CSAT, NPS, or CES. Which Survey Is Right For You?

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In the words of Mugatu (Will Ferrell) from the movie Zoolander, the customer experience is so hot right now.  In a world where customers have more places than ever to take their business, and thanks to social media, a louder voice than ever when they are dissatisfied, smart companies are beginning to realize that it’s really important to pay attention to what their customers are saying.

Voice of Customer (VOC) is all about listening to what customers are saying about your product or service in an effort to learn what’s working and what needs to be improved.  What better opportunity to improve than to listen to the folks actually using our product or service?

In a previous post I shared three easy ways to gain valuable customer experience insight.  In this article, I want to spend a bit more time on the various surveys for listening to the VOC, specifically Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES).  I’ll briefly talk about what they are and share a few best practices for your consideration.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is a popular survey that asks a customer to rate their satisfaction with your product or service on a scale of 1 (unacceptable) to 10 (excellent).  From there, it’s simple to get an overall average rating.

Common practice in a customer service environment is to send a survey out to a customer after they contact support.  Many customer engagement platforms on the market like Zendesk and Desk.com have this functionality built in.  For systems that don’t have this integrated, survey platforms like SurveyMonkey and QuestionPro can easily connect to a variety of CRMs, even homegrown ones, without a huge amount of time or expense.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is another simple survey that is rapidly increasing in popularity as a measure of customer loyalty.  NPS asks respondents to rate the likelihood that they would recommend the company to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0 to 10.  The people who respond with a 9 or 10 are considered promoters, 7 and 8 are passives, and 0 to 6 are detractors.

To calculate NPS, take the percentage of detractors and subtract that from the percentage of promoters.  According to Satmetrix, promoters are much more likely to spend more money, remain a customer longer, and tell others about your company through word of mouth.

While we find that it’s fairly common for companies to ask this question after customers contact support, there are pros and cons to asking a questions about loyalty when their support experience is fresh in their mind.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES is a survey used to gauge how much effort a customer had to put forth to resolve their issue.  Customers are asked “How easy was it to get your issues resolved?” According to an article in the Harvard Business Review titled Stop Trying To Delight Your Customers, this survey invites customers to rate their level of effort on a scale of 7 (minimal effort) to 1 (maximum effort).  The closer the score is to a seven, the better.

According to the article, a reduction in customer effort comes as a result of agents being empowered to solve problems and it prevents customers from switching from one support channel to another (like griping on Twitter when no one answers the phone).  They also cite that it’s a better predictor or repeat business than NPS or CSAT.

Words Of Wisdom

Now that you know a bit about CSAT, NPS and CES, I want to take a few moments to share a some words of wisdom as you consider the right survey for your business.

Measure something

At FCR we’ve found that 50% of our clients are currently surveying their customers for CSAT.  Another 6% are also measuring for NPS on their CSAT survey.  Regardless of the survey you select, there’s a good chance that it can be activated through your current technology with very little effort.  

By beginning to measure the level of satisfaction of your customers, it sets a benchmark by which you can set goals for improvement month over month and year over year.  If you are uncertain as to the survey that’s right for you, Jeff Toister wrote this fantastic article with some things to consider when selecting the ideal survey.

Keep it simple

Don’t overthink your survey.  Everyone is being bombarded with emails and surveys all the time.  Remember that the more questions you ask and the more frequently you poll your customers, the less likely they will be to respond.  That’s what makes these one question surveys so great.

Read the comments

Don’t forget to leave a place for your customers to include comments on their survey.  The insight as to why they left the rating they did is invaluable to understanding how to improve your customer experience.  If the customer indicates they want a call back, call them!  In the words of Ken Blanchard, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”  Accept it as a gift, be grateful, and take action.  Without specific goals for improvement, the scores aren’t worth a whole lot.

Celebrate the positive.  Approach the negative with caution.

Most customer engagement platforms can tie the scores back to the individual customer service representative that worked with the customer.  While we typically find that the scores correlate well with our internal quality monitoring, we also find that some survey scores are completely out of the control of agent they spoke with.  Perhaps the customer was truly unreasonable and took it out on the survey.  Or perhaps the customer spoke with multiple agents and the score was tied to one agent who actually did a great job.  Consider also that an agent might receive low marks for correctly enforcing a company policy that the customer didn’t agree with.  It’s important to ensure fairness and avoid making your employees accountable for things that are totally out of their control.

Benchmark your data

Finally, one of the coolest things about all three of these surveys is that you can take your scores and benchmark them against other companies, and even see how you stack up against your competition.  To learn more about each, check out these sites:

CSAT- The American Customer Satisfaction Index

NPS- The Net Promoter Community

CES- CEB

 

What’s your customer survey of choice and why?  Leave us a comment and weigh in with your thoughts.

 

Jeremy Watkin Head of Quality FCR

Jeremy Watkin
Head of Quality
FCR

9 Comments. Leave new

Bryan Kelly (@VexionA31)
09/26/2015 11:58 am

I prefer standard CSAT as that’s an over all general how am I doing based on the customers feelings. Now I do think it needs some tweaking. I say this because I have had CSAT’s before where it wasn’t just based on how I was doing but how they felt about anything. So if they hate the company but they loved my Customer Service then I could still end up with a terrible CSAT just because the customer is venting about the company in it. Don’t get me wrong there are many companies that separate the two, the CSAT’s are completely based on the customers experience with the Rep they spoke too. But at least in the end CSAT’s let me know how I am doing as an Agent and see if there’s anything I can improve on.

Reply
Jeremy Watkin
10/02/2015 3:31 pm

Great points, Bryan. I think regardless of the survey you choose, if your focus is on finding ways to take action and improve based on the responses, you are doing the right thing. Thanks for your comment!

Reply
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09/29/2015 11:19 am

[…] post was originally published on the FCR blog on September 25, 2015.  Click here to read the […]

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12/09/2016 12:28 pm

[…] Score, and/or Customer Effort Score. If you’re not sure which customer survey is right for you, here’s some information to help you choose. You will learn volumes about what your customers are experiencing by not only […]

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A Seat at the Customer Experience Table - Customer Service Life
12/23/2016 6:00 am

[…] Score, and/or Customer Effort Score. If you’re not sure which customer survey is right for you, here’s some information to help you choose. You will learn volumes about what your customers are experiencing by not only […]

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Terri Lynn Phillips
12/29/2016 8:47 pm

Wow, Jeremy. I hadn’t thought of different types of surveys. I guess its true that you learn something new everyday. I always wondered how to do a survey that turns responses into numbers. I cannot wait to try out the NPS survey Thanks..

Reply
Jeremy Watkin
12/30/2016 10:39 am

Thanks, Terri! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions about the survey.

Reply
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06/30/2017 4:01 am

[…] you can close the loop, you need to first open a loop. A great way to do this is with a survey. Here’s a summary of some of the popular survey methods to consider. What I care more about is that you have a way to […]

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07/06/2017 12:13 pm

[…] you can close the loop, you need to first open a loop. A great way to do this is with a survey. Here’s a summary of some of the popular survey methods to consider. What I care more about is that you have a way to […]

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