6 Steps to Measure Customer Satisfaction

7 min to read · By VHT

We spend a lot of time talking about customer satisfaction. As an industry, it’s really our bread and butter, so it makes sense that we would be constantly focused on ensuring customers are happy and satisfied.

Taking it a step further: Setting the gauge for customer retention on the concept of “customer satisfaction” falls short if we don’t dig in to determine what we’re measuring that allows us to say, “Yes, our customers are satisfied.”

It would be nice to think that if customers aren’t complaining, they’re satisfied—but that’s a pretty shallow thought. Maybe they aren’t really happy, but they’re satisfied “enough,” and that’s all we care about.

Where do we begin when it comes to customer satisfaction to know, first and foremost, if our customers are satisfied? And then, just how satisfied?

Because you can’t work on improving customer perception and satisfaction without truly know what they think.

1. Define your research focus.

The first step in measuring customer satisfaction is to decide what you want to learn from your customers and which segment of your customer base you want to look at.

Are customers who bought from you online more satisfied or less satisfied than customers who went into your store? Are new customers more satisfied than those who’ve been with you for 6-12 months? You likely have many questions to answer relating to customer satisfaction levels, but you shouldn’t try to answer all of them in one go.

If you try to measure satisfaction levels across all your customers at once, you’ll end up with too much data to analyze. It will be difficult to draw actionable insights. Instead, narrow your research focus.

Naturally, you want all your customers to be satisfied with your products and service. But you’ll get more useful information if you split your customers into groups or cohorts based on similar characteristics. This will help you uncover trends in the customer experience common to that group of customers. Then you can use those insights to improve the experience for the next group of customers who fit those criteria.

2. Devise a plan.

A clear plan is essential for collecting feedback and using it to measure customer satisfaction levels. It helps to keep everyone focused on the end result: using insights from current customers to improve satisfaction in the future.

Once you know what you’re going to focus on, put together a specific plan for carrying out your customer research. This should cover everything from the timeframe of your research and the type of information you’re looking for to how you’re going to collect your data, analyze it, and distribute your findings.

3. Design effective surveys.

To measure customer satisfaction, you need to understand your customer’s experience using your product or service. The best way to get these insights is to ask them by sending out an online or in-app survey. Some common customer satisfaction survey types include:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures how satisfied customers are with your product, service, or customer support based on how customers rank their satisfaction on a scale from 1-10.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) asks, “How likely is it that you would recommend this [product/service/company] to a friend or colleague?” It separates your customers into promoters, passives, and detractors based on their overall satisfaction levels.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) asks customers to rate how easy they found using your products or services—the amount of effort they had to put in to achieve their desired result.

The most effective surveys are short (the more questions you ask, the less likely it is customers will complete it) and include open-ended questions to get customers to describe their experience in their own words. You can also send longer surveys to gather additional insights.

4. Collect customer feedback.

Customer feedback gives you fantastic insight into how satisfied your customers are. Here are some different methods for collecting feedback from your customers.

Online customer satisfaction surveys

Online surveys are one of the most common ways to measure customer satisfaction. CSAT surveys are customer surveys sent once or twice a year to collect customer feedback at scale. If you send large-scale online surveys more frequently than that, you’re likely to see low response rates from your customers.

We’ve put together a complete guide to CSAT surveys, which answers some of the most common questions about customer satisfaction surveys. It will help you understand who to send your survey to and what questions to ask to get useful insights that will help you improve the customer experience.

Live chats

Live chats on your website or in your app allow you to engage with your customers in real-time. To understand how satisfied your customers are with your service, have a chatbot running on your order confirmation page. When a customer has completed an order, this would pop up and ask a customer satisfaction question, for example: “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied were you with today’s experience?”

Once the customer selects their response, have a live chat agent jump in to ask follow-up questions or set up the bot to ask what was good (or bad) about the customer’s experience.

Social media

From glowing reviews to angry complaints, social media is where customers share honest, unfiltered feedback about products and companies. A quick search on Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook is likely to show customers talking about your company.

Monitor social media mentions of your company, and use sentiment analysis to understand how satisfied (or unsatisfied) customers are with your company based on their messages. Your social media team should also keep an eye on your company’s posts and adverts—unhappy customers often leave comments on companies’ adverts and promoted posts as a different way to share their complaints.

You can also use social media to ask customers for feedback by running polls or asking customers to leave you a review.

IVR and voice

Of course, if you’re looking to understand the satisfaction of a customer that’s interacted with your contact center, IVR and post-call surveys over voice are still a very popular choice for many brands. This gives customers the choice to stay on the line and give very immediate and relevant feedback.

Wish lists

What are the things your customers wish you did? Services they wish you offered? These may not always be possible, but worst case, they offer insight into your customer’s needs and the potential to partner with a provider of those needs. Best case scenario, your customers just did your product/service viability testing for you, and you have a whole new service line to offer.

So again, ask them the questions. Most customers are happy to give you their two cents, and it can provide invaluable ROI to spend the time and resources to ask the question.

Collect customer surveys with the right tool. Brands that want to get in front of customers in any channel and deliver timely, express feedback to their customer experience teams will love Survey Dynamix. With roots in the contact center, Survey Dynamix can provide leaders with immediate, real-time customer feedback to measure extremely accurate and raw customer satisfaction data.

5. Monitor churn rate.

Dissatisfied customers don’t always complain. Sometimes they just leave. Customer churn rate is the percentage of customers lost in a given period, which makes it a really important metric to keep an eye on.

When a customer churns, that’s a clear indication they’re unsatisfied with your products or services. A high customer churn rate—or one that’s increasing month-on-month—suggests you need to think about new ways to retain your existing customers and focus on improving customer happiness.

Track your customer churn rate regularly, so you can see how it changes over time and spot emerging trends in customer satisfaction levels.

6. Review your data.

When you’ve sent out your customer satisfaction surveys and collated customer feedback from multiple sources, it’s tempting to think you’re done. But you still need to review your data to understand your customer satisfaction levels.

Refer back to your plan and use that to guide your analysis, looking for trends that’ll give you useful insights to help improve the customer experience moving forward.

For high-level customer satisfaction insights, look at your CSAT, NPS, and CES scores—and how they change over time. Then look for trends and patterns in survey responses, live chat, and social media messages to get a deeper understanding of your customers’ experience.

Summing up

For most brands, knowing where to start isn’t the challenge—it’s ensuring the measurement is consistent, accurate, and insightful.

Stay focused and stick to your plan. If you’re not getting a solid take rate, or you think the data is skewed, follow the best practices to make your CSAT surveys fresh and effective. Make sure you’re present where your customers are, and that you monitor and review the data regularly.

Looking to become a CSAT expert? Read our library of resources on customer satisfaction.


This post was originally published in December 2017, and has since been updated.

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