CSAT, NPS®*, CES: how to choose your customer satisfaction indicators?
by Sebastien Neveu on 7 December 2022 , updated on 6 January 2023
You are aware of the importance of measuring customer satisfaction to unite your teams on the subject, optimize your customer experience and improve the performance of your establishments.
Effective measurement makes it easier to implement action plans and evaluate their effects. In addition, measuring satisfaction gives you a standard, solid frame of reference to discuss with local employees. As a result, you can move away from hypotheses and hunches towards a structured customer experience strategy.
In short, you can only improve what you measure.
But it would help if you were clear about what you want to measure and how best to do it.
CSAT, NPS®*, CES, ... several customer satisfaction indicators exist and can be relevant. But when and how to use them? How to interpret them? What are their advantages and disadvantages?
Discover our advice in this article.
#1. CSAT, Customer Satisfaction Score
What is the CSAT ?
The CSAT is the oldest customer satisfaction indicator. It is also the most frequently used. Its success is based on its ease of use and immediate intelligibility for upstream customers and downstream employees.
The Customer Satisfaction Score is based on a question like :
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with [brand/interaction/item] ?”.The CSAT score highlights an average satisfaction (average of all scores) and a percentage of satisfaction (% of scores 9 and 10).
How to use the CSAT ?
The CSAT aims to measure the level of customer satisfaction globally or to follow interaction with the brand. It is, therefore, a relational and transactional indicator, depending on how you use it.
When you use it to evaluate an interaction (sales, onboarding, customer service), it is preferable to collect customer feedback immediately after the contact. However, if you use it for product feedback, it's better to give the customer time to experience the product thoroughly.
On the other hand, if you use CSAT to evaluate the relationship with the brand, then you should measure it over time via regular surveys.
CSAT allows you to measure any interaction or customer satisfaction item continuously. It effectively tracks satisfaction throughout the customer lifecycle and follows up with the customer if there is dissatisfaction with a touchpoint.
For collecting feedback, CSAT is an easy-to-use indicator. The response scale is simple and intuitive. You can even replace the numerical scale with visual elements like stars or smileys.
It is also a simple indicator to adopt and easy to understand internally for all employees involved in customer satisfaction.
Finally, the CSAT is often used in an external communication logic to highlight the global satisfaction level of a brand.
Simple to use and understand, CSAT has two significant limitations:
- A generous calculation mode that can mask the areas of improvement to be developed and lead to a "vanity metric" effect. CSAT only counts the proportion of satisfied people and leaves the dissatisfied out of its calculation method.
- The difficulty in moving from measurement to the implementation of a concrete action plan: the score itself can reveal points of dissatisfaction, but the CSAT alone needs more insight into the real reasons for dissatisfaction and the priority actions to be implemented to reduce it.
#2. NPS®*, Net Promoter Score
What is the NPS®* ?
The Net Promoter Score appeared at the beginning of the year 2000 and was born out of a desire to simplify traditional satisfaction questionnaires.
The creator of the NPS®*, Fred Reicheld, considered these questionnaires to be ineffective: too long to fill out, too time-consuming and complex to analyze, they generated low response rates and did not translate into action plans.
So he set out to find the "ultimate question" to determine whether or not a customer would remain loyal to a brand. This is how the NPS®* question emerged:
« On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend or colleague ? ».The Net Promoter Score was the first indicator to consider the power of recommendation and revolutionized customer satisfaction measurement. It has been massively adopted by companies worldwide and has become a standard on which many decision-makers rely.
How to use the NPS®*?
Initially, the NPS®* is a relational indicator. It evaluates the attachment to the brand. It is based on the idea of a correlation between the probability that a customer will recommend your brand and his level of satisfaction and loyalty. Therefore, it is the first indicator to consider the social dimension of customer satisfaction.
The NPS®* promises to allow busy decision-makers to evaluate the level of customer satisfaction of their company through a single indicator.
Moreover, in the mind of its creator, the NPS®* offers a business dimension that the CSAT does not since it indicates an intention to buy again.
The Net Promoter Score®* calculation method (% ambassadors - % detractors) is more demanding than the CSAT and makes it easier to isolate delighted customers.
- promoters (scores of 9 or 10)
- passive customers (scores of 7 or 8)
- detractors (scores less than or equal to 6)
The limits of NPS®*
The NPS®* simplifies satisfaction measurement around a standard indicator commonly recognized by customer satisfaction specialists. However, for decision-makers, it is clear that significant downward variations in NPS®* require quick action.
However, the NPS®* only sometimes solves the issue of moving from measurement to action plan. While it is intuitive for decision-makers, it is often less so for field employees on two points:
- a rating scale not always well understood by employees
- a correlation between recommendation and re-purchase that is not necessarily so obvious
In addition to collecting NPS®*, it is necessary to investigate in greater depth to know which levers to use to improve customer satisfaction.
#3. CES, Customer Effort Score
What is the CES ?
Less well known than the NPS®* and CSAT, the Customer Effort Score is nevertheless very relevant for measuring satisfaction at certain stages of the customer journey.
The CES is based on the idea that the customer seeks to interact effortlessly with a company. Therefore, it is used to evaluate the level of effort perceived by the customer to act, reflecting the fluidity of the experience.
Originally, CES is based on the question.
« What level of effort did you have to expend to complete [action] ?”.
Today, the wording tends to evolve to:
"Company X made it easy to solve my problem," with a rating scale ranging from "Strongly Disagree" to "Strongly Agree."
How to use the CES ?
The CES is a transactional indicator that evaluates the level of effort the customer feels to perform an action or solve a problem.
Traditionally, companies use it to help customer service improve resolution times or provide better experiences.
A significant advantage of CES is that it provides a more objective measure of customer satisfaction since the customer primarily evaluates their level of effort.
Since the company sends a CES questionnaire following a specific interaction and with a hyper-contextualized question, the feedback is easily actionable.
The main limitation of the CES is that it only makes sense to use it for specific interactions, such as a call to customer service.
The CES is complementary to the NPS®* and the CSAT but cannot replace them.
#4. How to choose the right customer satisfaction indicator ?
If we compare the 3 leading customer satisfaction indicators, the CSAT aims to evaluate short-term satisfaction after a purchase, an interaction or product use.
The NPS®* focuses on the long-term relationship between the customer and the brand, based on the assumption that recommendation is an indicator of re-purchase and loyalty.
Conversely, the CES allows us to improve critical interactions by highlighting areas of friction that need to be optimized.
Therefore, it is evident that the three satisfaction indicators are based on entirely different definitions of satisfaction and meet very different objectives.
Before making a choice, you must first ask yourself what the goal of your customer experience strategy is :
- CSAT is undoubtedly the most suitable if you want to optimize your products/services continuously.
- The NPS®* helps you understand how customers perceive your brand more globally over time.
- The CSAT is mainly used to reduce friction on precise customer journey points.
In practice, companies often combine the indicators in their customer listening device to cover all aspects of customer satisfaction. However, moving from satisfaction measurement to a structured and prioritized action plan is still challenging, even if they merge them.
This is why, at WizVille, we have developed the Net Satisfaction Impact, a new indicator that truly reflects satisfaction's impact on your establishments' performance.
#5. Net Satisfaction Impact: towards an intelligent measurement of customer satisfaction
The goal of customer satisfaction management is to keep customers coming back. By improving customer loyalty, you also improve sales in your establishments.
But the difficulty is that you're sailing at a loss with the existing indicators. You need to find out exactly what keeps customers coming back.
The customer experience is a bundle of moments, items and interactions that impact loyalty (welcome, atmosphere, payment, ...). But, in practice, you need to know which items have the most impact. Moreover, they differ from store to store, depending on the location and the local competition...
The Net Impact Score is the first indicator to link satisfaction with the transactional performance indicators of the store. It is obtained as follows:
Satisfied customer turnover / Dissatisfied customer turnover
It allows you to calculate how many satisfied customers generate more turnover.
Then we can calculate the impact of satisfaction on sales.
This calculation will allow us to know how much the annual turnover), the yearly number of purchases and the average basket of investments according to their level of satisfaction on :
- each indicator (NPS®*, average score..)
- each subject (welcome, advice...)
It allows you to know, for example, how much more satisfied customers spend on an item than dissatisfied customers. Thus, you can intuitively see how much a gain in satisfaction on a given subject can bring you in terms of sales.
On the WizVille platform, the NSI is accompanied by personalized recommendations to show you which topics to prioritize to improve your performance. The "smart recommendations" are obtained by displaying the issues on which the sales to be gained are the most important by reaching the best possible level of satisfaction. They allow users to know, within their scope, which aspects should be prioritized to optimize customer satisfaction to have the most significant impact on sales.
Do you want to measure customer satisfaction and its impact on your store performance? Current indicators are necessary but more is needed to move from measurement to action. What if you switched to Smart Customer Satisfaction Management?
* NPS is a registered trademark, and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.