How to Interpret Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Survey Results

Written by Moritz Dausinger, CEO of Refiner

Are you running CSAT surveys? Wondering how to interpret customer satisfaction results you’re getting?

You know, collecting feedback is just one part of building a customer-centric business. But it’s what you do with those results that matters and makes a difference to your company or product.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to analyze and interpret your customer satisfaction survey results. You’ll also discover how to identify your business’s weak points and what to do about them.

But before we get into that, let’s quickly recap the main concepts of CSAT and how you can run customer satisfaction surveys successfully.

A Brief Overview Of CSAT Surveys

A CSAT (short for customer satisfaction) survey is a feedback survey used to measure customers’ satisfaction levels with your company’s product, service, or a particular interaction.

CSAT uses rating questions or Likert scale questions to collect customer feedback. 

Like this:

CSAT example.

Customers respond by choosing their reaction between “Very unsatisfied” and “Very satisfied” for the asked question. 

Now, the question in the above example focuses on measuring satisfaction levels with the product. But you can use CSAT to know customer satisfaction with aspects like:

  • Customer service,
  • Sales,
  • New feature,
  • Onboarding process,
  • Training process,
  • Demo,
  • Checkout, and more.

How to measure CSAT?

Once you start receiving customer responses, your CSAT survey software will display your CSAT score in real-time. To measure it manually, however, use this formula at the end of your survey:

CSAT score = (Total number of satisfied customers (i.e., people who choose 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale)/ Number of survey responses) x 100

CSAT score calculation example.

For example, if 260 people out of the 320 are satisfied with your product, the CSAT score for the above-shared example would be:

CSAT score = (260/320) x 100 = 81.25%

This is a great CSAT score. Generally, anything above 80% is considered an indicator of success.

4 Best Practices To Increase the Response Rate

1. Send surveys at the right time 

CSAT survey frequency and timing are the two primary elements behind higher or lower response rates.

If you don’t send the surveys at the right time, customers are less likely to fill it. For example, if you send a survey instantly after the customer uses your SaaS for the first time, it’s too early: they likely wouldn’t have had the whole experience yet. On the other hand, it’d be late if you send a survey asking for their recent customer service experience 24 hours after they chatted with the support team.

The general rule of thumb is to send the survey when the full experience is fresh in the customer’s mind. By “full,” I mean the customer should have experienced every necessary thing related to the CSAT question to form an informed opinion. For example, if they haven’t explored your SaaS fully, their answer will be inaccurate if you ask them, “How satisfied are you with the product?”

2. Send surveys frequently

There are two reasons to send your CSAT surveys frequently:

  1. First, to remind: Remember, filling your CSAT surveys is at the bottom of your customers’ priority list. So if you send them the survey when they are busy, they won’t respond. Therefore, send the survey frequently ⁠— if it makes sense ⁠— to remind them.
  2. To get their freshest opinion: If you interpret survey results correctly and make changes based on feedback, customers are likely to have a more favorable opinion of your brand. But sometimes, changes can backfire as well. So instead of guessing, send the same survey again after a significant change to know their latest opinion.

3. Send surveys through the most appropriate channel

You can ask for surveys through multiple channels. For example, if you use Refiner to conduct surveys, you can collect responses using in-app widgets, emails, and survey pages.

Choose the most appropriate channel depending on the question. For example, if the question is regarding customers’ experience with the SaaS, send the in-app widget popup to collect feedback while customers are using your tool.

4. Ask proper questions

It’s one thing to get maximum responses ⁠— sending surveys frequently, at the right time, and on the right channel will help you with it. But it’s another to get useful responses.

What are useful responses? They are answers wherein users describe what they like and dislike about your brand and what you can do to make them happy.

To get useful responses, you need to ask well-structured, accurate CSAT questions because a vague question will only get you a vague response.

For example, here’s a precise question you can ask after a user ends a call with your support representative: “How would you rate the support you received?” Now, suppose they select 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale. In that case, you can (and I recommend you do) ask a follow-up question like “What was the most memorable with the support interaction?” to get more details about the customer’s positive experience.

With that out of the way, let’s see what you can do with the results of the survey.

7 Steps to Interpret CSAT survey results

Step 1: Look at the overall scores to determine potential warning levels

Firstly, look at the CSAT scores of the broader questions like the “How satisfied are you with the product?” question. It will help you determine warning levels and decide the time frame to solve customer problems. 

Refer to this table to determine warning levels:

CSAT ScoreMeaningWarning Level
0-40%Poor CSATHigh
40-60%Okay CSATSlightly high
60-80%Good CSATLow
80%+Excellent CSATVery low

Depending on the conclusion:

  • If the warning level is high, get to the bottom of the problem(s) and allocate all resources to solve it immediately. Otherwise, you’ll lose the current customers sooner or later, which you don’t want, especially if your business runs on a recurring revenue model.
  • On the other hand, if the warning level’s low, it’s not urgent (but important). So get to the problems once your team(s) finishes their currently scheduled assignments.

Step 2: Be pessimistic, and prioritize surveys based on the score

Look at all the CSAT scores pessimistically to understand that there’s room for improvement. For example, say you get a 90% CSAT score for a survey. It means that still 1 in 10 people isn’t satisfied.

Then, prioritize all the surveys from the lowest score to the highest. For instance, let’s say your “How would you rate the support you received?” the question survey has a CSAT score of 60%. And “How easy is it to use [Product]?” got a 90% score. Then, put the former one first on the list.

Next, follow the below steps for each survey from top-to-bottom.

Step 3: Look for patterns in each survey.

Let’s continue with the “How would you rate the support you received?” survey example. Sort all the survey responses from negative to positive, and look for common patterns in the follow-up question’s answers.

A typical follow-up question for a negative response would be an open-ended question like “How can we improve our customer service?”. Answers to this question will include keywords like ‘slow replies,’ ‘unprofessional,’ ‘problem not solved,’ etc.

Capture the most common complaints and work on them. For example, if your agents can’t respond quickly, a possible solution could be to recruit new agents.

Step 4: Next, look for patterns across customer segments

Don’t just look for patterns across customers’ answers; also look for commonalities across customers who aren’t satisfied.

Depending on your product or service, you can segment your customers by:

  • Geography: Their physical location.
  • Demographics: Their gender, age, etc.
  • Behavior: Their product usage, loyalty, understanding of your product, etc.
  • Plan: If you offer multiple packages, see the plan they are on.
  • And more.

Again, let’s continue the previous example and look into the geography-based customer segment. Let’s say you have a worldwide customer base, but your support department only operates during the EST timezone. Now, it’s possible that your customers from India send a query during their time and get a late reply because your support team is offline, and hence they are not satisfied. 

Once you figure out the dissatisfied customer segment(s), it’ll be easier to find a possible solution. For instance, you won’t be confused whether you should hire new customer support staff or do something else to better the CSAT score for the “How would you rate the support you received?” survey when you know it’s only the customers from India who are unhappy and because of late replies.

Step 5: Share your findings with relevant teams

Once you have figured out the potential problems, share your findings with relevant teams. For instance, if it’s about customer service, send the report to the support team manager.

  • Ask for their opinions to solve the problem
  • Consider their opinions when solving the problem

Note: Ensure everyone in the organization understands what CSAT surveys are, what the CSAT score means, the industry benchmarks, and how your survey results compare with benchmarks and previous customer satisfaction survey results (if conducted).

Step 6: Try and solve the key problems

Once you know the problems and have considered all relevant parties’ opinions on how to solve them, make an action plan:

  1. Define the problem,
  2. Describe the core issues,
  3. Lay out the step-by-step solution plan for each issue,
  4. Prioritize the issues properly,
  5. Set goals
  6. Allocate the needed resources as per warning levels.

And solve the problem.

Step 7: Ask for customer feedback. Again.

Made the changes? Solved the problem(s)? Awesome! Now, send customers the same survey questions again at the appropriate time.

  • If the CSAT score goes up, it’s a success. Be happy about it, yes, but then go into the pessimistic mode to push the CSAT score to as near as 100%.
  • If the CSAT score goes down ⁠— and it most likely won’t ⁠— start from Step 1: Determine the warning levels.

A couple of ways to use CSAT Results

Performing the above seven steps will undoubtedly help increase customer loyalty, better customer experience, reduce churn rate, and increase revenue. But there are many more insights you can gather from CSAT results while going through the interpretation/analysis process, like:

1. Find your next big idea

Your users can be a source of ideas for your upcoming features, products, integrations, and more. Here’s a simple example: If you don’t have Paypal checkout and someone exclusively uses Paypal for business, then they’ll suggest you add it when responding to the “How’d you rate your checkout experience?” survey question.

2. Understand customer lingo for marketing success

“Speak your customer’s language” is one of the fundamental marketing rules. 

You can catch customers’ language from how they describe their problem or refer to your brand when answering the open-ended follow-up questions. Later, you can use it in marketing campaigns.

For example, if most refer to your accounting “SaaS” as “tool,” then probably A/B test your ad title between “XYZ SaaS” and “XYZ tool.” The “tool” copy may perform better because the potential customer understands what an “accounting tool” is but is not quite sure when you say “accounting SaaS.”

Conclusion

Running customer surveys ⁠— whether it’s CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), NPS (Net Promoter Score), or CES (Customer Effort Score) ⁠— is crucial to growing your business. 

Wait…wait…let me rephrase the sentence: Running customer surveys AND acting upon the customer feedback you receive through the surveys is crucial to growing your business.

But to act upon the feedback, you first need to know what the actual feedback is and why it is so. With the seven-step process I discussed in this article, you’ll be able to interpret customer survey results and feedback properly to make necessary changes efficiently.

Hopefully, it will help you improve your CSAT score.

Good luck!

Looking for a CSAT survey solution for SaaS? Reach more customers with fully customizable in-app surveys and make accurate measurements of your customer satisfaction score. Discover Refiner

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