CSAT vs NPS: Core Differences & How They Are Applied
Updated: Nov 2
There are two key customer metrics to be aware of for any business, which are crucial to monitor how a brand is viewed by its customers. This post will explain the key differences between CSAT vs NPS and how they are calculated including the benefits and limitations of both.
Table of contents:
CSAT vs NPS: What is the difference?
The core difference between CSAT (customer satisfaction) and NPS is CSAT (customer satisfaction) is a measure of customer satisfaction of a service or product at a particular point in time, while NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a brand loyalty measure that determines how likely customers are to be brand advocates.
To explain the differences in more detail we will go into what both metrics are.
CSAT (Customer Satisfaction): What does it measures?
CSAT looks at measuring how satisfied customers are with the brand in general, it’s offering or certain aspects of the service or product but this is not to be confused with customer loyalty that gives an indication of the intent that customers will stay with a brand.
Customer satisfaction is taking the customers perspective in evaluating what is important to them, whether that is stated importance (essential attributes like quality, price, availability) or derived importance (softer attributes like trust, reputation, helpful staff) and see how far the brand meets these needs.
NPS (Net Promoter Score): What does it measure?
NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a customer loyalty measure looking at the size of groups of customers who either behave like Promoters of the brand and Detractors of the brand.
Therefore, the larger the following of loyal group of customers (Promoters), the better the brand is able to outgrow its competition with Promoters recommending the brand to others, staying longer with the brand leading to more sales being made.
So essentially CSAT measures how happy customers are at different brand touchpoints whether that’s after a purchase, end of a trial period or closing of a support ticket. While NPS is a brand loyalty indicator following a series of interactions with the brand to determine the strength of the relationship between the customer and the brand by their likelihood to endorse the brand to others.
One caution to keep in mind with regard to brand loyalty is inertia where customers stay with a brand not necessarily because they are loyal to the brand after positive experiences but the amount of inconvenience it would cause them to change brands like switching banks or changing utility providers.
How is CSAT calculated?
CSAT score is calculated by adding all those customers who answered they are satisfied with the brand (1 - very satisfied and 2 - satisfied) from the CSAT question below and divide this by the total number of responses and then multiplied by 100 to give a percentage out of 100, which is the CSAT score.
CSAT question example
How satisfied are you with the brand following your recent experience on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very satisfied and 5 is very dissatisfied?
1 - Very satisfied
2 - Satisfied
3 - Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
4 - Dissatisfied
5 - Very dissatisfied
CSAT question can also be asked as a 10-point scale, where you can take the top 2 box score (9 or 10) or top 3 box (8, 9 or 10) as the level of overall customer satisfaction for your brand.
The CSAT calculation is best illustrated in the example below
Note this is based on a 5-point scale CSAT question.
10 people answered they are “Very satisfied”.
20 people answered they are “Satisfied”.
100 people answered the CSAT question
10 + 20 = 30 satisfied customers
30 (satisfied customers) ÷ 100 (total responses) = 0.30
0.30 X 100 = 30% CSAT score
What is a good CSAT score?
Benchmarks of a good CSAT score can vary by sector but a great rule of thumb to keep in mind is a good score can range from 75% to 85%. A CSAT score of 60% or below indicates that customer experience (CX) is in need of major enhancement in order to improve the customer satisfaction of the brand.
To help you improve customer satisfaction, you can ask open ended question to those unhappy customers to explain in detail why they are unsatisfied to see areas where you can improve customers experiences at a particular touchpoint or at different touchpoints in the customer journey.
Below is a question example of an open-ended question asked of dissatisfied customers.
Q. Earlier in the survey you rated your overall experience with BRAND A as unsatisfactory. What are you not happy with BRAND A? (Please be as detailed as possible)
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is a great source if you are looking for industry benchmarks.
How do you calculate NPS?
In order to calculate NPS, the following question below needs to be asked in a survey.
Q. On a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being not at all to 10 being extremely likely, how likely are you to recommend BRAND X OR WEBSITE to friends or family?
After the survey results have been collected, you will then be able to calculate NPS by grouping the scores of 0 to 10 into three separate groups (Promoters, Passives and Detractors) according to the score that was given by each respondent.
Covert the counts of each of these three groups into percentages and then you can carry out the straight forward calculation of Promoters (score 9-10) minus Detractors (score 0-6) to get a Net Promoter Score as illustrated below.
Promoters (score 9-10) - Detractors (score 0-6) = Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS calculation example
250 people completed your survey and all were asked the likelihood to recommend question
70 gave a score of 0 to 6 (Detractors) – 28% (70 out of 250)
55 gave a score of 7 to 8 (Passives) – 22% (55 out of 250)
125 gave a score of 9 to 10 (Promoters) – 50% (125 out of 250)
So, 50% Promoters minus 28% Detractors gives you a Net Promoter Score of +22.
Please bear in mind NPS is not recorded as a percentage.
Below is an explanation of each of the three groups that customers can fall under in NPS:
Promoters are those customers who gave a score of 9 or 10, who are likely to be loyal customers that will carry on buying the brand and will be positive advocates in recommending your brand to others. The more promoters you have will help to accelerate the growth of your business.
Passives are those customers who gave a score of 7 or 8, who are only satisfied with your brand but are not likely to spread positive word of your brand to others and are prone to moving away to your competitors.
Detractors are unhappy customers who gave a score of 0 to 6 and are much more likely to spread negative word about your business due to poor personal experiences with your brand. This could have a damaging effect long term if these issues are not addressed.
So, what is a good NPS score?
NPS scores can range from -100, which is worst possible scenario for a brand with all customers being classified as Detractors to +100, which is the most favourable position to be in with all customers being categorised as Promoters.
Therefore, the higher the NPS score the better it is for a business. The golden standard benchmarks tend to be over 60 like you have with Apple. However, benchmarks for NPS differ by sector, so keep this in mind when comparing your brand’s NPS score with others and should be in relevant context of your industry.
Below are standard benchmarks to give you an idea of what is a good NPS score:
NPS score over 60 are normally best in class
NPS score of 30 or more is good
NPS score of 20 is average
NPS score of 0 or less (minus) is poor
Check out the following post, if you want to know more about NPS calculations.
Key advantages and disadvantages of CSAT
Advantages of CSAT
The following are 4 key benefits of using CSAT:
One simple question that can be customised and administered in different ways such as via text, email, online chat or a website app.
Shows that you value customers input and are committed long term in meeting customer’s needs.
Can be tracked over time at separate intervals to gain the latest customer feedback regarding your brand covering different touchpoints in the customer’s journey.
Ability to benchmark results especially as mentioned above, CSAT is surveyed at regular intervals such as quarterly or yearly, so you can compare the latest CSAT results with previous benchmarks that cover different phases of the journey.
Disadvantages of CSAT
Below are 2 limitations of using CSAT to be aware of:
It only offers findings of the latest interaction rather than after numerous interactions to get a general outlook of an overall rating.
Interpretation of the word “satisfaction” may vary between customers, so correct context of the question may get lost a little dependent on the customer. One way to overcome this is give a small explanation at the beginning of what you are looking for from this question, so the question can be answered correctly.
Key advantages and disadvantages of NPS
Advantages of NPS
Below are 5 key benefits of using NPS:
Is a reputable growth indicator of brand loyalty that is widely recognised and used by many businesses.
Simplicity of NPS with only one question being asked of customers to give a rating of how likely they are to recommend the brand from a scale of 0 to 10. So, this limits the complexity even when calculating NPS as you are initially allocating customers to one of three groups dependent on the score they have given and using a simple subtraction between two groups (Promoters and Detractors).
The ease in which NPS can be facilitated whether that is via an email, text, app or website when a customer logs in.
A well-known customer metric that holds some weight across a lot of businesses.
Monitor NPS over time and benchmark results by regularly conducting a NPS survey whether that is quarterly, 6 monthly or yearly, so it will allow you to investigate and respond if improvements need to be made.
Disadvantages of NPS
The following are 3 limitations of using NPS:
Cannot be used in isolation, meaning it will lack the clarity and reasons why the score is the way they are without using follow-up questions and analysis to ascertain the positive and negative drivers of your brand amongst your customers. So, strategies can be formed to address the issues raised and move those customers up the recommendation scale to 9 or 10 (Promoters).
Sample size can be an issue if a large audience of customers is not surveyed, so the results become unreliable due to lack of robust sample size for analysis especially if you wanting look at different groups of customers. Also, large surveys tend to be costly and time consuming.
The time lag between surveying and analysing the results means the results are not in real time for large NPS surveys, so prolonging any action to be taken if customers give a poor rating.
When is CSAT used?
CSAT can be used at different points in time during a customer’s journey, below are the 3 main instances when CSAT is used:
1. Post purchase feedback
Post purchase of a product or service to rate their overall experience and follow-on questions can then be asked to cover different aspects of the purchase. Customers may also be asked to take part in future CSAT surveys at different time intervals (quarterly, 6 monthly or yearly) to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction is maintained.
2. After a trial period
After a trial period particularly when the trial has not turned into purchase or subscription to establish the reasons why and find out if anything can be done to persuade them to make the purchase, which may lead to another opportunity with a more personalised offering being made by the brand.
3. Following dealings with after sales support
Following contact with service support to gain the customer’s feedback and ensuring any issues raised were resolved swiftly and efficiently. This also helps to make customers feel they are valued and being heard by the brand.
When is NPS used?
NPS (Net Promoter Score) is used after the customer has been with the brand for period of time, where several interactions are likely to have been made with the brand in order to gage the strength of the relationship between the two, given it’s a brand loyalty measure.
This can be done periodically with customers on a regular basis either quarterly or annually in order to monitor customers advocacy with the brand over time to allow if needed for further investigation and action can then be taken to improve customer retention and advocacy.
Other times where NPS can be used is after there have been bad press to ascertain if this has had a negative impact on their brand perceptions or following major changes to the brand’s product offering.
Can you convert NPS to CSAT?
You cannot convert NPS to CSAT as they are two completely different questions, so the context in which customers answered the question will not be relevant from one to another. You cannot take customer loyalty measure (NPS) and convert the data to measure how satisfied customers are at a given point in time whether that it is post purchase or rating the support you had from the customer service team.
There you have it, both NPS and CSAT are essential customer metrics that help businesses grow but remember they are different and cover separate aspects of the customer experience, so one measure is not necessarily better than another, they just cover different things.
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