As an Ancient Greek CX manager once said, “Know thy customer, know thyself.”
An effective customer satisfaction survey can uncover deep insights about nearly every aspect of your business, from product and service to brand image and consumer sentiment.
With customer expectations at an all-time high, honest feedback is vital. In fact, 72 percent of CX professionals believe that feedback is more important now than it was three years ago. At the end of the day, customers are the drivers of your success—and who knows more about their needs than the customers themselves?
By following our guidelines and asking the right CSAT questions, you can learn everything you need to know about your customers, your business, and the steps you can take to improve agent performance and reduce customer churn.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, as you may have guessed from the name, measures a customer’s level of satisfaction with a service, product, or overall experience. In the contact center industry, CSAT surveys typically focus on customer service.
As the graphic below illustrates, there are two methods of calculating CSAT score from your survey results. You can simply take the average of the 1 to 5 score. Alternatively, you can divide the number of 4 or 5 answers by the total number of responses and multiply the answer by 100. This gives you the percentage of happy customers.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the average CSAT score in the United States in Q1 2023 was 73.6 percent. Of course, these scores are context-dependent and vary by industry.
It’s generally accepted that a good CSAT score is between 75 and 85, but there’s always room for improvement. Thankfully, the ACSI provides a database of CSAT benchmarks, sorted by sector and individual businesses, so you can see where you stand.
The happiness of your customers plays a key role in your organization’s success. Every year, businesses lose $75 billion in revenue from customers who leave due to unsatisfactory service.
Customer satisfaction can be indicative of everything from agent performance to market trends. With CSAT, you can identify a benchmark to improve upon and work from there, pinpointing stumbling blocks in the customer journey and nipping issues in the bud before they escalate.
By measuring, tracking and, ultimately, improving customer satisfaction, you can boost CX, cement loyalty, and increase long-term profitability. How can you do this? With well-timed, carefully constructed CSAT questions.
Getting the timing right is key to sourcing honest customer feedback and ensuring a high response rate. By sending your CSAT surveys at the most opportune moments, you can avoid survey fatigue and link responses to specific points in the customer journey. So, when is the best time to ask CSAT questions?
As time passes, memory fades. Leave it too long, and customers may forget the details. Reaching out with a survey right after the interaction increases your chances of getting accurate feedback while it’s still fresh in the customer’s mind.
Sending a CSAT survey after a purchase or a sign-up allows you to understand how your customers feel about the purchasing process, your sales approach, pricing options, and the overall ease (or difficulty) of checkout.
With self-service options becoming increasingly prevalent thanks to automation tools and generative AI, it’s important that you determine how effective these methods are. Surveying customers after they use self-service tools will let you know what does and doesn’t work.
Periodic surveys are important for monitoring customer loyalty and reducing churn. Checking in with customers on a regular basis (but being mindful not to overwhelm them) allows you to measure long-term satisfaction and monitor any trends or changes.
If you want honest customer feedback, you need to pick the right CSAT questions. Keep them clear, concise, and relevant to your business—and don’t ask too many, or you’ll struggle to get responses.
Stay focused and keep your questions relevant to your business and the respondent’s experience. For example, there’s no point asking about the customer’s purchase if they didn’t actually buy anything.
Likewise, you should target the aspects of the customer journey that are actionable for your organization. While asking about self-service AI might be interesting, it’s not relevant if you have no intention of implementing such software.
Keep it simple. Effective CSAT questions are clear and easily understood, with no convoluted phrasing or technical jargon. Words that are open to misinterpretation should be avoided. As an example, it’s better not to ask your customer if they would like a “biweekly” follow-up. Instead, check if they want to hear from you twice a week or every second week.
It’s also important to avoid ‘double-barrelled’ questions that cover multiple topics—this will only confuse respondents and skew the data. For example, “Did you find the agent engaging and informative?” can produce misleading results, as “engaging” and “informative” are different qualities.
While it may be tempting to ask, “On a scale of amazing to brilliant, how terrific was your experience today?”, it’s not really beneficial—we’re looking for honesty, not flattery. Avoid biased questions that lead the customer in a specific direction.
CSAT questions should be neutral in tone, with wording that keeps the respondent focused on the subject matter without influencing their answer. Rather than asking if their experience was “good” or “bad”, consider asking how it was.
Not many people have the time, or the desire, to spend longer than a few minutes completing a survey, so it’s important that you get to the point.
Short, direct questions work best. If the survey starts to drag or the questions get too complicated, it’s likely that your respondents will switch off or abandon the survey altogether.
“Was your issue resolved to your satisfaction?” achieves the same results as “Taking into account the nature of your query, would you say that your issue was resolved quickly, efficiently, and satisfactorily? Or could we have done more to please you?”
Memory fades quickly, so it’s important that you survey customers sooner rather than later. This point is especially relevant for CSAT questions about CX and agent performance, as customer sentiment is likely to be more accurate and genuine in the immediate aftermath of an interaction.
The data sourced from a survey should ultimately result in real, actionable insights that make a difference to your organization. Otherwise, collecting CSAT feedback is just busywork. Using analytics tools, you can delve into the responses to identify trends and pinpoint issues.
You should have a plan in place for the analysis stage, ensuring that you target specific pain points and use the data to support positive changes in your contact center. Survey data can be especially useful for building business cases to support new technologies or methods.
From data-driven quantitative questions to more open-ended queries, you can tailor your survey depending on your goals. Let’s look at 11 of the most effective CSAT questions you can ask to get honest customer feedback.
Quantitative CSAT questions are easy to understand, with simple answers and clear output data. Typically, respondents are asked to answer on a Likert scale (1 to 5) or in binary terms (yes/no). In some cases, respondents are reluctant to answer on the extreme ends (1 or 5) of a Likert scale, so the binary approach can simplify things.
Sometimes the best question is the simplest one. The core purpose of a CSAT survey is to find out if the customer is satisfied, so why not just ask them straight out? This way, you can get a clear, high-level understanding of how customers feel about your service.
Asking about response/waiting time can give you a better insight into KPIs like service level and average handle time (AHT), as well as agent performance and process efficiency. With this question, you can determine whether or not your waiting time is acceptable.
While CX has become increasingly important to customers, price remains a key differentiator when it comes to making a purchase decision. Asking your customers how they feel about the cost of your product can help inform your future pricing strategy.
This CSAT question is the basis of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), an essential customer experience metric. Typically, this question offers a 1 to 10 answer scale, with a score of 9 or 10 indicating a “promoter”, i.e. a loyal customer who will help you grow.
Retention and loyalty are key indicators of customer lifetime value (CLV), so it’s important to ask questions that probe this area. A customer who is willing to come back time and time again will provide significant value across their relationship with your brand.
Open-ended CSAT questions give you the opportunity to generate more honest feedback, encouraging customers to be descriptive and use their own words rather than sticking to prefilled answer options.
While these queries require more effort from the respondent and additional processing on your behalf, choosing the right questions increases participation and encourages truthful answers, giving you a level of insight that isn’t always possible with the quantitative approach.
Call center leaders can use feedback from this question to inform training strategies and process adjustments. If, for instance, customers frequently note that their agent lacked empathy, you could focus on developing emotional intelligence across your team.
The responses to this CSAT question are particularly beneficial for sales and marketing departments. Understanding why customers choose your product over a competitor’s will allow you to emphasize those decisive features in your marketing materials.
This is a particularly useful CSAT question—only a one-word answer is required, but it’s still broad enough to allow for a range of responses. By analyzing the answers, you can drill down into the key features that make your company stand out and address any highlighted issues.
The constructive criticism arising from this question can inform product strategy and give you a greater understanding of customer needs and market trends.
Similar to the previous question, this one is all about constructive criticism and using customer feedback to fuel improvement. The answers here can be used to enhance agent performance or even inform changes to workflow and processes.
This is maybe the most open-ended of open-ended CSAT questions, giving the customer freedom to share their thoughts on anything they please. By including one broad question like this, typically at the end of a survey, you can make sure you don’t miss out on any feedback.
Carrying out the survey is only one part of the process—once you’ve received the results, it’s time to take action. To make the most of your survey feedback, you’ll want to break down the data and identify actionable insights.
In doing this, you can share your insights with the relevant departments and take steps to implement changes. Maybe the feedback will single out top-performing agents whom you can reward or identify others who require additional coaching and training.
Make sure you have an action plan in place before collecting feedback. It’s better to be proactive and outline how you will handle the results rather than acting sporadically when you begin to process the responses.
By carrying out additional surveys over time, you can further define customer segments, track changes in satisfaction, and benchmark your performance against competitors. It’s also useful to create a repository of customer feedback that you can consult in the future.
Effective customer surveys can offer detailed insights into what your business is doing well—and where improvements may be required. To ensure honest customer feedback, you need to construct your survey carefully, choosing the right CSAT questions and phrasing them in a way that encourages genuine responses.
Customer satisfaction is connected to every aspect of a business, from agent performance to bottom-line revenue, so it’s important to understand how your customers are feeling and what you can do to improve your CSAT score.
With Scorebuddy, you can turn your survey data into tangible actions. Analyze the data with our in-depth reporting suite, share the results with collaborators, and deliver targeted training via the only integrated learning management system on the market.
To see how Scorebuddy can boost customer satisfaction for your contact center, try it for free for 14 days—no strings attached.
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