Customer Loyalty

What Is CSAT and Why Does It Matter for Modern Brands?

Aaron Sullivan
May 17, 2023

In 2022, customer intelligence platform Invoca learned that as many as 76% of consumers were willing to switch brands after just one bad experience. With so many hard-won customers at stake, brands can’t afford to neglect their customer satisfaction score (CSAT).

The CSAT metric can sound the alarm when aspects of your ecommerce experience aren’t meeting customer expectations. For some customers, that one bad experience might be shipping options that appear too late in the checkout process. For others, it can be a product that doesn’t work as advertised.

CSAT may be a legacy metric, but it’s still powerful if you know how to use it properly. Keep reading to learn what CSAT is — and isn’t — and how to use it to prevent customer churn.

What is a customer satisfaction score (CSAT)?

CSAT is a measure of customers’ satisfaction with a company’s product or another aspect of their brand experience, like support.

Brands gather customer feedback using online CSAT surveys sent via a website popup, chatbot, SMS message, email, or social media.

Customer satisfaction surveys often start with a single question: “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with our [specific product/service/experience]?” Customers answer the question on a rating scale of 1 to 10. An answer of 1 means the respondent is “extremely dissatisfied,” while 10 means “extremely satisfied.”

Survey tools will also let you add an open-ended question, so customers can elaborate on their closed-ended rating. Suppose your closed-ended survey question is, “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the checkout experience?” The open-ended question might be, “Please explain what you liked or disliked about the checkout experience.”

How to measure CSAT

Once you’ve collected CSAT feedback, calculate the overall satisfaction score by dividing the total number of responses by the number of positive responses (answers of 7 to 10 on a 10-point scale). Multiply that number by 100, and you’ll know the percentage of customers that are satisfied with the product, service, or experience you want to analyze.

Some advanced survey tools can also help you gauge the open-ended responses through customer sentiment analysis. The tool skims the open-ended responses for emotional phrases, like “frustrated,” and keywords about your brand experience, like “shipping.” From there, it compares these keyword mentions to the 1 to 10 ratings. If most of the negative responses revolve around “shipping,” then you know what needs to be improved.

Why are CSAT scores still important?

CSAT helps evaluate the customer experience — a key to boosting revenue. If 61% of consumers are willing to pay at least 5% more for an outstanding customer experience, then the importance of CSAT to modern brands is tough to ignore.

But its value doesn’t stop there. CSAT insights also help personalize customer communications and attract new business.

Gather customer insights across your brand experience

Many brands send CSAT surveys after customers have had time to use your product or service, but that’s just one use case. You can also trigger CSAT surveys after a customer completes a specific interaction with your brand.

Maybe you have a high percentage of customers who search for products without adding anything to their shopping carts. CSAT can help you evaluate ecommerce product searches.

If a customer looks at three different products without adding them to their cart, trigger a popup with the question, “How would you rate your satisfaction with our product search feature?” 

High CSAT score responses mean there might be another reason why customers aren’t buying. Maybe your prices are too high. Program another CSAT survey to answer this question.

Create specific customer segments

With CSAT results, you can segment customers in your CRM according to their satisfaction levels. Use this information to program marketing campaigns that keep happy customers satisfied and re-engage the unhappy ones.

When you learn that a customer is unhappy with some aspect of their experience, follow up to prevent churn. Send a customer with negative product feedback a promo code they can redeem on their next purchase. Include an explanation of how you plan to address their feedback in the message.

Customers with positive product feedback could get an invitation to join your loyalty program. Now they have an additional incentive to keep buying from you — more purchases equal more benefits.

Build social proof with positive CSAT scores

Good CSAT scores are marketing assets. Include them in product reviews to boost consumer confidence in your brand and drive sales.

According to a 2021 study from PowerReviews, 98% of online shoppers feel that customer reviews are an “essential resource when making purchase decisions.” That’s up from 89% in 2018.

If you recently sent a CSAT survey asking customers to evaluate a product or service, stick the high overall scores on that item’s product page. Include answers to open-ended questions to boost the scores’ credibility, too.

Establish a competitive benchmark for your business

Because CSAT is an established metric in several industries, use it to compare your customer satisfaction levels with your competitors’. 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) conducts its own CSAT surveys across industries ranging from banking to ecommerce. Access these scores to see how your ratings measure up. If your scores are trending below the industry average, then it’s likely your customer retention levels are, too.

When should you send CSAT surveys?

The short answer: it depends on the topic of your survey.

Send CSAT surveys when customers are most ready to provide input. Don’t send the survey before a customer has had time to use the product or a week after a customer interacts with your website’s product recommendation engine.

Good timing will help you get enough responses to have a reliable sample size. If you have thousands of customers or daily website visitors, you need a certain sample size to make your CSAT feedback statistically significant. 

Say you have 5,000 customers, and you want to be 90% sure that your CSAT scores reflect their feelings. Based on this sample-size calculator, 259 customers need to respond for the survey to be statistically relevant. 

After a purchase

Evaluate a customer’s satisfaction with your product by sending a product-related CSAT survey a day or two after the product arrives. You can even sync the timing of the survey with the customer’s chosen shipping speed using an integration like Delighted, which works between ecommerce platforms and CSAT survey tools. 

If the customer buys the same product again, send a CSAT survey that focuses on the quality of the product tracking information or packaging. Boost response rates by including a small incentive for completing the survey, like a free sample with their next order or a small discount.

After customer support interactions

Send a CSAT survey as soon as a customer completes a support interaction while their memory is fresh. Use the channel the customer used to contact support to send the survey in a convenient way.

The CSAT survey can help you assess agent empathy, how speedily the issue was resolved, and the effectiveness of self-help resources. Suppose a customer scrolls to the bottom of a support document. Use that condition as the trigger for a CSAT survey that asks how well the document solved the customer’s issue. 

After using a third-party service

Use CSAT surveys to evaluate any third-party add-ons in your customer experience, like Extend product protection and Yotpo paid loyalty programs.

In the case of product protection, trigger a CSAT survey when a customer files a claim. The question might be, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied were you with the speed of the claim experience?”

When a customer submits a product protection request, they might be unhappy because they need to replace or fix a product that suffered accidental damage, and the traditional process can be long and arduous. If, however, the claims process is quick and seamless through a modern provider like Extend, you can offset their unhappiness and give them a reason to stick with your brand.

Analyze CSAT scores alongside other business metrics

CSAT measures customers’ satisfaction with specific elements of their ecommerce experience. But with so many possible elements to evaluate, how do you know if your CSAT scores are giving you a full picture of your customers? 

The answer is to use CSAT in combination with other business metrics — particularly net promoter score (NPS) and customer lifetime value (CLV).

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Like CSAT, NPS surveys present a closed-ended question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [your business] to a friend?” You can also pair this question with an open-ended question like, “What aspects of our brand make you want/not want to recommend it?”

The survey is a great way to get a high-level sense of customer loyalty, but it doesn’t tell you much about granular issues. Use CSAT to investigate what might be leading to your NPS trends. 

Say your NPS score skewed low last quarter, and your survey tool’s sentiment analysis indicated that support was a common source of frustration. You could then send CSAT surveys to assess agent empathy or speed. 

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value is a revenue metric that gauges the level of spend you can expect from a shopper during their customer lifecycle.

A drop in CLV from one quarter to the next is a clear signal you need to add a new revenue stream and/or refine the customer experience. CSAT helps gauge the success of these efforts.

Say you decide to add a paid loyalty program, which requires customers to spend a minimum amount of money to unlock premium benefits. If the new program doesn’t boost revenue as you’d hoped, you suspect the problem might not be the program as a whole but an aspect of the program. After sending a CSAT survey asking customers to evaluate the premium benefits, you learn customers don’t find the program’s benefits attractive enough to spend the minimum amount. 

Without CSAT, you might have been tempted to scrap the entire program.

Enhance the customer journey with CSAT

The post-purchase experience is as much a part of the customer journey as the invitation to join your mailing list. Each element plays a role in building customer loyalty, and CSAT surveys help keep you on track.

To learn more about crafting the best CSAT questions for your brand, click here. And to see how Extend Product Protection boosts customer satisfaction, click here to schedule a demo.

Aaron Sullivan
Aaron Sullivan is senior content marketing manager at Extend. He specializes in writing about e-commerce, finance, entertainment, and beer.

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