How to Measure Customer Satisfaction at Your Call Center

How to Measure Customer Satisfaction at Your Call Center

That Marketing 101 class you took in college no doubt told you that marketing is the province of the 4Ps: that Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (distribution) are the factors a company must use to promote its brand and its unique selling proposition (USP). The professor probably pointed out that if a firm watched over those four factors, they’d somehow realize success, growth, and greater profits. Now though, savvy 21st-century marketers have discovered a new approach to success, and it’s all about the customer experience (CX).

Today, most CEOs would instantly agree that a customer’s experience dealing with the company directly affects his or her perception of the company, and that poor perceptions drive a customer’s level of satisfaction downward. On the other hand, positive perceptions lead to more repeat business, more word of mouth buzz, greater lifetime customer value, increased customer loyalty, and a host of benefits that drive more revenue to the bottom line. That understanding has caused companies everywhere to focus on how they can provide the most favorable customer experience. In turn, those efforts have led to various approaches that each try to measure the slippery metric known as “Customer Satisfaction.”

Call centers can dramatically affect customer satisfaction because their agents communicate directly and personally with customers. As a result, call centers need to monitor customer satisfaction and can do so with any of three different measurements.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is a number that’s derived from a survey that generally asks just three to five questions such as, “How satisfied are you with the service we provided?” Customers respond, usually on a scale of one to five.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) chart

Like most measurements that try to measure what happens in the human psyche, using a survey to determine customer satisfaction has inherent limitations.

  • Call center agents sometimes try to influence the customer by asking “Is there any reason you wouldn’t give me a five-star rating?”— which can easily skew the survey.
  • Likewise, some argue that CSAT only measures a customer’s short-term judgment about a specific contact; that CSAT doesn’t tell you anything about the long-term perception your customers hold about your organization.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS measures customers’ willingness to recommend the company, brand, product or service to others. As such, NPS gives a score to the customer’s experience and loyalty. More than two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 use NPS as one of their measurement tools.

Customers are asked, “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend (the company, brand, product, service) to a (friend, colleague, relative, business associate)?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) chart

NPS is calculated by subtracting “Detractors” from the number of “Promoters.” However, NPS has its shortcomings, too.

  • NPS treats Detractors who give a score of zero the same as those who give a score of six, even though such customers likely have vividly different views of the company.
  • One company might find their customers are 60 percent Promoters and 30  percent Detractors while another company scores 30 percent Promoters and 0percent Detractors. Both result in an NPS of +30 despite the stronger profile of the company that has no Detractors.

To mitigate these defects, companies often ask additional questions of Detractors and Passives to uncover specific customer complaints that give call center management the data it needs to correct the shortfalls. The practice of seeking out dissatisfied customers, uncovering their concerns, then fixing them is what gives companies that use NPS so much value.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The Customer Effort Score is a measure of customer loyalty. It measures how much effort a customer must expend to obtain an answer or solution to a problem. Perhaps you’ve seen these variations on a CES survey.

Customer Effort Score (CES) chart

Or, even more simply:

Customer Effort Score (CES) faces

The rationale behind CES holds that customers become loyal when the company helps them solve a problem quickly and easily. The Harvard Business Review in 2010, suggested that “Service organizations create loyal customers primarily by reducing customer effort – i.e., helping them solve their problems quickly and easily – not by delighting them in service interactions.”

Unlike surveys (such as CSAT) that are given periodically, you’ll need to gather CES data immediately after a customer touchpoint. For instance, the customer should receive a CES survey at the close of an interaction with a call center agent.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing these three customer satisfaction metrics further, it becomes clear that each serves a different purpose, and that has led many companies to use all three.

  • CES is most relevant and useful for gauging how a customer feels about a given interaction. For instance, a CES score gathered after talking to a call center agent tends to give that customer’s reaction to that specific call rather than a broader assessment of the company. CES is a “touchpoint” or “transactional” metric that can identify shortfalls in service delivery. Companies can also use CSAT in the same fashion to measure customer feedback following specific interactions.
  • However, companies also use periodic CSAT surveys to measure the customer’s overall satisfaction with the company. When used that way, CSAT is a “relational” metric. Relational metrics can reveal factors that cause customers to become or remain loyal as well as those that cause customers to turn away.
  • NPS surveys can be administered periodically to build trend lines that show how customers perceive your company, product, or service, which makes it an important relational metric. Unlike the other two, customers completing an NPS survey can feel free to comment on any aspect of their relationship with your company. Then, by asking follow up questions such as, “How can we improve?” the company receives even more actionable information.


No single metric can possibly reveal the range of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that flood through the human psyche, but many companies use all three metrics. The key to creating the optimum customer experience and all that promises is not to search for a single “universal”metric that defines customer satisfaction. Instead, it’s a matter of using metrics to explore both transactional and relational issues. Doing so and asking follow up questions will put you on the fast track to achieving your CX goals.

Contact us to learn how Extended Office Systems can help improve your call center operation.

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