CSAT, NPS, CES And Beyond: How to Measure Customer Satisfaction and Customer Success

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CSAT, NPS, CES And Beyond: Turning Customer Experience into Customer Success

When you’re aiming to create a stellar customer experience, it’s no secret that you need to get quantitative. What you may not know is that there’s more than one channel you can use to gather customer feedback.

Getting quantitative goes way beyond a simple customer satisfaction survey; there are a handful of metrics you can use to objectively assess how your customers felt during their interaction with your support system through survey data.

In this post, we’ll explain the different customer feedback measures and how you can interpret those measures to improve your customer experience and decrease churn.

Making the most out of these customer feedback tools requires a tectonic change in the way your company views customer experience — simply satisfying your customer in a reactionary way won’t increase your revenue.

To turn great customer experience into revenue, you’ll need to aim for customer success.

Customer Satisfaction Versus Customer Success

Everyone is familiar with the traditional factors that lead to a higher customer satisfaction score:

  • Fast response rates
  • High issue resolution speed and efficacy
  • High level of first-call resolution

Similarly, the effects of high customer satisfaction contain no surprises:

  • Low churn
  • More repeat business
  • Higher customer loyalty and lifetime value

But there’s a lot more to building the best possible customer experience than simply resolving issues. The concept of customer satisfaction is reactive. It’s your company responding to the customer’s needs — even if your support team resolves it quickly, your customer was in a state of need.

If your customer is in a state of need, this indicates that there’s room for improvement in your customer experience. Once you’ve resolved your customer’s needs, there’s still room to improve. That next level of improvement is called customer success.

Understanding Customer Success

Customer success is a different concept from customer satisfaction.

Success with a customer is not a metric so much as an ideal to aspire towards in your customer relationships.

When you’ve achieved customer success, you’ve created a satisfied customer, because you have resolved issues before they occurred. Customer success is the process of understanding how to satisfy your customers support needs before they reach out for help in the first place.

In comparison to creating customer satisfaction, creating customer success:

  • Is proactive rather than reactive
  • Preemptively addresses the customer’s needs
  • Increases the lifetime expected revenue of each customer
  • Forges stronger and longer relationships with customers
  • Has a higher chance of creating a customer advocate out of a customer

Compared to customer support, your relationship with your customer in the paradigm of customer success is redefined; you are actively seeking ways to give your customer a one-up over their competition rather than passively waiting for your customer to come to you for help.

Customer success is the path to higher revenues and higher customer retention, with one director estimating that customer success was responsible for 90% of long term revenues.

If you’re going to aim for customer success, you’re going to need to employ strategies to collect detailed customer feedback, measure customer satisfaction, and provide an abundance of actionable information to improve your customer experience.

How Can My Company Reach Customer Success By Measuring Customer Satisfaction?

There are a few quantitative metrics for measuring customer satisfaction that are generally agreed upon as valid measures.

These measures are:

  • CSAT
  • NPS
  • CES

We’ll discuss each in turn, starting with CSAT, which is the simplest method.

CSAT – Customer Satisfaction Surveys

The CSAT Score is the value derived from customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT).

The gist of CSAT is that after a customer receives support, they take a survey that asks questions like “How satisfied are you with this customer support experience?” after which the customer can answer from 1 (irate) to 5 (very satisfied).

Customers answer customer satisfaction surveys after they’ve had an interaction with your customer support team, meaning this metric has the opportunity to provide extremely specific customer feedback. It’s up to you to decide what questions to ask, what rating scale to use, and how much of your customer’s time you’re willing to use after you’ve solved their support issue in these types of customer surveys.

 

Once you have a large enough data set of CSAT results from customer feedback you’ve received, you can simply average the values of the CSAT scores to see how your support is performing relative to that issue.

You can also use CSAT to measure customer satisfaction in:

  • Their onboarding process
  • Your product
  • Your website’s ease of navigation
  • The resources provided by your sales team

The trick to gathering good survey data from your CSAT scores is that they are extremely dependent on the way that you word your questions.

Though there are standardized CSAT surveys that can be applied across many businesses, your company will get the most customer success if you are laser-focused with your CSAT questions and provide your customers with enough options to express their level of satisfaction.

Pros:

  • Most common method
  • Can iterate on number of customer surveys so that every touchpoint can be surveyed
  • Can provide very specific real-time feedback about where your strengths and weaknesses as a customer-centric company are

Cons:

  • Requires careful phrasing of survey questions
  • Standardized CSAT surveys may not yield helpful information
  • Requires customer to agree to prolonging the length of their interaction

NPS – Net Promoter Scores

NPS stands for the “Net Promoter Score,” and the entire metric consists of customers’ numerical answer to one simple question: “How likely are you to recommend this service to a friend?”

NPS is typically surveyed immediately after a customer interaction and broadly measures the loyalty of the customer to the product.

NPS is measured on a scale of 0 to 10, which means that NPS values are perfectly comparable between companies.

If a user checks off “10” on their NPS, it’s an extremely strong signal of customer loyalty. If you track customer data, you also get a very clear picture of who your most satisfied customers are—as well as potential detractors that you need to get ahead of as quickly as possible.

You can use NPS in any context that you would use CSAT, but because of how quick and easy NPS can be to measure, it’s safer and less intrusive to your customer to administer NPS more frequently.

Interpreting NPS data is a matter of debate, with some companies considering any score lower than a 9 or 10 to be customers in need of a better experience.

For customer success, this interpretation makes sense; customers who report low NPS scores are customers that your customer experience or product is failing, and measuring their NPS lets your company take action to get back on their good side.

This brings up one of the weaknesses of NPS; it’s much more effective in B2C contexts than in B2B because there are generally more B2C customer interactions during the buying cycle.

Nonetheless, maximizing your NPS is critical to maximizing the new revenue that your current customers will bring by recommending you to their peers. Some claim that the NPS score explains between 20% to 60% of company growth rates within an industry.

Pros:

  • Uses very little customer time so it can be deployed everywhere
  • High predictive value of which customers are likely to bring you more customers
  • Gives clear picture of which unsatisfied customers need to have their issues addressed

Cons:

  • Can’t provide any data beyond which customers are likely to suggest your company to others
  • Works better with more data, meaning that it works better in a B2C context
  • Most effective in small niches with few high impact individuals

CES – Customer Effort Score

Rounding out the customer satisfaction metrics is the Customer Effort Score (CES).

A CES survey, like NPS, is one simple question posed to your customers after an interaction: “how easy was it for you to resolve your issue?” Like NPS, CES only requires that your customer provide a numerical response.

A CES survey is measured on a scale of 1 (very hard) to 7 (extremely easy), and is referenced as 1.8x more predictive of customer loyalty than typical CSATs. The idea behind CES is similar to NPS; customers who have an easier time interacting with your company are more likely to buy from your company again.

The Customer Effort Score isn’t as common as NPS, but could be deployed in many of the same situations as NPS and CSAT.

CES may be more suited for the B2B environment than NPS, as it’s specifically focused toward issue resolution and is a better predictor of B2C customer lifetime sales value.

Remember, if you’re trying to create customer success, you want customer interactions with your support to be effortless, every time. More difficult interactions drive away customers.

Where CES might have an edge over NPS is in its ability to suss out friction points that might not be significant enough to prevent a customer from suggesting your company to others.

Furthermore, in complex cases of issue resolution, you could use CES multiple times to collect customer feedback to help you figure out exactly which steps of the issue resolution process your customers are struggling with the most. This would give your company ample opportunity to proactively fix those areas of friction, whereas a metric like NPS wouldn’t leave you with enough clues.

Pros:

  • Better predictor of loyalty of existing customers than NPS; better for B2B than B2C
  • Can provide more granular information during the customer issue resolution process than NPS or traditional CSATs
  • Just as quick to answer as NPS and interpretation is very easy

Cons:

  • Less popular metric than NPS
  • Loyalty may not be a good predictor of which customers become evangelists
  • The scale and posing of CES is not uniformly agreed upon

Surveying For Customer Success

The beauty of these three methods to measure customer satisfaction is that you can use them in conjunction or in isolation.

Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) early and often to get an idea about which customers think of you as one of their favorites; use the Customer Effort Score (CES), to find out where even your most satisfied customers think you could make their experience easier.

For general support, customer satisfaction surveys that your company comes up with on its own can provide the most granular information after customers have their issues resolved.

Using these three methods in conjunction with each other and in their proper places within your customer experience ecosystem and journey will give your company insight and an opportunity to increase customer loyalty as well as your revenue.

Building a Feedback Loop

Simply learning how to measure customer satisfaction isn’t valuable unless you actually do something useful with the survey data you’ve gathered. In order to create a system for continually optimizing and improving the customer experience, you need to build a feedback loop. This involves:

  • Gathering customer feedback, through the three types of customer satisfaction surveys listed above, as well as through collected insights from customer service chats, emails, and online reviews or complaints.
  • Learning from your data by analyzing the patterns you find. For instance, pay attention to the points of the customer journey in which customers are most likely to provide a low grade on a CES survey, and examine the usability challenges they face at those stages.
  • Applying your knowledge to provide fixes that enhance the customer experience. For example, if one common concern you hear is around slow response rates, you’ll need to either hire a larger customer support team, or look for ways to use customer service technology to enable customers to solve more problems through self-service, reducing their reliance on agent support.

When you use multiple methods to measure customer satisfaction, you can get better insights into your customer feedback and use it to implement changes that will enhance the customer journey. Boosting overall satisfaction will help you to boost customer loyalty and generate more new customer referrals through word-of-mouth from your brand advocates—so if you can help your customers go from merely satisfied to delighted, the changes you make will pay dividends many times over. 

Customer happiness is crucial to building a sustainable business that will grow organically over time. Gather survey data to help you understand where you are, and build a path to where you need to be.