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How to measure customer satisfaction: 4 key metrics

7 min read
Customer satisfaction is about more than just minimising complaints. Here’s an introduction to the subject, along with 4 key customer satisfaction measurements that are critical to your business success.

What is customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction may be best understood in terms of customer experience. Customer experience (or CX) is the total sum of a customer’s perceptions, interactions and thoughts about your business. If the customer has a generally positive experience, they can be considered satisfied.

So it follows that customer satisfaction is a composite of many different aspects, and it is likely to change over time. Customers may be satisfied on one occasion but not the next, or they may gradually become more satisfied despite an indifferent starting point. For this reason, it’s important to measure customer satisfaction continually, using a range of metrics that capture its different facets.

Why does customer satisfaction matter?

Most of us have an intuitive sense of why customer satisfaction is important based on our own experiences. If we’re unhappy in our dealings with a business we’re likely to stop giving them our trade.

For a company, customer satisfaction has deeper and more far-reaching implications. Over time, customers who have repeated positive experiences are more likely to become loyal to not only our products and premises, but to our brand as a whole. Customers who develop attitudinal brand loyalty – that is, they have a positive emotional connection to a brand – have been shown to be less price sensitive than their less-loyal counterparts. They’re also more likely to convert when they buy from you.

Highly satisfied customers are also likely to tell friends and family about their experiences and to promote your brand. This is one good reason to aim for a level of customer experience that exceeds rather than simply meets expectations. A highly positive experience is much more likely to turn customers into promoters than an interaction that simply gets the job done.

According to Mckinsey, you can see the impact improved satisfaction can make below:

CSAT Business Impact GIF


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4 key customer satisfaction metrics

So how do we effectively measure customer satisfaction?

Here are 4 key customer satisfaction measurements that are critical to your business success. They take into account the different dimensions of customer satisfaction, such as affective (emotional) and cognitive (rationally judged) reactions to a product or service and behavioural intentions (such as likelihood to recommend or repurchase) as well as taking overall scores of satisfaction as judged by the respondents.

1. Overall Satisfaction Measure (Attitudinal)

Example question: Overall, how satisfied are you with “La Jolla Grove restaurant”?

This question reflects the overall opinion of a consumer’s satisfaction experience with a product he or she has used.

The single greatest predictors of customer satisfaction are the customer experiences that result in attributions of quality.

Perceived quality is often measured in one of three contexts:

  • Overall quality
  • Perceived reliability
  • Extent of customer’s needs fulfilled

It is commonly believed that dissatisfaction is synonymous with purchase regret while satisfaction is linked to positive ideas such as “it was a good choice” or “I am glad that I bought it.”

2. Loyalty Measurement (Affective, Behavioural)

Example question:

Would you recommend “La Jolla Grove restaurant” to your family and friends?

This single question measure is the core NPS (Net Promoter Score) measure.

Customer loyalty reflects the likelihood of repurchasing products or services. Customer satisfaction is a major predictor of repurchase but is strongly influenced by explicit performance evaluations of product performance, quality, and value.

Loyalty is often measured as a combination of measures including overall satisfaction, likelihood of repurchase, and likelihood of recommending the brand to a friend.

A common measure of loyalty might be the sum of scores for the following three questions:

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with [brand]?
  • How likely are you to continue to choose/repurchase [brand]?
  • How likely are you to recommend [brand] to a friend or family member?

3. A series of Attribute Satisfaction Measurements (Affective and Cognitive)

Example question: How satisfied are you with the “taste” of your entre at La Jolla Grove?

Example question: How important is “taste” in your decision to select La Jolla Grove restaurant?

Affect (liking/disliking) is best measured in the context of product attributes or benefits. Customer satisfaction is influenced by perceived quality of product and service attributes, and is moderated by expectations of the product or service. The researcher must define and develop measures for each attribute that is important for customer satisfaction.

Consumer attitudes toward a product developed as a result of product information or any experience with the product, whether perceived or real.

Again, it may be meaningful to measure attitudes towards a product or service that a consumer has never used, but it is not meaningful to measure satisfaction when a product or service has not been used.

Cognition refers to judgment: the product was useful (or not useful); fit the situation (or did not fit); exceeded the requirements of the problem/situation (or did not exceed); or was an important part of the product experience (or was unimportant).

Judgments are often specific to the intended use application and use occasion for which the product is purchased, regardless if that use is correct or incorrect.

Affect and satisfaction are closely related concepts. The distinction is that satisfaction is “post experience” and represents the emotional effect produced by the product’s quality or value.

4. Intentions to Repurchase Measurements (Behavioural Measures)

Example question: Do you intend to return to the La Jolla Grove restaurant in the next 30 days?

When wording questions about future or hypothetical behaviour, consumers often indicate that “purchasing this product would be a good choice” or “I would be glad to purchase this product.” Behavioral measures also reflect the consumer’s past experience with customer service representatives.

Satisfaction can influence other post-purchase/post-experience actions like communicating to others through word of mouth and social networks.

Additional post-experience actions might reflect heightened levels of product involvement that in turn result in increased search for the product or information, reduced trial of alternative products, and even changes in preferences for shopping locations and choice behavior.

Tools to measure customer satisfaction

We know that customer satisfaction is complex and ever-changing, and that as a result it’s important to take frequent measurements across a range of metrics in order to get the most accurate picture possible. But how do you keep track of all those measurements, and how do you analyse them relative to one another to end up with actionable insights?

We recommend taking an ongoing approach to customer satisfaction, along with other metrics, as part of a broader customer experience programme. By measuring and analysing your customer satisfaction metrics within a single platform such as Qualtrics XM, you’ll not only benefit from powerful analytic tools and easy-to-interpret results, you’ll also be able to integrate your findings with other elements of your customer experience data.

Get started with our free CSAT survey template