What is customer satisfaction score? (+ how to measure CSAT)
A customer satisfaction score—or CSAT score—is an important customer engagement metric that measures a buyer’s contentment with a business’s offerings and services.
By Court Bishop, Contributing Writer
Last updated November 8, 2023
Knowledge is power—especially when you’re looking to improve CSAT scores.
Regardless of industry, customer satisfaction is a must for a business’s success. Survey buyers regularly and track CSAT scores to gauge the customer experience (CX). This can foster customer loyalty and help you learn where you excel and where you fall short.
To become a customer-centric business, you must understand how to collect and utilize CSAT data. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to accomplish both tasks and offer some tips along the way.
- What is a customer satisfaction (CSAT) score?
- How to measure customer satisfaction
- CSAT score calculator
- Why are CSAT scores important?
- Customer satisfaction formulas
- What is a good CSAT score?
- What to do with CSAT scores
- CSAT scores by industry
- How to improve your CSAT score
- CSAT score FAQ
- Let your customers tell you what they want
- Downloadable CSAT survey templates
What is a customer satisfaction (CSAT) score?
Support teams can find their company’s CSAT score by surveying customers with a Likert scale. A Likert scale is a popular survey rating system that allows users to rate their experiences by replying with a number. The number represents the level at which they agree or disagree with a question or statement.
To calculate customer satisfaction, surveyors ask a single question, like: How satisfied are you with [product/service/experience]?
Then you can follow up with either a five- or 10-point scale for customers to illustrate their satisfaction levels. The responses are typically:
- Very dissatisfied
- Very satisfied
- Very unlikely
- Very likely
Businesses can also follow up with a comment box to gather additional context from respondents.
How to measure customer satisfaction
Businesses can calculate their customer satisfaction scores using a CSAT calculator or formula. If using the formula method, use one of two formulas (composite or detailed) to calculate CSAT.
The basic process is as follows:
- The first step is to send a survey using the right customer satisfaction survey questions.Businesses can typically collect feedback via a:
- Survey software
- Once you receive your responses, you can find the final CSAT value in one of three ways:
- CSAT calculator: Plug in the data from your survey into a calculator (like the one below) to quickly find your CSAT score.
- Composite customer satisfaction score formula: This is the average of your survey scores.
- Detailed customer satisfaction score formula: This is the percentage of customers who consider themselves “satisfied.”
Note: The formulas are based on a five-point Likert scale. We’ll cover them both in-depth below.
CSAT score calculator
Calculate customer satisfaction at your organization with our free CSAT calculator. Just enter the number of responses from your five- or 10-point CSAT survey to get a score.
CSAT score: 0%
0% Very satisfied
0% Very Dissatisfied
Why are CSAT scores important?
CSAT scores are important because customer service teams can analyze them and gather key insights that substantially impact customer experiences without exerting much effort. This CX metric can help businesses:
- Measure customer sentiment and monitor their satisfaction levels over time.
- Make data-driven decisions that influence sales and overall profit.
- Boost customer retention and loyalty.
According to our CX Trends Report 2022, 81 percent of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases their likelihood of making another purchase.
If companies want to increase profitability and brand loyalty, they need to use customer feedback (like CSAT scores) to their advantage.
Gain a better understanding of customer sentiment
This helps you discover exactly what your customers need from your product or service and provides insights into their frustrations, sales bottlenecks, and the overall health of your company.
Make data-driven organizational changes
Businesses can make product or organizational changes to improve the customer experience using customer satisfaction survey results.
If you receive poor feedback, conduct more research to determine if the issues stem from lackluster sales and support interactions or dissatisfaction with your products. Depending on what you learn, you can implement impactful improvements such as:
- Providing additional training for team members
- Creating new products
- Upgrading or re-releasing existing products
- Creating new internal processes and protocols
Boost customer retention and loyalty
When you have a large customer base, identifying individual buyers at risk of churning can be difficult.
By studying CSAT scores, you can often pinpoint unhappy customers, giving you time to make adjustments before you lose them. Plus, when consumers see that you’re accepting their feedback and actively improving your products and processes, it speaks volumes about your company’s commitment to its customers, and often inspires customer loyalty.
CSAT metrics don’t only measure dissatisfaction or customer churn; they can also help you create customer advocates.
While you should certainly pay attention to—and act on—negative feedback, positive comments can be just as beneficial for growing your business.
Pay attention to those who give you top scores and reach out to them. Thank them for their business, and ask them to leave a review or share their experience on social media to gain more word-of-mouth referrals.
Customer satisfaction formulas
There are a few CSAT formulas for calculating a CSAT score.
If you need general averages, use the composite CSAT formula. If you want more information about satisfied customers, use one of the detailed CSAT formulas listed below.
CSAT formula: Composite customer satisfaction score
Calculate the composite score by adding up all of the customer satisfaction scores and dividing them by the highest possible score. Then, multiply by 100 to get the percentage.
Sum of all scores / total # of responses x 100 = % of satisfied customers
CSAT formula: Detailed customer satisfaction score
To calculate the percentage of satisfied customers, divide the total number of customers who are “very satisfied” (5) or “satisfied” (4) by the total number of responses. Then, multiply that result by 100 to get your customer satisfaction percentage.
# of satisfied respondents (rated you a 4 or 5) / # of total survey respondents x 100 = % of satisfied customers
To measure the number of extremely satisfied customers, divide the number of customers who rated you a 5 by the total number of respondents.
# of extremely satisfied respondents only (rated you a 5) / # of total survey respondents x 100 = % of extremely satisfied customers
CSAT score calculation example
Let’s review an example. Say you survey a group of 10 customers and receive the following responses.
In this scenario, “Respondent score” references the customers’ answers, and “Maximum score” refers to the total number of points they could have given you. Since the maximum score is 5, we can deduce that the CSAT survey is based on a five-point scale.
That means we can use either formula without making any adjustments.
The composite customer satisfaction score for this data set is 70 percent.
To find this answer, follow these five steps:
- Add up all of the respondent scores, which in this case, equals 35.
- Divide 35 by the maximum score possible, which is 50.
- Now, your equation is 35 ÷ 50, which equals 0.7.
- Then, multiply the total, 0.7, by 100 to get a percentage.
- The final equation is 0.7 x 100, which equals 70%.
The detailed customer satisfaction score for this data set is 50 percent.
Follow these steps to calculate the percentage of satisfied or extremely satisfied customers:
- Calculate the sum of all respondents who scored the business a 4 or 5. In this scenario, there were five in total.
- Since there were a total of 10 respondents, the formula is 5 ÷ 10, which equals 0.5.
- Then, we turn 0.5 into a percentage by multiplying it by 100.
- The new formula is 0.5 x 100, which equals 50 percent.
What is a good CSAT score?
Many industries consider a CSAT score between 75 and 85 percent as good and a score above 90 percent as exemplary.
Of course, this number is subjective, so expectations may vary slightly between industries and individual businesses.
Regardless of your percentage, if your CSAT score increases over time, your team is doing something right. Continue to measure your business’s success by setting benchmarks and regularly tracking your progress.
What to do with CSAT scores
By administering CSAT surveys, business leaders can evaluate buyers’ satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the company’s products, services, and customer support. Here are a few useful ways to utilize CSAT score data:
- Conceptualize ideas to improve support interactions and protocols.
- Train agents on communication, professionalism, and best practices.
- Improve your offerings and message to improve public perception.
- Identify opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
- Encourage repeat purchases.
CSAT scores by industry
To find more details about the standard in your industry, consult resources like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The ACSI provides CSAT score benchmarks for a number of business sectors and individual companies.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of every existing sector and business type—but it’s a good start for benchmarking your CSAT scores against industry averages.
Consumer shipping: 77
Search engines and information: 75
Social media: 71
Online news and opinion: 73
Energy utilities: 72
Life insurance: 78
Property and casualty insurance: 78
Health insurance: 73
Online investment: 78
Credit unions: 76
Financial advisors: 79
Public administration: 62.6
Local government: 62.1
Waste management: 73
Nonhospital care: 73
Outpatient care: 77
Inpatient care: 74
Emergency room: 66
Household appliances: 79
Personal computers: 79
Soft drinks: 81
Personal care: 79
Athletic shoes: 81
Fast food restaurants: 76
Full-service restaurants: 80
Gas stations: 65
Specialty retailers: 79
General merchandise retailers: 75
Online retailers: 80
Cell phones: 72
Computer software: 78
Wireless phone service: 74
Subscription TV service: 69
Video streaming service: 77
Internet service providers: 68
Car rentals: 76
Online travel agencies: 74
How to improve your CSAT score
Unless your CSAT score sits at 100 percent, there’s room for improvement. To achieve a better score, try out one of the following tactics to create change and impress customers.
Invest in agent training and tools
The quality of support you provide significantly impacts customer satisfaction.
But before your agents can create memorable and positive customer experiences, you must prepare them with training, onboarding, and frictionless customer service software.
If you have already upgraded to a powerful CX system like Zendesk, you still need to train your team to use it effectively. Some ways you can help create a positive employee experience (EX) as your team adjusts to new software are through:
- Internal help desks
- Self-service articles
- Team-wide training
Whatever you choose, avoid dropping new software in your team’s lap without supplying education. Otherwise, any improvements you make will be purely cosmetic, and the same issues will continue to arise.
Be transparent about wait times
Placing customers on hold is inevitable, and while agents can multitask when messaging, chat queues can get backed up, too.
Even with the help of time-saving tools like Zendesk AI, support agents need time to answer questions, consult with their team, and, in some cases, gather more contextual information.
To keep customer frustrations to a minimum, be clear about wait times with your customers and offer support alternatives like texts or callbacks. A chatbot can also answer common questions or direct customers to self-service resources. In addition to reducing wait times for customers, this also benefits agents by lightening their workload.
When communicating digitally, you can do this by providing real-time, automated time estimates. Or, if you need to give callers a wait time estimate, your IVR (interactive voice response) can provide wait time estimates at regular intervals.
When providing time estimates, avoid being overly optimistic and reassure callers that you’re working as quickly as you can.
Offer self-service opportunities
Our Customer Experience Trends Report 2023 revealed that 37 percent of customers become angry when they don’t have access to self-service resources or can’t resolve a simple issue on their own.
Improve customer experiences by offering more knowledge base resources, which make it easy and convenient for customers to problem solve any issues or answer any queries on their own. And since help centers are available around the clock, customers can get the information they need at any time.
Plus, self-service options benefit agents because it lightens their workload and frees up their time, so they can focus on more complex tasks.
CSAT score FAQ
CSAT surveys provide a must-see snapshot of current customer sentiment. Learn more about when you should measure customer satisfaction and additional methods of collecting CX insights below.
When should you measure CSAT?
You can measure customer satisfaction scores after any interaction or “customer lifecycle moment.” But for organizations that want to refine their approach, these are some events that may warrant a customer survey:
- When a customer makes a purchase
- After a customer service interaction or a sale
- Upon completion of the onboarding process
- After using a help center resource
Businesses can also survey consumers during the customer journey (sales process). Many companies do this after a sale, but a customer satisfaction survey can be completed after each stage in the customer journey.
- Discovery: When a customer first learns about your brand
- Evaluation: When a customer becomes interested in your brand and considers making a purchase
- Purchase: When a customer buys your product or service
- Experience: When a customer engages with their purchase
- Retention: When a customer makes a repeat purchase
It’s always best to survey customers when an experience is fresh in their minds, so consider automating CSAT surveys by setting up triggers that go off when an interaction like agent support, a purchase, or onboarding occurs.
What are the pros and cons of CSAT scores?
Calculating CSAT scores benefits all companies because it gives business leaders insight into any issues that may require attention. Some advantages of CSAT surveys are:
- Brevity: Many surveys are one question and users can submit their responses in two clicks.
- Higher response rate: Thanks to how brief these surveys are, as well as the human desire to share experiences, CSAT surveys often receive more submissions.
- Valuable feedback: CSAT surveys simplify finding trends, allowing businesses to catch problems early before customers churn or tell others about a negative experience.
There are no true disadvantages to measuring customer satisfaction, but businesses do need to be conscientious of factors that can sway survey results like:
- Cultural bias: Respondents from individualistic cultures, like the United States, Germany, and Australia, are more likely to select extreme ratings like one or five. Meanwhile, people from collectivist countries, like Brazil, China, and Mexico, tend to lean towards neutral answers.
- Non-response: It can be difficult to convince customers to fill out a CSAT survey, which can lead to a couple of issues—either you won’t have enough data, or responses don’t accurately reflect your customers because only certain demographics are participating.
- Unclear results: Since these CSAT surveys use a scale to measure customer opinions, you can gauge emotions, but it can be difficult to make meaningful changes without context.
How are CSAT scores different from NPS and CES?
CSAT, CES, and NPS are the most commonly used customer satisfaction metrics because they’re straightforward and offer actionable insights.
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT) measures a customer’s satisfaction with your company, service, or product. CSAT scores can provide helpful insights into specific aspects of the customer experience, and it’s useful for any type of customer interaction.
Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how easy it is for a customer to use your product or get answers. Like CSAT, CES is measured using a Likert scale. It asks customers to rate the ease of their interaction on a scale of “very easy” to “very difficult.”
Teams can also focus the question on certain tasks, such as communicating with support agents, purchasing or returning products, or leaving reviews.
CES makes it easy to spot weaknesses during support interactions or within a product. It can predict future buying behavior, show where to make business improvements, and be a good indicator of customer loyalty and brand advocacy.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures a customer’s overall perception of your brand (not their impression of a particular interaction or purchase). Businesses typically use this metric to assess how likely a customer is to refer others.
An NPS survey typically asks, “How likely are you to recommend us to someone you know?” Customers rate their likelihood on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being “very likely” to recommend. NPS tends to receive a higher response rate than other metrics.
It’s helpful for assessing the quality of your product or service, customer support, and customer experience. Companies also consider NPS a “growth indicator” because it gives leadership teams an idea of how likely it is for a customer to recommend their business to others.
While each KPI has its advantages, they are most useful to businesses that compare data to contextualize responses, providing a well-rounded view of customers’ feelings about—and interactions with—the company.
Let your customers tell you what they want
Create a customer-centric organization by asking for consumer feedback often and implementing it whenever possible. Businesses should use customer service platforms like Zendesk to calculate CSAT scores and make data-driven decisions that improve the overall customer experience.
This seemingly minor pivot can yield insights that increase sales, reduce customer churn, and may even save your company money on operational costs.