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CSAT: Definition, Calculation & 2022 Benchmarks

CSAT: Definition, Calculation & 2022 Benchmarks

Being exposed to negative word-of-mouth or having clients leave due to unpleasant interactions are experiences no business would want to lose control over. 

But how do you prevent situations like that from getting out of hand? By keeping track of customer satisfaction throughout the customer journey to see when you need to address complaints and implement feedback to keep them satisfied. 

One of the best ways to do that is by tracking customer satisfaction metrics. There are some options to choose from (NPS, CES, and CSAT), and – in this article – we’ll be taking an in-depth look at CSAT. So, what is CSAT?

CSAT Meaning

CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) is a survey methodology used to measure a customer’s satisfaction with a business, product, or service. 

The CSAT question format is usually something along the lines of “How satisfied were you with your experience/our product/service today?”. Customers can offer a CSAT rating on a 1-5, 1-7 or 1-10 range, on a “Very Satisfied-Very Dissatisfied” scale or show their satisfaction/dissatisfaction through other CSAT metrics (like stars for example). 

Example of CSAT survey
Example of CSAT survey

How to Calculate CSAT?

There really isn’t a universal approach to measuring the customer satisfaction score (CSAT). You can actually implement a measurement process that works best for your business. If you’re low on ideas, though, here are the 3 most common ways CSAT scores are measured:

1. Calculate the Average CSAT Score

If your surveys use numeric ratings, you can just do an average based on all the scores you got. The CSAT formula in this case is to add up all the scores and divide that sum by the number of respondents. Afterward, multiply the result by 10, and you’ve got your CSAT score percentage.

CSAT calculation formula
CSAT calculation formula

Here’s an example – let’s say your CSAT survey had 20 respondents, and the sum of all their scores is 100, that means you have a 50% CSAT score

A simpler way to calculate an average customer satisfaction score is to just take the number of “Very Satisfied/Satisfied” results, divide it by the number of total respondents, and then multiply it by 100. Following up on the example above, if you had 20 respondents, and 10 responses were “Very Satisfied/Satisfied,” you’d have a 50% CSAT score (0,5 times 100).

CSAT score calculation
CSAT score calculation

2. Use Happy-Neutral-Unhappy Ratings

It’s pretty simple – just have a Happy/Neutral/Unhappy face as a response option. Color them accordingly (Red – Unhappy, Green – Happy, Yellow/Gray – Neutral), and your respondents will have an easy time giving an answer.

While this rating isn’t the most nuanced and in-depth, it is pretty useful if you’re just looking for a quick way to check satisfaction levels. The CSAT score calculation is pretty simple – just check the number/percentage of Happy emoticons. 

Also, this kind of rating can be pretty useful if you’re worried that cultural bias might negatively impact your customer satisfaction score (if you want to know more about it, check out the CSAT Cons section below).

3. Use 5-Star Ratings

The 5-star survey – having a star rating system applied – is another type of visual feedback you can use if you’re looking for a quick, convenient way to analyze CSAT results data. An easy way to calculate the CSAT score, in this case, is to see what percentage of 5-star ratings you have. 

Plus, consumers will likely be very familiar with it since it’s also employed by industry giants like Amazon.

What Is a Good CSAT Score?

Despite the different rating systems, CSAT scores are usually calculated on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. Obviously, a 100% score means you are enjoying complete customer satisfaction levels.

While a 100% score is the goal, you’re not always guaranteed to see it. So while you should aim for it, any score that’s over 50% (ideally 60% or 70%) should be a good sign since it means that over half of the customers or responders are satisfied.

According to our experience, a perfect score of 100% is generally attained by companies with less CSAT feedback, and the score gets balanced as soon as more CSAT data floods in.

To have a better CSAT overview in terms of score, we’ve decided to turn to customer data for more insights. The results displayed by the Retently CSAT benchmarks show that a score between 65% to 80% is a dominant value across industries.

Retently 2022 CSAT Benchmarks
Retently 2022 CSAT Benchmarks

Thus, we’ve got the Consulting industry leading the CSAT benchmarks with an impressive score of 85. Healthcare and Ecommerce & Retail industries enjoy a great CSAT score of 79 and 74 respectively. 

Due to the pandemic, the Healthcare industry has drawn a lot of attention to customer satisfaction, which translated into improved values granted by their customers. Ecommerce & Retail has experienced a good boost in their scores as well, given the fact that COVID limitations have turned customer attention to the online, challenging the industry to keep up with customer expectations and a bigger demand.  

Such industries as Digital Marketing Agency and B2B Software & SaaS are confidently approaching their peers with a CSAT score in the high 60s.

Communication & Media is unfortunately placed at the other end of the scale with a CSAT score of 16. This is also the case when it comes to the NPS benchmarks for the respective industry.

Although industry benchmarking is useful for drawing some conclusions as to your own CSAT score, it is important to remember that every business is unique and there are a lot of factors to take into account (methodology, size of the survey sample, etc). 

Yet, while digging into the available data, we came up with this interpretation of the CSAT score and the value to aim for: 

What is a good CSAT score?
What is a good CSAT score?

Hence, a score below 50 speaks of poor customer satisfaction that needs immediate action. Since almost half of the customers are not satisfied with the quality of the service or product, there is definitely room for a lot of improvements. 

Companies in the 50 to 70 CSAT score range are in the safe realm as most of their customers are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. These customers are not at risk to churn nor are very happy about their experience. While we don’t need to settle for a satisfactory result, it is a clear sign of a good perspective if a proactive approach toward customer engagement is adopted.

A CSAT scoring between 70 to 90 seems to be a great place to be in. This is the average value range across industries, speaking of healthy customer engagement and delivery of great service. A CSAT score over 90 – well, is an excellent result every company should aspire to, accounting for exemplary customer service standards and impressive customer satisfaction levels.

Companies preferring the popular 1-5 CSAT rating may find this approach to CSAT score meaning more accurate, setting the 65 to 80 range as a good one:

  • 0-35       very bad/highly unsatisfied
  • 35-50     poor/unsatisfied
  • 50-65     average/quite satisfied
  • 65-80     good/satisfied
  • 80-100   excellent/highly satisfied

How to design an effective CSAT survey?

To get an accurate customer satisfaction score (CSAT), you must enjoy good survey response rates. Here are the main tips to consider for building efficient CSAT surveys:

1. Keep It Simple

According to SurveyMonkey’s research, a responder will spend an average of 75 seconds on a question – if the survey has only 1 question, that is. If your survey has anywhere between 3-10 questions, the time goes down to 30 seconds per question. 

Whether you plan on including just 1 or multiple questions in your CSAT survey, make sure you make them as clear and straightforward as possible. Don’t use complicated words, technical jargon, or long sentence structures.

2. Ask Targeted Questions

There is a general tendency for respondents of long questionnaires to give identical answers (the straight-line response pattern) to most or all of the survey items as compared to those responding to shorter surveys.

In order to capture relevant CSAT data, be sure to limit the number of questions and focus on addressing the right ones. Map the critical touchpoints, set clear objectives and hence build relevant CSAT questions that could lead to the desired outcome.

3. Keep Ratings on the Same CSAT Scale

Although CSAT is quite flexible offering different semantic, numerical or graphic values to choose from for a rating, sticking to the same approach across the CSAT survey would make it more efficient (especially if you go for a longer template). Keeping the CSAT rating within the same scale would make the survey less confusing and easier to interact with, resulting in more accurate data. 

4. Include a N/A Option

Ideally, you should plan your survey in such a way as to ensure there is no irrelevant CSAT question. However, having an “I don’t know” option is still an important safety measure, since there’s always a chance some clients just might not find particular questions relevant. 

If you don’t do that, you’ll basically be forcing customers to answer unrelated questions, meaning you won’t get useful CSAT feedback.

5. Don’t Make Text Fields Mandatory

While text fields can be a great source of insightful CSAT data and feedback, making them mandatory will backfire. 

It’s pretty obvious why – if they’re optional, really passionate customers will take the time to offer valuable suggestions. But if they’re mandatory, you’ll likely have annoyed clients filling them out with information that isn’t helpful. What’s worse, if they’re already unhappy, a mandatory text field might make them even more upset with your brand.

Pointers for an effective CSAT survey
Pointers for an effective CSAT survey

When Is the Right Time to Send a CSAT Question?

Timing your surveys is always important. Since the CSAT survey focuses on isolated interactions across the customer journey, the customer experience must be fresh in mind to give your company relevant feedback. 

Depending on the nature of the interaction, you can choose the most appropriate distribution channel for your CSAT survey: email, in-app, SMS, or via link (survey kiosks are also an option). According to our research, these are the best moments to send a CSAT survey to your customers:

1. After Customer Support/Customer Service interactions

CSAT was developed to measure the quality of service and hence track the performance of individual teams. CSAT surveys are thus often used for assessing such aspects as quality of communication, expertise, speed, the efficiency of issue resolution, or the overall experience based on the latest interaction.

Example of CSAT survey after customer support interaction
Example of CSAT survey after customer support interaction

They are triggered to gauge customer sentiment in relation to the received service. These CSAT survey questions look into how the customer perceives the event or the support agent – not the overall perception or loyalty. 

These are some of the most appropriate moments to send CSAT questionnaires since they give you insights regarding whether or not you need to improve the customer engagement experience.

2. Before a Renewal

Sending a CSAT survey by email a few months before a customer decides whether or not to renew their service is a smart move because it gives you enough time to implement any important feedback that might make it more likely for existing clients to renew their subscription. 

If your business doesn’t work on a subscription model but a retail/product one, you could send CSAT surveys a few months prior to announcing a new product or every few months/every month to re-ignite a client’s desire to make another purchase.

3. After a Product Feature Release

A CSAT survey can be shared after a product update to gain insights into how well your customers have adopted the feature changes. For more targeted feedback conduct in-app CSAT surveys as users get the chance to test out the additions and report any possible issues or frustrations as they arise.

4. At Key Customer Lifecycle Touchpoints

You can tie CSAT surveys to any key moments (depending on the specifics of the industry you are in) within the customer lifecycle to see what changes you need to make to optimize the conversion process and boost retention rates.

For instance, you could send a CSAT survey after the onboarding process to see if there are any changes you can implement to make the process more straightforward, engaging, and intuitive.

Or you could trigger a CSAT survey after a purchase was completed or after the delivery of the respective items to help you assess your after-sale performance.

Example of CSAT survey after purchase
Example of CSAT survey after purchase

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using CSAT

CSAT surveys can be versatile tools, but – sadly – their disadvantages outweigh their advantages. Let’s have a quick look at its pros and cons for a better CSAT overview:

CSAT Pros

One of the main advantages of CSAT surveys is that they’re intuitive and very straightforward – they’re easy to set up, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort on your respondents’ part. 

They’re also quite flexible since you can customize the rating system to better resonate with your audience, and make it more relevant for the context. 

Besides that, CSAT lets you tweak the format (from a simple one to a more complex version) to make it more engaging. Also, CSAT surveys tend to get a pretty decent response rate because they don’t usually feature a lot of questions.

CSAT Cons

One of the main problems with CSAT surveys is data ambiguity. CSAT customer satisfaction data that are benchmarked across various industries can vary a lot, and that might make it a bit hard to determine what is a good or bad CSAT score for your own industry. 

Plus, benchmarking said data against competitors and communicating results to stakeholders might be difficult if you rely on an established survey company to handle the process for you since they might have a different scoring method that might not be 100% relevant to your business context.

CSAT results might also be skewed if some respondents who’d normally answer with a neutral response don’t fill out the survey. 

What’s more, according to research findings, the CSAT customer satisfaction score can be influenced by cultural bias. Basically, if your audience is split between individualistic and collectivist countries, respondents might offer different ratings for the same experience. It seems that there is a clear tendency for collectivists to give responses that make the self look good, therefore they offer a more tame rating (“Satisfied/Not Satisfied”). Individualists, on the other hand, are not hesitant to go for more extreme ratings (“Very Satisfied/Very Dissatisfied”). 

Lastly, the word “satisfaction” is subjective, and it means different things to different people. And consider this – when a customer gives a “Very Satisfied” rating, does that mean they are very happy with your whole brand, or that they were satisfied with one of its aspects? 

Don’t forget – satisfaction isn’t the same as loyalty, which is actually what makes customers love your brand and turn into word-of-mouth marketers for your products.

That’s not to say your CSAT score will necessarily take a hit because of that, but it’s worth noting that it can have an influence on it. 

CSAT: Pros and Cons
CSAT: Pros and Cons

Can You Predict Total Sales with Customer Satisfaction Score

This is a tricky question, mostly because you can’t really use CSAT to efficiently predict business growth. Why? Because of these 2 issues: 

  1. CSAT surveys reflect short-term sentiment. The answer a customer gives is often based on how they were feeling on that specific day, and on their last interaction with your brand – not their overall experience. 
  2. Like we already said, satisfaction doesn’t always equal loyalty. Just because a customer says they are “Very Satisfied” with your checkout process or customer support doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t jump ship to another brand if they get a better deal. As weird as it sounds, rating a service as “satisfactory” isn’t the same as calling it “amazing” or “excellent,” since “satisfactory” is more of a neutral word. 

Unfortunately, just asking clients how satisfied they are with an aspect of your service/product/brand isn’t going to give you enough data to predict growth. 

Bottom line 

There are many ways you can go wrong when putting together and delivering a customer satisfaction survey that can distort the picture of your customer experience. We have sliced and diced CSAT to give you an understanding of how it can be properly used to bring in meaningful changes to your brand. 

Whether you consider CSAT sufficient for your business goals or you opt for a combined approach to customer satisfaction metrics, one thing remains unaltered: customer satisfaction surveys are an extremely valuable source of actionable insights on the delivered customer experience. 

If you’re ready to put your customers first and tap into customer needs, it’s time to put this information into action. Build your CSAT survey in minutes and start collecting transactional data in a free 7-day trial.

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