Measuring customer satisfaction: which methods should you use?

How happy are your customers? If you know that 91% of unhappy customers will likely never buy from your business again, customer satisfaction becomes a key metric to track. Even if your customers seem satisfied, do you know why they love your company? Use the right methods to measure customer satisfaction and figure it out.

Why is customer satisfaction so important?

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If you want to improve customer retention and reduce churn, you have to create a strategy to delight customers. What makes your company stand out from the crowd? Understand how you can add value to your offers and services.

96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however, 91% of them will simply leave and never come back.

Increasing customer happiness leads to a higher customer lifetime value and diminishes negative word-of-mouth. And although customer satisfaction is an essential objective, it’s often poorly represented in the metrics you track. That’s simply because it’s not as straightforward as, let’s say, measuring website traffic or profits.

Yet measuring customer satisfaction doesn’t have to be hard. Experiment with the following methods to help you make headway.

What do you mean?

  • Customer retention: retaining customers with a focus on customer loyalty
  • Churn: customers who cut ties with your business
  • Customer lifetime value: predicting the net profit a customer is likely to generate

1. Customer satisfaction surveys

Short customer satisfaction surveys are a good outset for collecting customer satisfaction data: low effort for the customer, yet very valuable to you. The main question here is: ‘How would you rate your satisfaction with our company?’ Using one or more of the following approaches will ensure you get useful answers:

  • Web surveys: Want to use a method with a high response rate? Just ask (potential) customers browsing your website one or two short questions. You’re basically asking customers for their opinions while they’re engaged with your company, which is why this works so well.
  • Post-service surveys: Ask customers right after the service how happy they are, e.g. with a delivery or a repair. Of course, your customers need to receive this survey as fast as possible: real-time interaction is what makes these kinds of surveys relevant.
  • Long email surveys: If you want to do some extensive brain-picking, you can send your customers an email survey with multiple questions. A downside might be that this method has a low response rate. Typically, only 10 to 15% complete the survey.
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Measuring customer satisfaction starts with talking and listening to the customer. But don’t be tricked into sending out immensely long surveys that ‘only take ten minutes’ to fill in: surveys work best if they’re short, focused and direct.

Try to make your questions as clear and as straightforward as possible. Asking about an ‘experience’ is really vague and can potentially confuse customers or lead to misinterpretations, which will affect the answers.

2. Net Promotor Score (NPS)

With this method, you’re asking the customer: ‘How likely would you recommend our company to a friend or colleague on a scale from 1 to 10?’ Based on their answer, you can categorize your customers.

  • Detractors (1 - 6): Dissatisfied customers, possibly creating negative publicity and harming your brand.
  • Passives (7 - 8): Happy customers in general, but watch out: competition might steal these customers away. In a less catastrophic scenario, they’re still not likely to recommend your product to others.
  • Promoters (9 - 10): These are your sweethearts: your most enthusiastic customers. Hold them dearly, since they’re the ones that want to help your company grow.

With just one question, you can learn a lot about your customers’ happiness - or with low effort, you can attain high results. As the NPS consists of just one short question, you can use it perfectly for web surveys. In European countries, we use the NPS-EU, identifying customers giving scores of 8 to 10 as promoters.

The NPS provides an extra advantage on top of reaching out to dissatisfied customers: leveraging your satisfied customers as well. Truly happy customers could be evangelists, promoting your company and even boosting new sales.

3. Customer Effort Score (CES)

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In trying to delight our customers, we sometimes tend to overlook the obvious. Still, delivering on our company’s most basic promises, like quickly solving a problem, might be the most important factor in increasing customer satisfaction.

That’s why you need a CES or Customer Effort Score. It works like this: customers respond to the question: ‘Did the organisation make it easy for me to handle my issue?’ Proactively improve their experience proactively by providing a convenient, effortless service across the entire customer journey.

Again, timing is of the essence here. Only ask the question right after your customer had the experience with your company - otherwise, it might be forgotten.

Now you know how to measure customer satisfaction. But how can you make sure you’ll have positive results? Simple: try these tips to turn your customers into loyal fans.

Which method should you use?

Use these digital methods to gather answers quickly and create an extra touch point with your customers. Don’t oblige them to fill out any questionnaires - forcing customers to do something makes them unhappy. And you know what happens with unhappy customers ...

Instead, gather positive and negative feedback through a survey that requires little effort and commitment from the customer. Discover why people love your company or why they don’t, what your strong points are and which aren’t.

Don’t focus too much on one method - as you can see, there are a lot of options to measure customer satisfaction and they could all help you to find out how happy your customers really are. Why don’t you try it out yourself?

  • 21/08/2017
  • Last modified on 15/04/2024

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