How to Develop an Effective Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Program


Customer satisfaction is paramount for any business, and ultimately not just a measure of the success of your product or service today, but an indicator of future success too. Which is why businesses around the world are laying an increasing emphasis on building strong Customer Satisfaction Programs or CSAT programs, to stay tuned in to their customer’s needs.

CSAT programs that work often have some best practices in play, besides a host of features tailored to their specific industry. Broadly however, there are some things that stay constant across sectors. Here’s a look at how your organization can build a strong CSAT program that transcends the limitations of traditional customer satisfaction surveys to offer insights that are actionable and can make a real difference.

Take a holistic approach: Leverage NPS, and VoE, not just VoC

Stand-alone customer satisfaction measurements don’t give business owners a 360 degree view on things. On the other hand, if you were to also factor in information gleaned from Net Promoter Scores, and Voice of Employee surveys, and then put the Voice of Customer surveys in the context of these insights, you will be better placed to come to a strategy that is sustainable and delivers results.

Listen both internally, as well as externally

Otherwise, sound CSAT programs sometimes fail because they restrict themselves to looking just externally. It is important also to monitor and capture data from various departments internally, and the touch points externally.

Make the most of data across channels

Successful VoC programs usually leverage all the data they have available, and then some. With multiple touch points with the customer, data is generated in volumes every single day. Connect the dots by looking at data coming in across channels, and feedback that you get on multiple fronts.

Make Monitoring central to your CSAT program

Don’t wait for surveys to get a sense of what customers want. Continuously monitor customer behavior, transactions, feedback and other inputs to see how your results change with time. That way, you will be able to immediately track areas that need attention, as well as those that are succeeding more than others. It will also trigger red flags and potential problem areas before they blow up into bigger issues or service breakdowns.

Get accurate actionable responses: a checklist

When you run a customer satisfaction survey, you need to be sure you can count on the results you get. There are some basic hygiene factors to ensure your survey holds up to. Beyond this, there are also some that are ‘nice to do’, but could improve responses to future interactions. Here is a roundup of some best practices:

  • Get an understanding of your audience and their behavior before you connect. Know who you are connecting with, and pick the right customers to speak to.
  • Pick the right medium. If your customer tend to be more comfortable online, an internet based survey is good, if they prefer to speak with someone directly – then the telephonic medium works better.
  • Ensure that your tone is respectful – this is something they are doing for you.
  • Avoid a question overload. Pare down your questions to the core ones that will really make a difference and be translatable to actions for the business to take.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t have long-winded questions that confuse the reader. Test it out on a layperson to see how they react to it before you send it to customers.
  • Consider what responses the question could evoke. Are the answers going to be useful? If not, rephrase till you get to the heart of what you really need to know.
  • Lastly, acknowledge their help with a simple thank you note or email, or perhaps even a discount or voucher that can be redeemed against future purchases.

Act on the insights to retain customers

It isn’t enough to just gather this information, the team will need to come together to work out an action plan including some immediate changes to put in place right away. The ultimate goal of any good CSAT program is to give customers what they want, so they keep returning for more.

Act on both positive and negative feedback. Translate the individual feedback into aggregate level changes that might be needed. That way, you will be taking action not just at an individual customer level, but also using that for strategic planning. You could for instance, use the CSAT learning and apply the insights to build a better advocacy or referral program.

Connect your CSAT program to your CRM

This kind of loyalty and return purchase behavior is much more likely if a customer feels like the feedback they shared has been given its due. Many successful hotel brands for instance, might gather feedback through surveys and other touch points and use that to update their CRM system so that each customer gets personalized service, or the feeling that their comments were taken seriously and applied to making a change.