Everything You Need to Know About a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score

Giving your customers an excellent experience can do a world of good for your CSAT score. If you’re unsatisfied with your scores or need to develop a CSAT system for your international business, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about this important KPI, including how to calculate it and improve upon it to boost your operations and customer lifetime value. 

Everything You Need to Know About CSAT Score

If you’re working to improve the customer experience, one of the most basic metrics you should examine is your company’s customer satisfaction score. Often known by the acronym CSAT, a customer satisfaction score is a simple measure of how satisfied your customers are after interacting with your business. Whether they’re purchasing a product or service, calling in for support, or submitting a complaint, knowing how satisfied they are after your team interacts with them can yield plenty of insight into the efficacy of your business model, the capability of your technology, and the skill set of your staff. 

A poor CSAT score is a risk that no customer experience (CX) leader should take. This crucial call center KPI can help businesses make smart, data-driven decisions that can lead to long-term customer retention. Improving your business’s CSAT is all in the details. Read on for a primer about what customer satisfaction score is, how to calculate it, and how to use it as a tool for improving your operations.

What is a CSAT Score?

A customer satisfaction score (CSAT) measures how happy customers are with a recent purchase or experience they’ve had with your business. It employs a single question, such as “How satisfied are you with your experience today?” and an answer scale, such as 1-3, 1-5, 1-10, or Yes/No. CSAT scores are always tightly defined and close-ended, so you can easily calculate and act on them quickly.

Some examples of CSAT questions and answer types include:

  •  Did we meet your expectations today?
    • 3-point scale: below expectations, met expectations, exceeded expectations
    • Yes or No  
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your experience today?
    • 1 = terrible, 2-3 = bad, 4-5 = okay, 6-7 = good, 8-9 = great, 10 = excellent 
  • On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with our services today?
    • 1 star = poor, 2 stars = below average, 3 stars = average, 4 stars = above average, 5 stars = excellent

Notice that there’s an emphasis on the business/customer interaction that just happened. CSAT surveys are meant to measure immediate or short-term satisfaction. They’re often given after an interaction is completed. If you’ve ever seen an online pop-up window asking how satisfied you are with a recent purchase, or walked past an iPad on a stand at an exit asking you to press a sad, neutral, or happy face to rate your in-store experience, you’ve seen CSAT surveys in action. 

Why do businesses employ CSAT surveys? Measuring customer satisfaction is essential to any business. You can have a high-performing product or service, but if people don’t like interacting with your employees they will sacrifice their love of your offering and go elsewhere. Zendesk reports that 82% of Americans have stopped patronizing a business because of bad customer service. So, CSAT is a key performance indicator you should closely monitor and improve upon, or you’ll risk losing customers.

Luckily, it’s relatively easy to track CSAT, because this KPI typically involves just one question and has a high response rate. Plenty of people will take the time to answer one quick question after interacting with a company. CSAT is also easy to calculate. We’ll get into how to calculate CSAT later, but if you’ve passed middle school math, you’ll ace the equation!

There are a couple of drawbacks to collecting CSAT scores that you’ll want to keep in mind. CSAT surveys generally are subject to biased responses. You could get skewed negative or positive results because your neutral customers (also called, passives) may be less inclined to take the survey compared to those who had a bad experience (detractors) and excellent experience (promoters). 

With these cons of CSAT scores in mind, your company must develop a more robust picture of customer satisfaction by using two other popular customer satisfaction metrics: Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES). Similar to CSAT, NPS and CES are also one-question surveys that measure how customers feel about your business or product. They differ from CSAT in what they measure: NPS measures long-term customer loyalty to a business or product by asking how likely a customer is to recommend the business to a friend. CES gauges the process or ease of interacting with your business with questions such as, “Do you agree that it is easy to resolve an issue with our products?” 

Additionally, you should explore using qualitative data tools and analysis to evaluate why people feel the way they do about your business. Statistics can only tell so much of the customer experience story. Giving your clients a way to tell you their perceptions of your operations in their own words will give you in-depth opinions, themes, and insights you won’t find from one-question surveys. Qualitative data will also confirm the general validity of your CSAT (and NPS and CES) scores, or indicate that something in your polling is off if customers’ first-hand testimonials don’t align with the numbers.  

Calculating CSAT

Ready to start measuring your customers’ satisfaction with your business? First, you’ll need to know exactly how to frame your customer satisfaction question to obtain value feedback. Your questions need to be thought-provoking to engage the customer. Whatever your customer satisfaction survey may be, consider asking questions around product usage, psychographics (the customer’s behavior/preferences), sales or service experience, and even open-text questions to really dig up details. 

Then, you’ll need to know how to calculate the scores you collect. 

Basic CSAT Score Calculation

Find your CSAT score by dividing the total number of positive responses by the total number of responses. In other words:

CSAT Score = (satisfied customers / total customers asked) x 100

For example, if you have 20 total responses and 15 of them are positive, your CSAT score is... (15 ÷ 20) x 100% = 75%

That’s the basic CSAT score calculation. There are a few other ways to calculate CSAT scores: the average score, the happy/unhappy score, and the star rating score. Let’s briefly explore all three.

Calculating Average CSAT Scores

If you’re using a scale to measure responses such as 1-3, 1-5, or 1-10, you’ll want to calculate average CSAT scores with this method:

Average CSAT Score = (sum of all scores ÷ sum of the maximum possible scores) x 100

For example, say you asked 5 customers this question: “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your service today?” and they offered the following ratings:


Customer Score Maximum Score
Customer 1 5 10
Customer 2 8 10
Customer 3 7 10
Customer 4 9 10
Customer 5 3 10
Total 32 50

You add your customers’ scores (32) and divide by the total possible score from their collective answers (50) and multiply that quotient by 100 to get a percentage:

(32 ÷ 50) x 100 = 64%

In this example, your company has a CSAT score of 64%. The range of scores should prompt your team to investigate what they can do to increase those low scores while examining (and replicating) what went right with the high scores. 

Calculating Happy/Unhappy Scores

If you want to give customers a visual way of rating your services and team, you could ask customers to rate their experience by clicking or tapping on one of three smiley faces like the ones pictured here. This kind of CSAT system reduces the effort required by the respondent and gives your company a very quick, easy-to-interpret picture of how others feel about your customer service.

To calculate a CSAT score based on smiley faces, use this equation:

Smiley CSAT Score = ((number of happy faces selected) ÷ (total number of faces selected)) x 100

For example, if you have 50 customers take your smiley survey and 30 tap the happy smiley, your CSAT score is:

(30 ÷ 50) x 100 = 60%

Calculating Star CSAT Ratings

Everyone from Amazon to Yelp uses star ratings to measure customer satisfaction with a seller or business. They're a great CSAT system because people recognize them and know how to interpret them. They offer similar nuance as the average CSAT calculation method but are visual like the happy face rating system, too. 

Calculate an overall star rating for your company by dividing the number of stars given by the total number of stars you could have earned from those ratings:

Star CSAT Score = (number of stars awarded ÷ sum of the total possible stars) x 5

Notice that in this system we’re not multiplying by 100 because we’re not aiming for a percentage. Our scale is one to five stars, so we’re looking for a score that is somewhere between one and five. 

An example: Let’s say five customers give you star ratings as recorded below:

Customer Stars Given Maximum Stars
Customer 1 5 5
Customer 2 5 5
Customer 3 3 5
Customer 4 4 5
Customer 5 1 5
Total 18 25

Your company’s star CSAT score is (18 ÷ 25) x 5 = 3.6.

Helpful Tips When Calculating CSAT Score

Calculating a CSAT score should seem pretty straightforward so far. But there are a few nuances to be aware of when evaluating your scores and thus, the level of customer service your team provides.

The first detail that deserves closer examination is what constitutes a positive score? If you’re using the basic happy/unhappy scale, it’s pretty easy to determine which one is positive and which one is negative. But what if you’re using a numerical point scale? Is 7 a positive score? What about 6? Part of the answer will depend on the threshold for excellent customer service that your team sets. You can also look to others’ CSAT programs to see what they define as a base-level positive score.

Another detail to consider when calculating your CSAT score is which scores to include when calculating CSAT. A CSAT score measures short-term customer satisfaction. So, a relatively narrow timeframe is always used, such as the past 7 days or the past 72 hours. But where do you start that timeframe? Is it on a rolling, hourly basis? This may seem like a minor detail, but when you’re looking for an accurate picture of how recent customer experiences have played out, this is important - especially if your employees’ pay depends in part on these scores. 

Furthermore, your company must decide if your CSAT calculations will include tickets created within your timeframe, or tickets that you have closed out and the customer has evaluated. You could have a ticket created, resolved, and evaluated within a week, of course. But some customer interactions aren’t resolved within a week, for good or bad reasons. Sometimes a ticket resolution takes longer than it should. But sometimes it takes longer than a week to come up with a satisfactory solution for a customer, and there is the potential that they will understand and walk away as a happy, still-loyal patron of your business. How you define your CSAT evaluation period and which tickets you include are up to you, but it’s worth thinking through these intricacies before embarking on a CSAT plan.

CSAT Benchmarks & Industry Standards

At this point, you’re probably wondering, what’s a good CSAT score? This answer changes dramatically depending on the industry, region, company size, and other factors. A good CSAT score will depend upon your situation. 

If you still want some benchmark goals to aim for, know that it’s widely accepted that a baseline “good” CSAT score is 80%. Across the world and industries, Zendesk estimates that the average global customer satisfaction score is 86%. For more granular data, check out the industry-based customer satisfaction benchmarks the American Customer Satisfaction Index publishes. For a more global view, Zendesk offers CSAT benchmarks by industry for major world regions.

You could also consider a CSAT score good if you’ve been working hard to improve it, and your numbers show that. CSAT scores highly depend upon your company’s industry, location, resource capabilities, and individual team members. If you started out very low and are in more of a neutral place at the moment thanks to improved technology, better industry practices, and good ol’ hard work on behalf of your team, that’s something to celebrate! 

Benefits of Improving Your Call Center’s CSAT Score

There are several benefits to focusing on your call center’s CSAT score. When you improve the customer experience by offering more self-service options, your clients end their interaction feeling more empowered and more likely to do business with you again. This reduces your churn rate. It also increases their customer lifetime value. When they know they can have a smooth transaction with you, even if that transaction involves a momentary setback that your team quickly resolves, they will purchase from you again, and likely at a higher spend - Bain & Company estimates that repeat customers spend 67% more than first-time customers. 

They’ll also tell their friends and family about the good experience they had with you. Satisfied customers are vocal brand advocates. Their positive word-of-mouth can help you get new customers, and expand your reach into new target markets. The moral of this story? Help customers help themselves and they’ll be your biggest advocates while continuing to be loyal, profitable patrons.

Actionable Ways to Increase Your CSAT Score

So what do you do to bump your CSAT score? Here are 10 suggestions for increasing your CSAT score:

1. Understand Customer Psychology

Know what customers want when they call. Make them feel valued, listened to, and cared for regarding their inquiry. Customer etiquette is of utmost importance when operating a call center. Use positive words and phrases. Actively listen to customers, and be transparent about what you can and cannot do for them. Thank them for calling and for their support. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

2. Be Where Your Customers Are

Offer multiple ways for customers to reach you. Match your capabilities to the ways they want to reach you. This means provisioning omnichannel support through phone, email, chat, online portals, messenger platforms, social media, and in-person interactions, if possible.

3. Reduce Response Times

No one likes to be on the phone with customer support for hours. Invest in communication systems that reduce response times, reduce the number of customer interactions, and optimize call routing so that inbound callers get to a resolution quicker.

4. Empower Customers to Help Themselves

Offer self-service portals and tools for customers who want to resolve an issue or complete a transaction on their own accord. In today’s digital world, people are often satisfied with self-guided tutorials, videos, FAQs, and written documentation that save them time. With these how-to guides on your website, your agents are freed up to handle more complex questions. 

5. Offer Real-Time Assistance

Sometimes, customers just want real-time assistance and a human guiding them through the process. Offer this through phone calls, video, or live chat online. Live tools can offer faster resolution and first-time contact resolution rates. Customers enjoy the personalized communication they get from real-time assistance. Your team can set the tone for their customer journey as well. From awareness to repeat purchases, your team can guide their information-gathering process and help them make decisions about your offerings in a way that customizes their experience and improves their satisfaction with your business.

6. Build a Customer Community

Aberdeen Research reports that businesses that host online communities see their CSAT scores increase by a magnitude of 5.4. That’s huge! An online community can be as simple as a LinkedIn Group or a white-label message board. Giving your customers a dedicated space to exchange product uses, offer product feedback, ask questions, and make connections will result in happier customers because they’ll feel like they’re part of a community centered on them and their interests. A customer community can result in better customer retention and increased product usage as well. 

7. Empower Your Team

Give your team members the authority to do what is needed to adequately support customers in a timely fashion. If you want your team to excel at customer service, don’t micromanage them. Give them the tech, the budget, and the incentives to delight customers and keep them coming back. It will be money well spent.

8. Pay Attention to Negative Reviews

Why? Because potential customers are reading these reviews long before they reach out to your business! It’s commonly accepted that 67% of a potential customer’s purchasing journey takes place before they reach out to your company. Thanks to online review sites, personal blogs, and social media, people can research an astonishing amount of information and opinions about your offerings without having to talk with you directly. It’s in your best interest to analyze negative reviews and act on common themes that surface. It’s also important to respond to such reviews and let the author know that you’re listening and resolving the pain points that led to their complaint so that they — and others watching — know you’re a company that is always trying to improve.

9. Regularly Measure Customer Satisfaction

How customers feel about your business is constantly changing. As we’ve stated before, your CSAT score is a short-term measure. So you must be constantly paying attention to it and noting any new problem areas that you need to address. Knowing what to improve at any given moment will help you maintain a high-performing team at all levels and in all departments. Staying on top of your CSAT score will improve the actual customer experience as well, resulting in lower customer churn and higher customer lifetime value.

Knowing how to run a CSAT system is a valuable skill that will help your call center improve its processes and increase customer satisfaction. When customers are happy, your team will find more satisfaction in their work. There are several factors to consider when mounting a CSAT system, so be sure to take your time considering all applicable factors and how you want to measure them. An accurate, reliable CSAT score will yield many insights into how you can improve your business further and achieve your ultimate goals of increasing customer loyalty, expanding your target market, and increasing your bottom line. 

Improve CSAT for Greater Customer Lifetime Value

When you’re looking to improve your customer satisfaction score, lean on a modern cloud communications system that can streamline efficiency and productivity to keep your customers happy. A great CSAT score can drive revenue opportunities for your business. As more and more customers are satisfied with your brand, the more likely they are to remain loyal. 

If you’re unsure of where to begin with improving your customer experience (and your CSAT score), speak with an AVOXI representative. We offer a full suite of voice and contact center tools that help global businesses deliver a superior customer experience, every time, no matter the location. 

Drive a Better CSAT Score with Modern Cloud Communications

Listening to and acting on what your customers say can benefit your international business. With AVOXI’s award-winning platform, CX leaders can improve their CSAT score and leave customers feeling happy with every interaction using feature-rich technology and reliable phone numbers that boost the quality of the conversations.