. Speed and CSAT are intrinsically related. And to scale your business, you need both components: high CSAT and high speed.


To understand how speed directly impacts your CSAT, it helps to break down a few key components:


Response Time: A Quick Reply Goes a Long Way 

How quickly do customers hear back from you once they reach out? Is it within seconds, minutes, or hours? 


The faster consumers hear from you, the more patience they tend to have while waiting for the issue to be resolved. With that fast initial response, they feel like a priority. You build trust and confidence that you are there to help them.


Resolution Speed: Balancing Haste with Attention to Detail

It ensures that you are delivering high-quality responses fast. 


Getting a customer's issue resolved in the first interaction is vital - but don’t sacrifice the accuracy and quality of the experience for the sake of speed! If you give a rushed answer, your resolution speed might look artificially good, but it may lead to a customer having to reach out again. A second contact will lower your overall resolution speed and put the customer’s satisfaction level at risk. 


Speaking of first contact resolution…


First Contact Resolution: Customers’ Number One Expectation

Microsoft's Global Customer Service Report revealed that when asked about the most important aspect of customer service, the number one response was getting the issue resolved in the first interaction.


And a study by the Service Quality Measurement Group found that each 1% bump in FCR resulted in an exact 1% improvement in CSAT. Their study also showed that brands that receive “world-class” CSAT have an 85% FCR average compared with lower-ranked brands with a 67% FCR average.


The end goal is to have customers who aren't waiting long to get the help they need and come away satisfied with their experience.


So, how can you speed up response and resolution times without hiring more support staff or sacrificing quality? 


Many CX leaders are turning to AI solutions. Not only does AI provide responses and resolutions in a matter of minutes, but it also reduces agents’ workload - further decreasing wait times.


The VP of Customer Happiness at renowned apparel brand, Bombas, implemented Thankful’s AI Agent, an AI automation customer service technology. As a result, Bombas has seen TTFR decrease by 81% and overall time to resolution decrease by 35%! 


The wildly popular accessories brand, Pura Vida, also had success reducing wait times with Thankful’s AI Agent. 


With ticket volumes up 147% and a commensurate increase in wait times, Pura Vida needed a solution to effectively scale. In less than four weeks - faster than they could hire and train more staff or onboard their existing BPO - Pura Vida deployed Thankful’s AI Agent for email support and then proceeded to deploy AI Agent for AI chat support. This helped Pura Vida reduce wait times by 55% amidst rapid growth!


To learn more about how AI can help you speed up your service and boost customer satisfaction schedule a demo.


Consistency Is Key

Customer expectations play an enormous role in customer satisfaction. Depending on someone’s previous buying experiences with you, they may have a certain vision of what their experience will be like. If they expect a response within an hour, they may be upset when it takes two or three.


In other words, your repeat customers grow to expect a standard. If that standard varies, they can be disappointed, which may be enough to lose them.


When customers can count on your brand to provide high-quality experiences every time, they’ll be more satisfied and continue to do business with you. 


With a customer-centric approach, the right tech stack, and refined processes, your service organization will be better equipped to deliver support that delights.

Why TF should brands be looking at more than just CSAT?

While CSAT metrics can be helpful when it comes to evaluating customer happiness and identifying issues along the customer journey, it’s important to keep in mind that CSAT isn’t a perfect measure by itself. 


When it comes to CSAT surveys, you only can gauge the satisfaction of customers who felt compelled to respond to the survey. Sometimes that means you’ll get more disgruntled customers. Sometimes you’ll hear from happy customers who had extra time to respond to the survey. 


There can also be a big variation in what constitutes a satisfactory level of CX. The reality is that each consumer has their own idea of what makes a service interaction satisfying. Not to mention, the definition of satisfaction could mean “okay” to one customer and “amazing” to another.


Then there’s the issue that we mentioned earlier; CSAT scores don’t provide full context. You get some information about how a customer feels after one experience, but you’re not getting the nitty gritty details or the big picture of the full customer journey.


This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t track CSAT, just that you should track CSAT in addition to other key metrics. 


Your service organization should also be tracking time to first response (TTFR), average handle time (AHT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), Voice of Customer (VoC), and ticket reopens among other KPIs. 


Pro tip: get the most out of your CSAT data and look at it in relation to other aspects such as your policies, seasonal fluctuations, and subscription lifecycle. As an example, review your CSAT and response times side by side. If you see a correlation between timely responses and customer satisfaction, that shows your responses are not only quick but give customers what they need.


Using a data tool that allows a single view of all your support metrics can help your business decipher data and identify trends from the voice of the customer that can help improve your CX.


A blend of key metrics is critical. Tracking them in relation to your CSAT keeps you in tune with your customers and their experiences. With strong data and more context, your service organization will be better equipped to provide service experiences that achieve customer satisfaction and beyond!