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An Introduction to the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures a customer's happiness with a brand, product, or service interaction. The metric is the oldest and most standardized customer sentiment measurement and may be deployed in a variety of ways.

CSAT's history is long. Edward A. Duddy and David A. Revzan's 1947's "Marketing, an Institutional Approach" is typically acknowledged as first mentioning customer satisfaction as something for organizations to monitor. The development of consumer behavior models in the late 1960's and early 1970's tied the importance of satisfaction to the consumer's purchase activity which laid the foundation for Dr. Ralph Day's landmark 1977 "A Comprehensive Study of Consumer Satisfaction with Durable Products". That study designed the methods which furnished the information essential for evaluating consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction over a comprehensive set of products and services and set the tone for everything done around CSAT today.

A trusted Customer Satisfaction Score doesn't deviate too far from Dr. Day's standards. The basic model asks customers "How satisfied were you with the [product/interaction]?" Customers are provided with a five-point point scale with 1 being the highest level of satisfaction and 5 being the lowest level. The survey itself is very straightforward and will look like:

To calculate your CSAT score, divide all the positive responses by the total number of responses and multiply by 100. The math looks like this:

CSAT should not be used as your sole customer loyalty metric nor viewed as a replacement for your Customer Effort Score (CES) or Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customer Effort Score watches how hard it was for your customers to achieve value with their most recent interaction. NPS focuses on customer loyalty through their willingness to promote your brand. CSAT monitors the customer's perception of the overall outcome of an engagement with you. All are correlated with better predicting customer retention and company performance but achieve it through very different lenses.

Understanding when and where to deploy your customer success metrics will be key to assuring you and your customer's success. The most important item above all is you are proactively seeking your customer's input, asking them appropriate questions, listening effectively to their responses, and acting on them accordingly.

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