car salesman learning how to improve customer satisfaction while working in a showroom

How To Improve Customer Satisfaction

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Customer satisfaction can feel elusive, but it’s essential for brands who want to grow, retain customers and solidify brand loyalty. Not convinced yet? The data speaks for itself:
  • 81% of customers say a positive customer service experience increases the likelihood that they’ll make another purchase.
  • 93% of customers will spend more with companies that offer their preferred method to reach customer service.
  • 61% say they would switch to a company’s competitor after just one bad customer service experience.
Brands who don’t invest in customer satisfaction and improving customer experiences today will be the brands that fall short tomorrow. But if customer satisfaction feels elusive, there’s a lot you can do to measure, improve and implement customer satisfaction improvements. Ultimately, improving customer satisfaction comes down to measuring customer experiences, improving agent support and training, understanding what customers want, and learning to meet and exceed customer expectations. 

Measuring Customer Satisfaction – Which KPIs To Track and Why They Matter

Of course, you can’t improve customer satisfaction regularly and at scale without data. Measuring customer satisfaction can be difficult, but these 5 KPIs are essential for tracking customer experiences and satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction Score, or CSAT

Your Customer Satisfaction Score, or CSAT, is one of the most important and effective ways to quantitatively measure customer satisfaction. CSAT is measured as a percentage between 0% (terrible) to 100% (superb). To collect CSAT data, companies will ask customers—either through a post-purchase or post-service survey, a website popup, or post-phone-call prompt—to rate their satisfaction. You’ve probably received a number of these types of emails yourself after traveling on a plane, purchasing a new item or bringing your laptop in for repairs. The typical scale offers five levels of satisfaction:
  1. Very unsatisfied
  2. Unsatisfied
  3. Neutral
  4. Satisfied
  5. Very satisfied
Once you have collected some data, you can use this formula to determine your percentage of happy customers:
(Number of satisfied customers (answered “satisfied” or “very satisfied”) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers
While CSAT is limited in scope—a customer may have had a good experience with your brand at this moment while not being a loyal customer in general—and depth—you only have a simple scale vs. a more complete understanding of why they feel that way, CSAT is an important quantitative data point to get a bird’s eye view of how satisfied customers are generally. Additionally, CSAT can help you track trends over time or understand customer satisfaction with specific touchpoints in the buyer journey (i.e. calling your support center vs. visiting your store in person).

Net Promoter Score, or NPS

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is another important metric to track when it comes to customer service. While CSAT measures the level of customer satisfaction with regards to a particular purchase or interaction, NPS score measures customer loyalty and brand affinity more generally, or over time. NPS is typically measured via a 1-question survey post-purchase or post-service that asks customers to rank, on a scale of 1-10, how likely it is that they would recommend the product or service they just received to a friend or colleague. Generally, on the 10-point scale, there are three categories of customers:
  • Anyone who answers between a 0 or a 1 (definitely would not recommend) and a 6 (might or might not recommend) is considered a Detractor. 
  • Anyone who answers a 7 or an 8 is considered a Passive.
  • Anyone who answers a 9 or a 10 is considered a Promoter.
Your NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. So, for example, if 20% of your surveyed customers are Detractors and 50% are Promoters, your NPS score would be 30. Measuring and tracking NPS scores over time gives you important insight into your customer loyalty and also your likely brand growth over time. Research suggests that promoters—customers who have had a positive experience with your brand—mention it to an average of nine people, while customers who have had a negative experience (detractors) mention it to an average of sixteen people. We tend to talk more about the things we’re upset about, which means that your negative detractors are an important group to pay attention to and minimize!

Average Handle Time

Average handle time (AHT) measures, well, the average handle time of your customer transactions or interactions. AHT generally takes into account talk time (or chat time, if you’re working via social media or webchat) for a particular customer, any hold time and any other related tasks (pulling up files, making post-call notes) related to the interaction. The handle time for each call or interaction is then divided by the total number of interactions for each agent, or the entire center, for a period of time to determine the average. Although AHT is not directly measuring customer satisfaction, the average speed and duration of customer interactions is a major factor in customer experience. In fact, a recent study showed that 60% of customers stated “being able to resolve my issue quickly” as the most important marker of good customer service. As a result, reducing your AHT often goes a long way in improving customer service and overall satisfaction—especially if your current AHT is higher than average. (For the record, the average AHT is about 6 minutes.)

First Contact Resolution

First contact resolution (FCR) is another essential KPI to measure when considering how to improve customer satisfaction. To understand the connection between FCR and CSAT, simply think back to the last time you needed to call a customer service representative. Perhaps you needed help sorting out a bill, or wanted to get clarity on something that was covered under your plan. When you call, the hope—and really, the expectation—is that your question will be answered and your problem will be resolved by the time you hang up the phone. Of course, that’s not always the case—sometimes the agent is unhelpful, or doesn’t know how to resolve the situation and you have to call back later, or attempt to contact the company through some other means. Or perhaps you have to do some follow-up step, such as filling out a form online or making an appointment with a specialist. Whatever the situation, isn’t it always easiest—and most satisfying—when your problem can be resolved with a “one-and-done” phone call? As a result, tracking FCR as a KPI for your call center team is a must. FCR resolution is usually measured as a simple percentage—the percentage of total calls which were resolved on the first contact. This can be done by the agent, after the call, or by a quick robo-prompt question to the caller asking if their situation was resolved. Alternatively, you can measure the percentage of repeat calls from a single caller over a specific period of time (inferring that repeat calls imply their problem was not resolved initially).

Quality Assurance

Finally, quality assurance is an important qualitative KPI that can give you in-depth and actionable insights into your customer service quality (and, therefore, your expected customer satisfaction). While each of the above KPIs generate measurable quantitative data, tracking quality assurance is a key way to get deeper insights into your customer service and experience. Measuring quality assurance is typically done by having a QA specialist or team lead listen to recorded calls (or review written communication) and assign it a score based on a quantitative rubric. Some call centers benchmarks you can use for quality assurance include categories like friendliness, efficiency, service, or other customer satisfaction metrics. For example, you might measure how quickly the call was resolved, how attentively the agent listened, and so on. After providing a score in each benchmark category based on a defined rubric, the call is then given an overall quality score. Ultimately, the higher the quality of your calls, the higher the quality of customer service—and better customer services means improved customer satisfaction.

Interpreting The Data – Making a Plan to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Of course, determining which metrics to track is just the first piece of the puzzle. After you’ve started tracking and collecting data on your KPIs and customer satisfaction metrics, you need to understand:
  • how to interpret the data you’re collecting, and
  • how to improve customer satisfaction based on the data
Once you’ve started to collect data, you need to make a plan for interpretation and implementation. In this section, we’ll show you how.

How to improve your CSAT score

A “good” CSAT score varies by industry, but generally a CSAT score above 70% is considered good customer satisfaction. A low CSAT score–or a declining CSAT score over time—means that you might need to:
  • improve agent training or call handle practices
  • implement new policies or procedures to reduce handle time or improve FCR
Additionally, declining CSAT over time can point to areas of your business, product features, service or subscription options or other core offerings that may not be meeting customer needs.

How to improve your NPS score

A good NPS score is generally considered anything above zero, although most companies who want to improve customer experience and satisfaction should aim for a score between 30-70. To improve your NPS score, you should:
  • understand and fix pain points. Are there specific areas where customers regularly have negative experiences, or with specific products or services?
  • use NPS feedback for staff training and process enhancements. What do customers regularly provide either positive or negative feedback on?
  • engage with detractors. Turning a bad experience into a good one can significantly improve not only that customer’s experience with your brand, but also the word-of-mouth marketing they provide for your company in the future.
  • leverage promoters. Creating customer loyalty or referral programs can provide a way for promoters to actively engage with your brand and create positive social proof that brings in new customers.

How to improve your average handle time

While the average handle time is around 6 minutes, there’s no strong data that shows that having a lower than average handle time will significantly improve your customer satisfaction overall. However, if your AHT is much longer than average or if your AHT is increasing over time, it may be creating a negative impact on your customer satisfaction. A longer-than-usual AHT may signal that:
  • Customers are calling with more complex concerns requiring more detailed solutions. It’s important to keep in mind that a long handle time is not necessarily bad, if customers are requiring more time to receive the care they need. This is why AHT is important to look at alongside other customer satisfaction metrics.
  • Agents need more training and support. Equipping agents with training on your product as well as clear, concise communication ensures they can answer quickly and confidently.
  • There is a common problem, bug or complaint within your product or service that might be best addressed from a marketing, product or design standpoint.
If handle time is a consistent challenge, you might want to consider improving your omnichannel support and self-service options.

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Although >66% of customers still resolve issues with a company via phone, >91% of customers said they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and relevant to their concerns. When customers have multiple ways to contact your company—or, better yet, can resolve some of their questions on their own through online knowledge bases, chatbots or other self-service options—you can reduce the volume and handle time of many of your calls.

How to improve your FCR

First contact resolution is measured as a percentage. Generally, anything over 70% is considered a good FCR rate. With FCR, most of the improvement comes from the inside, with agent training. Consider the following aspects of your agent training to improve your FCR rate:

  • Are agents knowledgeable? Ongoing training and a thorough knowledge base enable agents to find the information they need to create solutions for customers.
  • Are agents empowered to solve problems independently? Agents who are not empowered to solve problems without layers of approval won’t be able to resolve complaints easily the first time the customer calls.
  • Are agents creative with their solutions? Scripts and general solutions for common problems are extremely helpful tools; but what about when a unique situation presents itself? Agents should be skilled in creative problem-solving and be empowered to use it as needed.

Getting To Work – Implementing a Strategy to Improve Customer Satisfaction

After all of the above steps, you probably have an idea of where to start and what to look for—but the key in improving customer satisfaction is not just determining where your shortcomings lie and how to solve them, but in actually implementing a plan to action them.

These key steps will help you implement your customer satisfaction improvement strategy:

Review all customer communications

Every customer communication—no matter how small!—is a potential data point to be considered, reviewed and analyzed for information about how to better serve your customers and improve their satisfaction with your service or products.

Conversation analytics can be done on a wide scale—using tools and data processing software to analyze every piece of communication—or on a more focused scale, with QA specialists or other leaders analyzing subsets of your communication.

The key is to look for trends and details to give you concrete data to integrate into your strategy for improving customer satisfaction.

Listen to your customers

Beyond the communication that your customers initiate, there’s a variety of other ways to listen to your customers that you should be doing if you want to improve customer satisfaction. After all, how can you ensure your customers are satisfied if you don’t know what it is they really want or care about?

Listening to your customers includes things like:

  • Including brand listening on social media in your strategy.
  • Monitoring pain points and common concerns through customer feedback.
  • Running surveys or focus groups to solicit feedback and concerns from customers.

Monitoring and analyzing solicited and unsolicited feedback and communication from your customers are both important strategies to implement as you seek to improve customer satisfaction. Without these crucial bases, you won’t have the customer insights you need to improve.

Convert customer insights and data into an actionable plan

Once you do have customer insights from communication analysis, brand listening and your overall customer satisfaction metrics and KPIs, you can turn your data into an actionable plan.

Some of your action items might include strengthening or improving KPIs, as listed above, while other action items may be more indefinite. If all of this is new to you, simply defining your KPIs and determining baseline metrics may be the start of your actionable plan!

Otherwise, your analysis of your customer communications and data should form the basis for your strategy.

Provide improved education and training for agents

Your agents are, in most cases, the first—or most memorable—touchpoints for brand interaction. Whether it’s someone responding to a message on Twitter or the agent answering the phones, interactions with the human representatives of your brand will constitute, for better or for worse, a large part of your brand identity for customers.

As a result, part of your strategy for improving customer satisfaction should focus on improved education and training for agents. The weaknesses revealed in your data should give you an understanding of where to focus your training.

  • Do agents need more training in soft skills, such as empathy or emotional intelligence?
  • Do agents need updated training on current products and services?
  • Do you need to update your guidelines and scripts to better reflect the needs and pain points of your customers?
  • Do you need to expand your customer support to a more omnichannel approach and train agents on communicating and supporting customers across a variety of channels?

Meet and exceed customer expectations

Customer satisfaction starts with meeting customer’s expectations for support—but it shouldn’t end there. The best and most beloved customer brands became so by exceeding customer expectations, and setting the bar even higher.

Two important ways to meet (and exceed) customer expectations in 2023 and beyond is by providing personalized support and by implementing an omnichannel approach.

The data demonstrates this clearly:

  • >80% of customers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences
  • >66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and preferences
  • >40% of consumers have used three or more channels to connect with customer service representatives.

Being able to meet customers where they are, through providing omnichannel support, is an important step in improving customer satisfaction (and improving your CES score!) But more than that, being able to offer personalized support—a benefit customers have come to expect—is exponentially easier with an omnichannel support to customer service. With omnichannel support, agents can easily see and review previous conversations, purchases or interactions a customer has had with a brand, allowing them to offer up-to-date and personalized recommendations, solutions and offerings tailored to that customer.

Repeat The Process

Most importantly, companies and brands who want to improve their customer satisfaction need to keep in mind that this is an ongoing process.

As you make improvements and implement your strategy over time, the data will change, and you’ll need to keep adjusting your strategy based on the new data and tracked KPIs. With customer experience and satisfaction becoming more and more a distinguishing factor between competitors, brands who are committed to customer satisfaction have a lot to gain.

However, the work needed to get there can be difficult—which is one reason why more brands in 2023 are looking to customer service experts to partner with them to achieve their customer satisfaction goals. A customer experience expert, like Global Response, can partner with you to provide the strategy, resources and decades of expertise so that you can improve your customer satisfaction metrics and stand above the crowd with customer experience.

When you’re ready to make customer satisfaction a priority, get in touch with Global Response.

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