When thinking about generating customer loyalty today, think of how it used to be much easier. A farmer out on the prairie got a catalog from Sears-Roebuck, the only seller shipping goods from out east. The farmer had two choices: be loyal to Sears, or make their own tractor. There wasn’t much of a choice.
Obviously, that’s different now. If a customer searches for shoes, they’ll be targeted with shoe ads by 100 different companies. They can’t scroll without being bombarded by choice. That makes generating loyalty, quickly and sustainably a must for every business. How do you do that?
You increase customer loyalty by improving customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is the goal of every business. Finding CSAT solutions that provide long-term improvement to the customer experience helps build loyalty in an era of unprecedented choice and remarkable consumer power.
Finding these CSAT solutions does more than help the customer – they help your customer-facing employees feel more confident, more rewarded, and with more ability to help customers. It is a positive feedback loop that can only boost your business.
Remember: CSAT scores are not an endpoint. For your customers, they indicate a continuum of loyalty. For your employees, they are a spur for improvement. CSAT scores are a measure of everything you’re doing right, and everything that you can keep doing better.
Understanding CSAT Scores
CSAT scores are a quick and thorough way to measure customer satisfaction across the entire customer experience. They are simple, quick, and while imperfect, an excellent way to understand how your customers feel about their interactions with your people.
These work by giving a customer a short survey, usually with questions that have answers indicating a scale of satisfaction.
Let’s take a simple example, one that you probably encounter whenever you go out to get a cup of coffee. When paying with a card, the screen might give you a quick question: “How satisfied were you with your experience today?” A typical screen will give you these type of answers:
- Very Dissatisfied
- Somewhat Dissatisfied
- Somewhat Satisfied
- Very Satisfied
You enter your score. You are very satisfied. The customer behind you enters theirs, they are somewhat satisfied. The day goes on, with some customers extremely happy, some pretty unhappy, and everywhere in between.
At the end of the day, the business can analyze the scores. In the interest of easy math, we can say that the total score was 400, with 100 total customers. It was a good day for round numbers. That means they average a 4.0 CSAT score. Their customers are, on average, Somewhat Satisfied.
That’s the basic math for CSAT. You set your metrics, and take your total score divided by number of customers taking the survey.
You can get more nuanced by having more than five options, and you can ask more questions. For example, you can ask “How would you rate your service today?” with a scale of 1-10, 10 being most satisfied. But the underlying math is always going to be the same.
The great thing about CSAT is that you can do a quick survey after every touchpoint, and not just at the end. That way, you can measure a customer’s satisfaction at multiple stages and have a better understanding of what is working and what isn’t.
Tip #1: Lower the barrier to completion. It’s tempting to ask a lot of questions in order to truly parse the nuances of the customer experience. But too long a survey and people bypass it. It’s usually better to have a large sample size than a smaller one.
What’s a Good Customer Satisfaction Rate?
In our example above, the coffee shop customers were “Somewhat Satisfied.” That seems…well, it doesn’t seem particularly glowing. But it actually is! See, at the heart of CSAT, you want to know if people are overall satisfied or dissatisfied.
In general, having 75% of your customers satisfied is good. Moving up to 80% is excellent – which means the coffee shop was doing really well. But it is important to note that benchmark scores vary by industry.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index released a CSAT benchmark study comparing CSAT benchmarks across industries. Breweries topped the list at 81, Apparel and Full-Service Restaurants rolled in with 79, with credit unions, banks, travel agencies, and others moving in the mid-70s.
So there isn’t a huge range of what is considered good. But that leads to a lot of opportunities.
Tip #2: There are a lot of factors impacting CSAT. Bad days. Long lines. The normal frustration of trying to get something done. There are a lot of reasons why customers leave less-than-glowing reviews. Some of this is on you and your team, but some of it is out of your control. That’s why having everyone be Very Satisfied is wonderful, but Somewhat is reasonable and should be rewarded.
Building Loyalty: Why CSAT Matters
Customer loyalty is an amazing thing. You might think that the era of customer loyalty is going away, but that isn’t true. According to Zendesk, 72% of global customers feel loyalty toward at least one brand or company. What’s more, 6 out of 10 Americans say that if they are loyal to a brand, they are loyal for life. That might be dramatic and is probably not a blood-oath level of commitment, but earning loyalty is still a positive long-term goal.
What makes a customer loyal to a brand or a product? Price is the first and foremost factor, unsurprisingly. But customer service – the heart of the customer experience – is nearly as important. Good customer experiences help create loyalty, regardless of price. And a bad experience can leave you with consumer deleting or scrolling past your amazing offers.
Needless to say, you want your customer satisfied. And that means finding ways to continually improve your CSAT scores.
Tip #3: Never assume loyalty. We all want our customers to be loyal for life. But remember they don’t have any ACTUAL loyalty to a brand, just positive connotations reinforced by continual positive experiences. When brands take loyalty for granted, they stop investing in customer service. And that’s when loyalty disappears.
CSAT Solutions to Improve the Customer Experience
There are a lot of ways that companies try to improve their CSAT. Easier ordering experiences. Better reward programs. Faster fulfillment times. Discounts and deals. Automation makes everything go more smoothly. These are all effective, depending on the industry and the quality of execution, but there is one universal for improving customer satisfaction – improving customer service.
At the end of the day, your customers are probably going to talk to a human being. Their CSAT responses are going to take a lot into account.
- Did the agent seem empathetic to their problems?
- Did they provide a clear path toward resolution?
- Were they able to answer questions in a timely manner?
- Did the agent truly seem to value the customer’s time?
That means that, regardless of your technology, the human experience is one of the most important factors in CSAT. What a customer-facing business needs to do is give their customer-facing employees the power to solve problems.
Improving your customer service agent performance means:
- Providing best-in-class training. Repeated action and consistent process in a non-pressure environment can help CSAs feel confident in high-pressure situations. That’s the heart of active learning.
- Practice active listening. CSAs shouldn’t try to fit customers into a box. They should understand the nuance of the problem and work to solve it.
- Empathy and Patience. You want to be efficient, but trying to hit numbers is useless if the problem isn’t solved. Measuring customer sentiment during interactions is a great way to understand your true CSAT.
What does this boil down to? Practice. That’s not always easy – businesses have to allocate their human capital in an effective and reasonable way. Not everyone has time for effective training. That’s why a blended learning approach, featuring AI Conversation Simulation as part of e-learning, can offer effective real-world situations without draining your human resources.
When employees learn how to actually listen, how to adapt to circumstances that come in the real world, and know how to apply best practices to challenging situations, they can make customers feel more satisfied. They can actually solve problems.
The Positive Loop: What Better CSAT Means For Your Employees
Let’s go back to our coffee shop. Imagine that there were only two baristas working that day instead of the usual three. They were slammed. They worked really hard, but weren’t able to keep up with the lines. People got grouchy, and no one ordered anything easy. One of the baristas was fairly new and couldn’t remember exactly how much foam went in a drink. The score for their day was 2.9. Uh oh! That’s majority not satisfied.
They probably aren’t going to be very happy, or very motivated.
But if they were trained more effectively? If they had the tools to solve the problem? If they felt confident handling the challenges, and that was reflected in customer satisfaction? Well, then they get an emotional reward for their hard work. And that’s great for morale.
CSAT scores are never “good enough.” You always want to get better. And the best way to keep getting better is if your customer-facing workers feel confident in the work they are doing.
Better training means better CSAT. Better CSAT means better revenue and an overall better experience for your employees, who are motivated to keep getting better. It’s a positive feedback loop that generates better customer loyalty. When your people are prepared, customers are going to want to have more experiences.