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Your guide to all things customer satisfaction, from measuring CSAT to example questions and best practices.

manager smiling with tablet and two graphs

Satisfied customers are your business’s most valuable asset. Those customers tend to stay loyal to your brand, return to make purchases, and recommend your company to their friends and family.

But determining if your customers are happy or just sticking with you out of habit isn’t always easy to measure—unless you ask your customers. That’s exactly what customer satisfaction surveys are designed to do. They’re a valuable tool for your business, as long as you ask the right questions.

And with this guide to customer satisfaction survey questions, you’ll know you’re on the right path to determining customer satisfaction levels and making improvements where needed.

A customer satisfaction survey is, as the name suggests, a survey designed to measure how satisfied your customers are with your products, services, or your business as a whole. The most popular and effective customer feedback survey to measure satisfaction is the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey.

CSAT is a customer loyalty metric used to gauge customer satisfaction, and often makes up part of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program with the two other major loyalty metrics: Net Promoter Score® (NPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES).

Customer satisfaction surveys ask for customer feedback on any recent experiences with your business—like a new purchase or contact with a customer support team - or they can ask about satisfaction with your business as a whole.

CSAT surveys work by asking customers an initial multiple-choice question about their satisfaction levels, such as “How would you rate your overall satisfaction level with [company]?” Respondents are asked to answer on a 5-point scale, with options being: very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, neutral, satisfied, and very satisfied.

Once your survey responses are in, you can calculate your CSAT score by dividing the total number of customers who selected very satisfied (5) or satisfied (4) by the total number of responses and multiply that by 100. This formula will give you an accurate CSAT score that calculates the percentage of satisfied customers.

If you’re looking to see how your CSAT score measures up against others in your industry, the American Customer Satisfaction Index keeps a quarterly list of industry benchmarks to see where you stand. The overall US customer satisfaction score of 74.4% is a good starting point as well.

Of course, you’re competing against yourself to continuously improve customer satisfaction rates, so benchmarking your progress against your score is the most important marker of your success.

Customer satisfaction surveys are vital for any business for several reasons.

Too many businesses assume that they would know if their customers were unsatisfied—they’d call the customer service team to complain, stop making purchases, or vent their anger on social media.

But the truth is, when customers are not completely satisfied, they might not take any of those steps because they require effort. And then, when a competitor comes with a better offering, they will abandon your business immediately without warning—and then you’re in trouble.

Rather than assuming you know how people feel about your customer experience and their level of satisfaction with it, ask them directly in a customer satisfaction survey to gather accurate feedback from the people who matter most—your customers.

Acquiring new customers is expensive and time-consuming. Keeping the ones you already have satisfied is a much more rewarding proposition. Regularly sending out customer satisfaction questionnaires helps you gauge how many of your customers are satisfied and likely to remain loyal.

It also helps you measure how satisfying (or frustrating) your overall customer experience is.

For example, your CSAT score will tell you how well you meet your customers’ expectations. If you’re letting many of them down, you’ll know you have work to do. And if you’re sending satisfaction surveys regularly, you can address serious issues your customers mentioned immediately and potentially turn a problem into a retention opportunity.

Optimizing your customer journey is much easier when you have solid, actionable data to understand what needs to be improved and what’s working well. And that’s what customer satisfaction surveys will offer you when used correctly.

For example, say you know there is some sort of issue in your billing process that is frustrating customers, but you’re not sure what the exact issue is, and so you don’t know how to fix it. A well-designed open-ended customer satisfaction question will yield insights from your customers about exactly what they find frustrating about your billing process, and will probably also offer you suggestions about how to fix it.

Loyal customers serve as brand advocates, promoting your product to their networks. Aside from bringing you potential new leads, loyal customers also return to your service repeatedly or upgrade to new features or products. Plenty of data supports the value of retaining loyal customers over attempting to acquire new ones, especially the cost savings involved.

Effective customer satisfaction survey questions give you the info you need to help transform customers into brand advocates. By personalizing your CSAT questions and letting your loyal customers know you hear their concerns and want to deliver the value they seek, you can make your customers feel seen and heard—and, thus, more likely to stay customers.

Smart business managers know that finding effective qualitative methods for evaluating employees can pay dividends. This is true in identifying employees who need training or resources to grow and rewarding your best-performing employees by recognizing what they are doing well.

By employing customer service questionnaires and tools at key touchpoints in customer service workflows or after interactions between employees and long-time customers, you can gain a much clearer picture of who your most vital employees are, and use that information to inform training and management decisions to help the rest of your team grow. Even better, you can communicate these growth opportunities to employees with clear data collected via CSAT questions to show them the value of seeking additional training or working on their own performance.

Perhaps the most important reason to spend the necessary time and resources on developing thoughtful customer satisfaction survey questions is the ability to create a customer-centric culture—from the C-suite to entry-level staff.

The data collected via effective customer satisfaction survey questions speaks for itself. If your customers tell you they are thrilled after a new workflow or initiative has been introduced, the team members responsible can see how their work is making a difference.

Asking the right questions on your customer satisfaction survey is just the beginning of creating a highly effective survey experience. Here are a few additional tips to optimize your surveys to get the most actionable and accurate data.

Your potential survey respondents are probably pretty busy—and now you’re asking them to take time out of their day to help your business without any immediate benefit for them. Keeping your survey short helps increase response rates because it’s asking for a minimal time commitment from your customers.

A good CSAT survey should have at most two or three questions: the first multiple-choice question, where they rate their satisfaction, and one or two open-ended follow-ups to gain context.

Customer satisfaction survey respondents are likely to only complete the survey if they find the questions clear and specific. If they’re unsure what is being asked of them, they just won’t respond—or they will give you unhelpful responses for your needs.

Ensure your question wording is clear so respondents can answer quickly and accurately and return to whatever they were doing. That means avoiding jargon or complicated terms, using as few words as possible in your questions, and wording your questions clearly and directly.

The survey isn’t enough to get responses—you also need to craft an effective invitation email to your potential respondents. It’s a good idea to tell them how long the survey will take, what you’ll use the survey data for, and to thank them in advance for taking the time to answer.

With the right invitation email, respondents will know how much of a time commitment they’re asked for, and what their responses help your company do—which makes them more likely to answer.

In our on-the-go world, more and more people are reading their emails and answering surveys primarily on their mobile phones. If your survey isn’t optimized for mobile, your customers will quickly get frustrated and abandon the survey. Instead, provide a good user experience by ensuring your survey looks and works great on all kinds of devices so customers can respond from wherever they are.

woman smiling next to graphs

The success of your customer satisfaction survey depends on asking the right questions in the right way. Otherwise, the data and insights you gather won’t be as accurate or valuable. With these 18 examples of customer satisfaction survey questions for various use cases, you can design the most effective survey for your needs.

Gaining a new customer is exciting. But if you’re in an industry where an onboarding experience is required (for a B2B software product, for example), frustrations with the customer experience can start early. Asking your customers about their satisfaction with the onboarding process can surface any pain points you should fix so your customer experience begins on the right foot.

After you put on an event or conference, whether online or in-person, gathering feedback from attendees is essential. If they were dissatisfied with a part of the event—or the whole thing—they’re not likely to attend again or recommend that others do so. Sending a customer satisfaction survey right after the event will help you measure if your event lived up to expectations and learn how to improve for next time.

Restaurants that want to measure how satisfying their dining experience is should use this CSAT question to gather information. You can also add a demographic question or two to see if there are patterns in satisfaction levels: Are regular customers more or less satisfied than new ones? Do younger customers have different satisfaction levels than older ones?

Hotels and other hospitality providers can use this question to measure the satisfaction levels of their guests. This question, asking about the satisfaction with the hotel as a whole, can be sent after the stay is completed. You could also send satisfaction feedback surveys after a guest has a spa treatment or after they check in to gather data about those specific experiences.

Developing a functional, beautiful website for your business is no small task. You want to gather customer feedback after the site launches or make major changes to ensure your online experience is satisfying instead of frustrating. You could also add a further question about their experience, for example, asking if they could find everything they needed during their website visit.

Consumers these days expect a seamless, nearly effortless online shopping experience from companies. Are you living up to that expectation, or is your online checkout and purchase experience full of pain points? These pain points can cause people who are about to become customers to give up and go to a competitor, so asking about satisfaction levels during this part of the customer journey can yield big improvements for your business.

This is one of several potential customer service survey questions you can ask respondents after they contact your customer support team with an issue or a question. Having a team that offers quick, effective help to customers when a problem arises is vital to their overall satisfaction levels. After all, customers don’t expect that issues will never come up, but they do expect that when one does, your company will offer them help promptly and efficiently.

If you’re in an industry where the sales process is a little longer and more involved than just clicking an online checkout button, this is a good question to ask. Sometimes a frustrating sales experience can drive away people who are otherwise great potential customers, so knowing where the pitfalls lie allows you to work with your sales team to develop a better and more customer-centric sales process.

Customer feedback survey questions don’t need to always ask about a specific and recent customer experience. They can also gather feedback about overall satisfaction levels with your company. This question can help you measure how customers feel about your company as a whole, considering all their transactions and interactions with you. It’s best followed up with an open-ended question that asks what could improve their satisfaction rates if they’re low or the main factor if they’re highly satisfied.

Adding open-ended questions after the multiple-choice questions in your CSAT survey can help you gain important context around your score. They help you understand why customers rated your business the way they did. Customers can express their feelings in their own voice instead of through options you provide. This question allows them to express their thoughts about your business fully, and might provide insights you wouldn’t have even thought to ask about.

Using skip logic is a great idea for some customer satisfaction surveys. That way, you can ask people who are satisfied with different open-ended questions than those who are not. Asking satisfied customers what works for them and why can help you identify things your company is doing well in the customer journey. You can then build on those successes and use those strong points in your marketing and sales process.

Your employees are vital to your customer experience—they’re on the ground daily. Asking customers who have indicated that they’re dissatisfied to tell you in their own words what your employees could improve upon might surface some unexpected issues in the customer experience—and help you resolve them with the help of your employees.

This is another great open-ended question to ask people who have rated themselves as dissatisfied. There may be various factors that go into their dissatisfaction, but identifying the most important one can help you find major pain points in your customer experience. Then you can work on fixing them and watch your CSAT scores rise.

Offering a completely open-ended question option like this lets customers tell you absolutely anything about their experiences with your business. It’s also an effective question of whether customers have indicated they’re satisfied, dissatisfied, or somewhere in between.

With the rise of artificial intelligence in the customer experience, this customer service survey question has become essential. Higher ratings in response indicate that your recommendation algorithms correctly match customer intent with your service or products. Lower scores could indicate some rethinking or development is needed.

This question can be leveraged during a customer service interaction (e.g., phone, chatbot, social media). It can also inform marketing and communication. In either case, this data is useful in improving how you give instructions, offer help, or process requests or complaints from your users.

This straightforward question gives you a clear picture of how your retention efforts are working to turn one-time customers into brand advocates. This type of question is best paired with a follow-up question to ask the customer what would encourage a repeat purchase or what makes them reluctant to buy again.

You can frame this as a rating scale question with a follow-up to allow the respondent to elaborate on their response. This type of customer satisfaction survey question is valuable for determining whether existing pricing is reasonable and evaluating the impact of pricing changes in real time. Suppose negative responses increase significantly after rolling out higher prices for products or subscriptions. In that case, you can adjust pricing or offer promotions to address backlash and prevent negative customer word-of-mouth.