9 practical ways to improve your CSAT score for customer service ― the right way

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week
chatbot ai success

As a customer service leader, you know the value of happiness. If people are happy with your customer service they stick around for longer and become loyal to your brand. They spend more, buy more often, and recommend you to their friends to help further increase your revenue.

The higher your Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), the happier your customers are likely to be with your service, but how high does it need to be?

To hit a top score, first find out if you’re measuring CSAT for customer service the right way and aiming for the right figure, then discover all the ways you can start making improvements today. Some of these you’ll know and some you won’t, but they’re all practical ways to improve customer service and help better your CSAT score, leaving competition out in the cold.

TL;DR

  • A quick check on the methods you use to measure your success could help your teams directly impact your CSAT score and make sure it’s a reliable metric to inform decisions
  • If you want to know how happy people are with your customer service, make sure your CSAT question is clear, asking about customer service specifically
  • Ask one question that’s clear and brief to encourage more people to respond to it, ask across all channels, and add a qualitative question: ‘Why did you choose this score?”
  • Improve CSAT by setting clear goals, segmenting your audience, personalising experiences, offering self-service, responding to negative feedback and supporting your teams
  • Although your CSAT score is a great indicator of how well you’re doing at giving customers the best experience, try to avoid looking at it in isolation

Are you measuring CSAT for customer service the right way?

If you don’t measure customer satisfaction, you don’t know how satisfied people are with your customer service support or what experience they might have had. You might already know that, but a quick check on the methods you’re using to measure your success could help your teams directly impact your CSAT score and make sure it’s a reliable metric to inform business decisions.

Check you’re asking the right question

Since your CSAT score is quantitative and customers are simply selecting a number from 1-5 (completely dissatisfied through to very satisfied), you’ll want to be sure their response gives you the truest insight.

Row of 5 emoji faces from angry to happy

If you want to know how happy people are with your customer service, make sure your question is clear:

  • “How would you rate us?”
    This could bring in answers that aren’t relevant to your customer service CSAT score at all. Customers might rate your processes, your value for money, an individual customer service agent, or even your brand positioning.
  • “How satisfied are you with the customer service you received today?”
    It’s clear here you’re asking about customer service specifically and the isolated event “today”.

Keep questions to a minimum

Ask lots of questions and people are less likely to want to answer them ― it’ll feel like work, or an effort. So form one question that’s clear and brief to encourage more people to respond to it.

Ask across all channels

If you only use your website to ask for feedback about customer service, you’ll only hear from your web visitors. Mobile visitors using an app might have a wildly different experience. Or if you use WhatsApp to chat with customers, their experience might be different again.

Rapidly improving your omnichannel experience is vital to giving a consistent customer experience and getting to know what your customers want and expect from you, and getting feedback from every channel you use will make your results all the richer.

Be sure on who’s accountable

Once you’re certain you’re asking the right question in all the right places, make sure there’s a team member or group collecting and logging feedback, then putting it forward to whoever’s responsible for acting on it. This way, feedback comes in regularly, so you can benchmark your CSAT score against the average, and consistently track how your service measures up.

A reminder to Ask clearly, Ask 1 question, Ask everywhere, Ask who's listening and taking action, with illustrations

What’s a good CSAT score?

Generally speaking, if 70-80% of your customers reliably say they’re satisfied or very satisfied with the customer service support they’ve received, giving you a four or five on the satisfaction scale, they’re having a good experience and you’re doing well.

The average national CSAT score in the US has stayed somewhere between 70-77% for twenty years, but this will differ by industry, sinking into the sixties or entering the exceptional eighties.

Woman looking at a score of 4 on a device screen, alongside the text

CSAT scores and industry averages

A question about something specific like call centre satisfaction can apply to all industries. For supermarkets in 2023 the average national satisfaction rate for this hit 76%. For airlines, it was higher at 80%. That 4% difference would be an important factor for a grocery chain like Coop Sweden or a travel company to consider when measuring CSAT. So you might also bear the industry average in mind when you start looking at ways to beat it.

9 ways to improve your CSAT score you might not have thought of

Once you know the CSAT score you want to aim for, or even if you’ve already achieved it, you can always keep improving and striving for better. Take a look at our list of actionable ways to get started on making improvements to customer service today.

1. Set clear goals to improve service

If you don’t set goals and measure your progress, you won’t know what you’re aiming for or how far you’ve come. To get started, it helps to use a proven goal-setting framework like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), which involves writing SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. You’re much more likely to improve your CSAT score if you have a clear goal to show how you plan to do it.

Act now: Learn how to set customer service OKRs

2. Know where each customer is on the journey

It’s helpful to know where your customers are in the buyer journey because they’re potentially all having a different experience depending on where they are. People might be happy with your customer service for onboarding, but support after a purchase could be an issue. Segment your audience so you can spot more clearly if there’s a kink in the chain, so you can correct it and improve your overall CSAT score.

Act now: Segment your audience

3. Make requests for feedback appealing

You know asking for feedback is a good thing ― after all, it helps you improve customer service and so improve satisfaction. But for customers, it’s still an ask, no matter how small. So make giving feedback an easy and even enjoyable experience. Ideally, capture feedback in the moment with just a click of a button. You can use emojis or in-jokes if your brand personality supports it, but whatever you choose to do, make it hassle free and thank customers for their time.

Act now: Review your current customer feedback process

4. Meet customers where they are

To make it easy for people to talk to you and tell you about their experience, make space for providing feedback in the places they’re already comfortable with or are familiar using, like social media or messenger platforms where they’re already hanging out with family and friends. This helps people feel more like they’re engaging with a person, not a business, so they can be honest with their feedback giving you greater insight into what parts of your service can improve.

Act now: List all the places where your customers hang out

5. Personalise experiences

It’s important to show customers you’re listening and getting to know their habits and preferences, so their satisfaction can increase. If you don’t already personalise experiences, take what you learn about each customer and engage directly with them to deepen your relationship and improve their overall experience, setting you in good stead for a higher satisfaction score.

Act now: Check what information you currently log

6. Offer self-service

Customers are used to having self-service options and often appreciate the convenience of finding solutions on their own. There are lots of different ways to provide self-service, whether it’s how-to guides, FAQs, knowledge bases, or video tutorials. Most importantly, you should focus on the things customers want help with most often, so they don’t have to wait for answers. The faster they can get answers to their queries and the easier it is, the more satisfied people will be.

Act now: Find out what customers ask about the most

7. Respond gratefully to negative feedback

Knowing companies lose nearly £33.4 billion a year due to customer switching, it’s better to be aware of a problem than not because then you have an opportunity to fix it. Reply to any negative feedback with thanks and, if you can, escalate all negative feedback to a leader so they can go back to the customer to apologise, explain, or tell them how you intend to improve. With dedication and due care, it’s possible to turn around a poor CSAT score and do better.

Act now: Nominate a person or team to respond to negative feedback

8. Speak to different teams internally

You’re improving customer service, but sales, marketing and other departments will all have customer stories to tell that increase your knowledge. Review the real life examples different teams can share about the experience customers have and bring them all together to look for patterns or trends. Knowing how customers experience others areas of your business can help you improve customer service more widely and so push up that CSAT score.

Act now: Ask for internal feedback on customer experience

9. Keep your teams happy

A big part of the customer service agent’s role is to keep customers happy. While they’re doing everything they can to shoot for a high CSAT score for the team, make sure there’s someone looking out for them too. Dealing with complaints or aggravated customers can naturally take its toll on agents and negativity can pass through to customers if everyone’s simply having a bad time. Be sure to report on progress and celebrate every win to keep morale high overall.

Act now: Organise 121s with team members to see how they’re doing

The methods you decide to start working on today are entirely up to you, but it’s important to always put your CSAT score rating into context ― read on to understand why.

Understanding what your CSAT score really means

Your CSAT score is a great indicator of how well you’re doing at giving customers the best experience, but try to avoid looking at it in isolation. From the simplest of reasons like how easy it is for a customer to hit the wrong button when rating you from 1-5, to more complex reasons, like how difficult it can be for people to be truthful if they don’t like to be negative, keep your CSAT score in perspective. It’s always worth taking other measures into account alongside it to strengthen your findings and know with greater certainty where improvements can be made.

Compare CSAT results to other metrics

Negative feedback and a low CSAT score could be down to one problem area and not reflect your customer service as a whole:

  • Is First Contact Resolution low? Customers might be frustrated they frequently have to make contact more than once to get their issue resolved, even though overall service is good.
  • Do you have depressingly long Average Wait Times for calls, yet customers using live chat are ecstatic with getting prompt answers?
  • What is your Customer Effort Score? Customers might well be happy with the overall service, but feel they have to go to a lot of effort to get the excellent outcome they come away with.
  • How does your CSAT score compare to your Net Promoter Score (NPS)? If NPS is high and customers are happy to recommend you to other people, a lower than average CSAT score might not be all bad news and a reaction to one small part of your service you can easily fix.

4 illustrations showing First Contact Resolution too low (person inspecting chart), Average wait time too long (sand timer), Customer effort score too high (man raising arms) and Net promoter score doing well (megaphone)

Dig deeper into all the customer data you have for a better chance of working out which specific parts of your customer service support experience are influencing the CSAT score you get.

Ask for a qualitative answer

Working solely from a quantitative answer to a question can limit your knowledge of what’s really going on with your customer satisfaction score. You might have asked for feedback too late and your customer plumped for a neutral CSAT rating because they couldn’t remember the detail. Or maybe your customer was having a particularly bad day and took it out on you, or ― on the contrary, simply wanted to do a good deed and score your service high.

To dig a little deeper, you can add a second part to your feedback question asking a customer why they’ve given the rating they have. Give customers freedom to express how they feel about your experience and you can get a better insight into why your CSAT score is what it is.

Chat window showing AI assistant asking

Every organisation is different and there will be a wide range of reasons why your CSAT score is high, low, or distinctly average. Get as broad a view as possible of what customers have to tell you and it’ll be far easier to detect problem areas to make improvements.

Use AI automation to improve your CSAT score faster

Using AI can help you achieve your improvement goals faster and easier by communicating more often with customers ― at scale and with greater accuracy, while storing an infinite amount of customer information to satisfy their needs and preferences.

Rapidly improve customer experience using AI

  • Automating answers to routine customer queries gives your customer service teams more time to focus on hitting their wider customer service goals.
  • Using an advanced AI assistant, you can ask customers for feedback right there in the moment at the end of every customer service interaction.
  • Use one AI assistant across multiple channels for a smooth omnichannel experience and to get consistent feedback from every touchpoint.
  • Instantly retrieve preferences for every individual customer ― even if you have tens of thousands of them, so you can personalise every interaction.
  • Get to know what your customers need the most help with and automate the process so they can self-serve to get instant answers any time of the day or night.
  • Using AI and automation can help you in ways you might not even think are possible, like achieving empathy in customer service.

When Barking and Dagenham Council launched an AI assistant to help their customer service team with everything from reporting missed bin collections to parking fines and registering a birth, customer satisfaction shot up by 67%. There’s nothing to stop you from doing the same.

FAQs

How do you measure CSAT?
CSAT is a metric that measures how happy customers are with a product or service. It’s calculated by asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale, usually from 1 to 5. The percentage of customers who choose the highest ratings (4 or 5) is the CSAT score. For example, if 80 out of 100 customers give a 4 or 5, the CSAT score is 80%.
Why is your CSAT score so important?
Your CSAT score is important because it tells you how satisfied customers are with your product or service. A high CSAT score means your customers are happy and loyal, which can lead to more revenue and referrals. A low CSAT score means your customers are unhappy and may switch to competitors, which can hurt your business. By measuring CSAT, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your customer experience and make improvements based on feedback.
What’s the fastest way to improve your CSAT score?
Some of the fastest ways to improve your CSAT score is to start personalising services if you don’t already, offer customers self-service too, create a seamless omnichannel experience, get instant AI-driven feedback, and offer real time engagement.
What causes low CSAT scores?
Low CSAT scores are caused by various factors that affect the customer experience. Some of the common drivers of low CSAT are poor communication, lack of personalisation, product issues, and poor customer service frustrations. These factors can lead to customer dissatisfaction, frustration, and churn. To improve CSAT scores, it’s important to understand the root cause of poor customer experience and address it with the right solution.