Customer feedback

CSAT explained: What is a customer satisfaction score?

AskNicely Team

In the world of customer experience metrics, acronyms and abbreviations get thrown around left, right, and center…CSAT, NPS CXM, CLV, CES…it can all feel a little overwhelming. But customer experience doesn’t have to be complicated, and here at AskNicely, our goal is to make things simple and approachable. 

While there are multiple metrics you could use to measure customer satisfaction, let’s look at the classic customer satisfaction score, also called CSAT. We’ll cover what CSAT is, how to calculate it, how to improve your score and the benefits of using it to measure the effectiveness of your customer experience management strategy.

What is customer satisfaction score (CSAT)?

Customer satisfaction score is a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures customer satisfaction with a company's products or services. It's typically gathered through surveys that ask customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale, such as 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. The score is then calculated as a percentage of customers who are satisfied (usually those who rate their experience as a four or five on a five-point scale).

The specificity of CSAT makes it invaluable for pinpointing issues and opportunities in real-time. For instance, in an eCommerce setting, a CSAT survey might be triggered immediately after a purchase, asking customers about their satisfaction with the checkout process. This can reveal insights about the user experience at a critical point in the customer journey.

In customer support, CSAT is commonly used to measure satisfaction after a service call. For example, after resolving a customer's issue over the phone, a follow-up CSAT survey might ask, "How satisfied were you with the assistance you received?" This helps companies understand the effectiveness of their support and identify areas for improvement.


While customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are both essential metrics for understanding customer sentiment, they serve different purposes and provide unique insights into customer experiences.

CSAT measures satisfaction with a specific interaction, product experience, or service encounter. It is transactional, focusing on individual touch points within the customer journey. For example, a customer might be asked to rate their satisfaction with the checkout process immediately after making a purchase online. This immediate feedback helps businesses identify and address specific issues quickly.

NPS, on the other hand, gauges overall customer loyalty and their likelihood to recommend the brand to others. It is relational, providing a broader view of the customer’s experience with the company as a whole. NPS surveys typically ask, "How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?" followed by a rating scale from 0 to 10. This metric offers insights into long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Key differences:

  • Focus: CSAT is transactional, while NPS is relational.
  • Scope: CSAT evaluates a single interaction; NPS assesses the overall relationship with the brand.
  • Purpose: CSAT helps pinpoint specific areas for immediate improvement; NPS identifies overall customer loyalty and long-term satisfaction.

Including both metrics in your customer experience strategy provides a comprehensive view of customer sentiment. CSAT data can highlight immediate issues that need attention, while NPS can track broader trends in customer loyalty and overall satisfaction. By addressing specific touch points that affect customer satisfaction (CSAT), you can positively impact your overall customer loyalty and NPS scores.

Example CSAT survey questions: 

Creating effective CSAT surveys involves asking clear, concise questions that directly relate to specific customer interactions. Here are the top five CSAT survey questions commonly used across various industries:

  1. How satisfied were you with your recent purchase experience?
    • This question is perfect for retail and eCommerce businesses. It focuses on the overall purchasing process, from browsing to checkout. Customers typically respond using a Likert scale ranging from 1 (highly unsatisfied) to 5 (highly satisfied).

  2. How satisfied were you with the customer service you received?
    • Ideal for customer support and service departments, this question assesses the quality of the interaction with a service representative. It helps identify strengths and areas for improvement in the support process.

  3. How satisfied are you with the product/service you received?
    • This question targets satisfaction with a specific product or service. It’s useful for gauging the quality and performance of the offerings and understanding customer perceptions.

  4. How satisfied were you with the speed of service?
    • Particularly relevant for industries where timeliness is crucial, such as food delivery, hospitality, and logistics. This question helps businesses understand if they are meeting customer expectations for timely service.

  5. How satisfied were you with the resolution of your issue?
    • This question focuses on the effectiveness of problem resolution. It’s essential for customer support teams to understand if customers feel their issues were adequately addressed and resolved.

Each of these questions utilizes a Likert scale, typically ranging from 1 to 5, where 1 indicates "highly unsatisfied" and 5 signifies "highly satisfied." This scale allows customers to express their satisfaction levels accurately and provides businesses with quantifiable data to analyze and act upon. 

Methods for measuring CSAT

Measuring CSAT effectively requires selecting the right methods and timing to gather accurate and actionable feedback. Here are some common methods to measure CSAT, along with tips on when and where to send surveys, and how to craft effective survey questions.

Methods for measuring CSAT

  1. Post-interaction surveys
    • Email surveys: After a customer completes a transaction or interacts with customer service, send a follow-up email with a CSAT survey. This method allows for detailed responses and can be automated for convenience.
    • SMS surveys: For quicker responses, SMS surveys can be sent immediately after an interaction. This method is particularly effective for mobile-savvy customers who prefer short, direct communication.
    • Pop-up surveys: On websites or mobile apps, pop-up surveys can be triggered after specific actions, such as completing a purchase or using a feature. These surveys capture immediate feedback without requiring customers to leave the platform.
  2. Customer service call ratings
    • After a customer support call, an automated system can prompt customers to rate their satisfaction. This method captures immediate feedback about the service interaction, helping identify strengths and areas for improvement in the support process.
  3. Social media sentiment analysis
    • Analyzing customer sentiment on social media platforms can provide insights into overall satisfaction. Tools that monitor and analyze social media mentions and reviews can help gauge customer sentiment and identify trends in real-time.

Timing is everything

The timing of your CSAT surveys is crucial to obtaining accurate feedback. Here are some tips on when and where to send CSAT surveys:

  • Immediately after an interaction: Send surveys as soon as possible after the customer interaction to capture fresh and accurate feedback. For example, after a purchase, service call, or live chat session.

  • At key touch points: Identify critical moments in the customer journey where feedback is most valuable. These might include post-purchase, post-support interaction, or after using a specific feature.

  • Avoid peak times: Ensure that surveys are sent at times when customers are likely to have the time and attention to respond, avoiding peak business hours or known busy periods for your customers.

Tips for writing effective survey questions

To gather meaningful feedback, it's important to craft clear, concise, and easy-to-understand survey questions. Here are some tips:

  • Be specific: Tailor questions to the specific interaction being measured. For example, "How satisfied were you with the checkout process?" instead of a generic "How satisfied are you?"

  • Use simple language: Avoid jargon or complex language. Ensure that the questions are straightforward and easy for all customers to understand.

  • Offer relevant answer choices: Provide a Likert scale (e.g., 1-5) with clear labels such as "Highly Unsatisfied" to "Highly Satisfied." This helps customers quickly and accurately convey their level of satisfaction.

  • Keep it short: Limit the number of questions to keep the survey concise. A shorter survey increases the likelihood of completion and provides higher-quality responses.

By selecting the right methods, timing your surveys appropriately, and crafting clear questions, you can effectively measure CSAT and gain valuable insights into customer satisfaction at specific touch points. This enables you to make data-driven decisions to enhance the overall customer experience.

How to calculate CSAT scores

Calculating your customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is straightforward and involves a simple formula. The CSAT score is derived by taking the percentage of positive responses (usually those who rate their satisfaction as 4 or 5 on a 1 to 5 scale) and dividing that by the total number of responses, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

CSAT score calculation formula

CSAT Score= (number of positive responses / total number of responses) x 100 

Step-by-step example

Let's walk through an example to illustrate the calculation:

  1. Collect responses:
    • Suppose you conducted a CSAT survey and received 100 responses.
    • The responses are as follows:some text
      • 20 rated 1 (highly unsatisfied)
      • 10 rated 2
      • 10 rated 3
      • 30 rated 4
      • 30 rated 5 (highly satisfied)
  2. Identify positive responses:
    • Positive responses are typically those rating their satisfaction as 4 or 5.
    • In this example, the number of positive responses is 30(4) + 30(5) =60

  3. Apply the CSAT formula:
    • Plug the numbers into the formula
      CSAT Score = (60 / 100) x 100

  4. Calculate the percentage:
    • Perform the division and multiplication: CSAT
      CSAT Score = 0.6 x 100 = 60%

In this example, the CSAT score is 60%, meaning that 60% of the respondents were satisfied with their experience.

By regularly calculating and monitoring your CSAT score, you can track customer satisfaction over time, identify trends, and pinpoint areas that need improvement. This metric provides a quick snapshot of how well you are meeting customer expectations at specific touch points, enabling you to make informed decisions to enhance overall customer satisfaction.

What’s a good CSAT score? 

Understanding industry benchmarks can help you gauge your CSAT performance. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the average CSAT score across all industries in the U.S. is about 74%. However, this can vary significantly by industry. For example:

  • Retail: The average CSAT score for retail is around 78%.

  • Software: The average CSAT score for software companies is approximately 79%.

  • Telecommunications: This industry tends to have lower scores, averaging around 65%.

  • Healthcare: The healthcare industry has an average CSAT score of approximately 76%. Patient satisfaction is critical in this sector, as it directly impacts treatment outcomes and hospital reputation.

  • Hospitality: The hospitality industry, including hotels and restaurants, typically sees higher CSAT scores, averaging around 85%. Excellent customer service and a positive guest experience are key drivers.

  • Financial services: The average CSAT score for financial services is around 75%. This includes banks, insurance companies, and investment firms, where trust and reliability are paramount.

  • E-commerce: Online retailers have an average CSAT score of about 78%. Fast shipping, easy returns, and responsive customer service are essential for high satisfaction in this sector.

  • Automotive: The automotive industry has an average CSAT score of approximately 80%. Customer satisfaction in this industry is influenced by factors such as vehicle quality, dealership experience, and after-sales service.

  • Utilities: The utility sector, including water, gas, and electricity providers, generally has lower CSAT scores, averaging around 72%. Billing issues and service reliability are common pain points for customers.

How to improve your CSAT score

  1. Connect CSAT scores to frontline employees: Share CSAT scores with your frontline employees and provide them with branch-specific averages. This increases accountability and motivation by showing how individual and team performances contribute to overall customer satisfaction. Recognize and reward high-performing branches to foster a culture of excellence.

  2. Monitor and respond to feedback: Actively monitor CSAT scores and promptly respond to both positive and negative feedback. Show customers that you are committed to improving their experience by addressing their concerns and making necessary changes.

  3. Invest in employee satisfaction: The happiness of your customer-facing teams directly impacts the happiness of your customers. Invest in creating a positive work environment, providing opportunities for professional development, and recognizing and rewarding employee contributions. Happy employees are more engaged, motivated, and likely to deliver exceptional customer service, ultimately leading to higher CSAT scores.
  4. Personalize customer interactions: Use customer data to personalize interactions and make customers feel like a valued human, not just another number. Personalized emails, recommendations, and offers can significantly boost satisfaction.

  5. Focus on proactive (overactive support): Instead of waiting for customer issues to arise, anticipate their needs and provide proactive support. This can include offering helpful tips, sending reminders for upcoming events or renewals, and providing relevant product or service recommendations. Proactive support demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and can lead to higher CSAT scores by addressing potential issues before they escalate.

Why to measure CSAT? 

In today's highly competitive landscape, where customers interact with brands across multiple touch points and hold high expectations, measuring customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is more critical than ever. CSAT provides actionable insights that help businesses understand and improve specific aspects of the customer experience.

Benefits of measuring CSAT

  1. Improved customer retention:
    • Regularly measuring CSAT helps identify and address issues promptly, increasing the likelihood of retaining satisfied customers.

  2. Increased customer lifetime value:
    • Satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, enhancing their overall lifetime value to the business.

  3. Better product development:
    • Feedback from CSAT surveys can guide product improvements and innovations based on actual customer needs and preferences.

  4. Reduced customer churn:
    • By understanding and addressing the reasons behind customer dissatisfaction, businesses can reduce the rate at which customers leave.

  5. Improved customer loyalty:
    • Consistently high CSAT scores contribute to stronger customer loyalty, as customers feel valued and satisfied with their experiences.

  6. Enhanced brand reputation:
    • Positive CSAT scores reflect well on the brand, leading to a better reputation and increased trust among potential customers.

  7. Boosted employee morale:
    • Employees who see their efforts positively reflected in customer satisfaction are more motivated and engaged in their work.

  8. Competitive advantage:
    • Businesses that prioritize and excel in customer satisfaction differentiate themselves from competitors, gaining a significant market advantage.

How can AskNicely help? 

AskNicely is an easy-to-use platform trusted by world-class organizations across various industries to measure key customer experience (CX) metrics, including customer satisfaction score. 


With AskNicely, users can send customizable email, web, or SMS CSAT surveys to capture customer feedback at the right moment. This flexibility ensures that businesses can reach customers through their preferred communication channels, increasing the likelihood of receiving timely and accurate responses.


AskNicely offers a powerful mission control to measure and improve satisfaction and loyalty. Users can compare locations and branches to spot trends and gain a deeper understanding of customer sentiment across different areas. Additionally, the new AI theme analysis feature helps identify common themes and issues quickly, enabling faster and more informed decision-making.


Effective feedback management is crucial, and AskNicely provides built-in tools for response, escalation, and workflow management. These features ensure that customer feedback is addressed promptly and appropriately, helping businesses maintain high levels of customer satisfaction and prevent issues from escalating.


AskNicely makes it easy to gamify customer service and support for frontline teams by giving them real-time access to their CSAT scores. This visibility empowers employees to take ownership of their performance and focus on tactical areas for improvement, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

Curious? Book a demo. 

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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