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customer satisfaction

How to Measure Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is crucial to the success of your business, but how do you actually measure it?



Fri May 06 2022 • 6 min read

How to Measure Customer Satisfaction

Understanding where your customer satisfaction level is at – and tracking how it changes over time – is key to calculating the overall success of your business. Keeping a close eye on this metric can help you identify issues as they pop up, and allow you to course-correct before a slight hiccup turns into something more damaging.

More than just helping in spotting issues, collecting customer feedback consistently (and then acting on it) is a great way to be proactive about improving your products or services. A standout customer experience is an invaluable competitive advantage.

But, figuring out how to measure customer satisfaction is not as easy as it may seem. A lot of factors go into assessing it, and there is no single, best way to measure it. The good news is that there are many methods and sources you can use to reliably determine how satisfied your customers are with your business, services, or products.

Defining customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction can be defined as the emotional connection a customer has with a product or service. Stellar customer satisfaction typically leads to repeat purchases and increased revenue.

Happy customers also means high brand loyalty. That's because when a customer feels an emotional connection with a brand or product, they are less likely to stray to competitors. Plus, incredibly loyal customers can turn into brand evangelists, sharing their positive experiences through word of mouth and building your customer base for you.

Without having a way to quantify your customer satisfaction, you would have no way of knowing when your customers are satisfied and (perhaps more importantly) when they aren't.

You need a way to accurately measure your customer satisfaction. It'll help you to:

  • Understand what your customers like and dislike about your brand, product, or service
  • Find out how well your employees are serving your customers and meeting their expectations
  • Decide whether you need to change any aspects of your business or product to improve metrics

Consistently measuring customer satisfaction will generate historical data that you can use and periodically analyze to see how you are doing with your customers over time. This will allow you to compare your current performance with your past performance and make adjustments accordingly to help improve your customer experience, increasing retention and revenue.

Methods of measuring customer satisfaction

There are various ways to measure customer satisfaction. They may not all work for every circumstance, so you should select the best method based on your needs.

Here are some of the most common metrics you can use.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple but effective way to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction. Based on a single question, it asks customers how likely they are to recommend your company to friends or family members.

By calculating the percentage of promoters minus detractors, you get an NPS score that ranges from -100 to 100.

The higher the number, the better. A high NPS is a good sign that a company has a loyal customer base and that it provides great customer service.

A cautionary note on NPS surveys: According to the Wall Street Journal, they have become incredibly popular in recent years. So, customers may be fatigued with requests for NPS scores and response rates are decreasing as a result. Also, NPS surveys attempt to measure overall satisfaction with a brand rather than a customer’s satisfaction with a specific interaction. This delineation isn’t always abundantly clear to the respondent, resulting in data that may be misleading.  

Customer Satisfaction Score (CST)

A Customer Satisfaction Score (CST) is measured by asking customers how satisfied they are with your product or service on a scale from 1 to 5 or from 1 to 10. Like NPS, this method is quick and easy for customers to answer. While NPS measures a customer’s satisfaction with a brand on a holistic level, the CST is about a specific interaction.

Both CST and NPS may generate some invalid responses from people who may have more nuanced feedback to provide and don't know how to rate their satisfaction level with an exact number.

The CST is often used in company reviews, employee reviews, and surveys. It's also used by marketing departments to measure public opinion about products, services, or companies.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score (CES) measures customer satisfaction with a company’s customer service by asking one key question: How much effort did the customer have to put into getting his or her problem solved?

When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, the Customer Effort Score has several advantages:

  • Since it takes less time, customers are more likely to complete the survey
  • The single question makes it easy for customers to give feedback
  • Having only one question makes it easier for you to analyze customer data as well

In other words, CES asks customers to comment on the ease of use and convenience of your products or services. A high score means customers are not having to spend a great deal of time using your products or getting their issues resolved.

Ways to gather customer satisfaction data

In order to make any kind of informed decision about how to improve your brand experience, you need data. The methods outlined above will generate quantitative data, but you need to think through how you’ll approach your customers and encourage them to participate.

Take a look at your customer flow and identify key points in the customer journey where you can ask for customer feedback and garner these important metrics. Here’s an example process.

Step 1: Collect customer contact information

Without access to your customer, you have no way of collecting feedback. Collecting contact information is pretty standard during the checkout process, but you may have the opportunity to get customers’ phone numbers and email addresses earlier in the journey.

With a queue management system like Waitwhile, you can customize the check-in flow to capture the customer data that’s most important to you. Customers can join a virtual waitlist or book an appointment from anywhere. Once they’ve joined, you unlock an open line of 2-way communication, so you can text or email with your customer (based on their preference).

Before a service, this allows you to chat directly with your customer, and gives them direct access to you to ask questions or let you know they’re running late. After a service, you can easily solicit feedback through SMS or email by sending one of the surveys above or asking for open-ended feedback.

Step 2: Getting feedback during a visit

You may want to measure customer satisfaction during specific points in a customer’s visit rather than waiting until after the service has been completed. For example, you may want to gauge customers’ opinions about the wait time while they’re waiting. Or you may want to generate feedback about a specific step in the customer journey (e.g., getting feedback about an interaction with one employee before the customer has to interact with another staff member).

With a guest messaging platform, you can automatically send quick surveys for your customers to fill out. For example, if a customer is on a virtual waitlist, you can deploy a CST survey asking for feedback about the queuing process as their turn is coming up.

Or, let’s say a customer is moving from one service desk to another during a visit at a DMV office. In this scenario, you can automatically text a CST or CES survey asking about their experience at each service desk while it’s still fresh in their mind.

See how Hartford HealthCare uses text messaging to keep patients’ families updated.

Step 3: Measuring customer satisfaction after a visit

Most commonly, companies will want to gauge customer satisfaction after the entire interaction has wrapped. Invitations to surveys are often featured on purchase receipts, but this messaging can get buried and is easily ignored.

Instead, consider inviting customers to fill out a survey with a personalized note delivered via text message or email. A guest messaging platform like Waitwhile enables you to automate these communications based on many criteria (e.g., customer type, service type, location, timing, etc.).

Deploy a CST or CES survey in the hours or days after a service is completed. For an NPS survey, which measures overall satisfaction with your brand, you may want to delay deploying an NPS survey for weeks or even months after a purchase was made to give the customer more time to fully immerse themselves in your brand or product.

To collect NPS data that’s valid and reliable, you may also want to only include a subset of your customers. For example, you may want to contact just the customers who’ve had a meaningful interaction with your brand.

With a reliable method or tool for tracking customer activity, you can accurately and automatically identify customers who are good candidates for a survey.

Case study
See how Hawaii’s iconic dining institution Zippy’s used Waitwhile to achieve a 95% customer satisfaction rate.

Why customer satisfaction matters

While the concept of customer satisfaction seems simple enough, collecting and organizing data is perhaps a more difficult task than you might initially think. Ultimately, it comes down to developing a reliable and consistent method of gathering data from your customers — and assessing their responses in an unbiased manner.

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