Everything CX Leaders Need to Know about Customer Satisfaction Metrics

Customer service leaders have a lot of metrics to track and interpret, with customer satisfaction data as some of the most important — and often underutilized. Satisfaction metrics aren’t just for evaluating the efficacy of your support agents; they also correlate strongly to customer lifetime value and loyalty, and can provide valuable insight to teams throughout your organization.

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions our CX team receives about customer satisfaction metrics. Use this guide as a quick reference point for CSAT, CES, NPS, and sentiment analysis.

What are the most common customer satisfaction metrics?

There are four core ways that customer service leaders track satisfaction:

  1. NPS
  2. CSAT
  3. CES
  4. Sentiment

Here’s a quick (and simplistic) way to think of them: NPS is a measure of loyalty, CES is a measure of effort, CSAT is a measure of satisfaction, and sentiment is a measure of emotion. Finding the right metrics for your customer service operation requires setting a clear purpose for the reporting. The metrics, questions, and frequency you select should align to high-level goals (e.g., do you primarily want to track brand loyalty, improve resolution time, provide product feedback, or monitor agent effectiveness?)

Quick Guide to CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score)

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is most often used to measure a customer’s feelings about a specific interaction with your support team. It’s really measuring the agent interaction versus how difficult it was to accomplish something or feelings about the brand overall. For that reason, it’s typically sent immediately following an interaction with an agent.

“One of the benefits of CSAT surveys is that you can gather feedback from customers immediately after an interaction with your team. This helps you better understand customers’ experiences in real time, and can segment the results by agent, team and most importantly channel,” notes Kustomer’s Senior Product Manager John Merse. “In a true omnichannel environment it’s important to understand that each channel is unique and requires a specific communication style. For example, while you may have a 90%+ satisfaction via email, if you are not tracking chat or SMS, you might find that your communication is not as effective and your overall customer satisfaction not as high as you think.”

Relying on one overall CSAT calculation for an entire customer support operation often isn’t illustrative enough of a metric for an enterprise organization. It’s considered best in class to also be running segmentations to identify any outlier activity. For example, are you segmenting your CSAT scores by demographic or product? And how are you combining CSAT with other metrics more indicative of customer value or loyalty? Read on for more info about how these tools can be used together.

What is a good CSAT score?

The average CSAT rating is 8.4, according to provider Nicereply, who benchmark a strong CSAT average rating of 8 or higher. The ACSI also offers customer satisfaction benchmarks segmented by industry.

Quick guide to CES (Customer Effort Score)

CES is a newer metric that focuses on experiences with support, typically rating the amount of effort a customer had to go through to resolve their issue. “You can essentially think of CES as tracking the effort a customer puts into using your product or service. The more effort that is needed over time will likely erode their loyalty ,” summarizes Merse. A CES survey, for example, might ask to what extent a customer agrees with the statement X brand made it easy for me to handle my issue. This score helps measure overall effectiveness of support, as opposed to specific agent interactions.

Why should CX leaders focus on customer effort? “If you can only measure one thing, it should be effort,” says Sarah Dibble, executive advisor at Gartner (formerly CEB, which created the metric). “Our research finds that effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty.” Monitoring CES can help support team leaders uncover high-effort pain points in customer interactions — for example, a common trend is lower CES scores when support is available only on limited channels or time periods.

When are CES surveys typically sent? CES surveys are also typically sent immediately following an interaction with the support team, although the duration should be customized to meet the objectives of your team.

What is a good CES score?

Your CES scores will obviously vary depending on the question asked and scale used (e.g., 1-5 vs. smiles/frowns). According to provider Nicereply, look for a bell curve with most responses around 5 or a 6. If your goal is a best-in-class operation, making support frictionless should be a top priority.

Can I use CES in combination with CSAT or NPS?

Yes, many companies find that combining CES and CSAT or CES and NPS gives them a more complete understanding of the customer support experience. Although a CES score tells you effort level, it doesn’t get to the why of the customer’s response or how they feel overall about your brand.

Quick guide to NPS (Net Promoter Score)

NPS is calculated with the percentage of a company’s true advocates (“9” and “10” on a 10-point recommendation scale) minus its detractors (“0” through “6” on this same scale). Based on research by Bain & Co, an NPS survey will always look the same—a scale from 0 to 10. The question itself can vary slightly, but most often reads as: “How likely are you to recommend X Brand to a friend or colleague?”

NPS is often used as a way to identify strong brand enthusiasts and also reach out to detractors. If a customer leaves a negative score, it’s considered a best practice to reach out for more information or to improve the situation with an offer or proactive support.

NPS as a metric also has its detractors (pun intended). In its calculation, a score of six is essentially equal to a zero — meaning improving a customer’s selection from a zero to a six would make no actual difference in the overall NPS score. While that is true in the aggregate, improving individual customer’s NPS scores has great value. Armed with the knowledge about why a customer gave a certain rating, customer service agents can directly address those issues and work with the customer to improve the situation. Companies can even compare CSAT and NPS scores to see how their support teams are helping to improve the individual and overall trends over time.

Quick guide to sentiment scoring for customer service

Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, is the process of determining whether language reflects positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. For customer service, sentiment analysis looks at the emotion behind customer communications. Using natural language processing capabilities, customer experience agents and supervisors can gain automated insights into the emotions behind customer interactions.

Sentiment scores (which assign a value to the message, conversation, and customer) can be used in combination with tools like NPS to get a multi-dimensional picture of customer satisfaction. Generating reports based on sentiment changes or the themes of positive or negative sentiment (like a specific product or experience) can help you better understand your customers.

Why is customer satisfaction important?

There are a range of data points supporting the value of satisfied customers. The core reasons to care about customer satisfaction are obvious: customer loyalty, customer lifetime value, and word of mouth. However, there are also less obvious reasons. Customer satisfaction can also be correlated to agent happiness (ASAT, agent satisfaction); no one wants to make people unhappy all day, so there’s a lot of research showing when one goes up, so does the other. Higher agent happiness of course correlates to retention and lower business and recruiting costs.

Here are some additional stats about why investing in customer satisfaction delivers ROI:

  • A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits from 25 percent to 95 percent, according to research from Bain & Company.
  • When service reps can provide better experiences to customers they feel better about their jobs, and their intent to stay increases up to 17%, according to Gartner.
  • According to CEB Global, 96% of consumers that reported having difficulty solving a problem were more disloyal.


What are some strategies for improving customer satisfaction?

There’s obviously a wealth of strategies and improvements CS and CX leaders can make to improve customer satisfaction. Here are a few of the focus areas that can have huge payoff:

  • If you don’t already have it, build executive buy-in and consensus for customer service as a brand differentiator. Sharing examples from leading people-first brands and category disruptors can help drive internal conversations about change. Many enterprise CX organizations are reinventing the names, skillsets, and trainings of their support teams because of the importance of the support experience to customer value.
  • Consider proactive support as a means to divert and avoid negative customer experiences. This can mean everything from pushing notifications about shipping delays to getting ahead of negative reviews with an offer or product exchange.
  • Evaluate whether your customer service technology is empowering your agents to quickly and efficiently resolve customer issues and deliver exceptional quality. Have high expectations for your technology partners to enable best-in-class solutions that have a unified omnichannel experience.
  • Segment your satisfaction scores by demographics, product, support channel, and more to see if there’s any underlying problems in specific areas.
  • Invest in self-service content that’s easy to find and navigate. A strong Knowledge Base or FAQ section can be the foundation for a more efficient customer support function, allowing customers to resolve their own questions without needing to contact support.

Got more questions about measuring and interpreting customer satisfaction metrics? Reach out to connect with a CX expert from Kustomer.