How to Measure Customer Experience: The Basics of NPS, CES, and CSAT

Squelch Team | May 16, 2018

A yellow and white measuring tape unrolls on a desk

If you’re reading this article, you likely already know that offering a great customer experience is critical if you want to stand out from competitors. And, you’re probably doing all you can to keep current customers happy.

But how do you know if you’re doing a good job?

Customer experience can be measured with the help of three tools considered to be industry standards: NPS, CES, and CSAT. If you’re not familiar with them all, here’s what you need to know before you start using them to your advantage.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

When you use NPS to determine customer experience, you are posing one simple question to your audience: how likely are you to recommend the product or service to a friend? In most cases, the score range is 0 to 10, in which 0 is “not likely at all” and 10 is “extremely likely.”

You can use that score to categorize your customers into three groups. For example, anyone who answers the NPS question with a 0 to 6 is a “detractor,” which is someone who is not satisfied with your company.

Customers who give a score of 7 or 8 are “passives,” which means they are satisfied with your company but not very enthusiastic about it. They could switch to your competitor at any time.

On the other hand, anyone who scores your company a 9 or 10 is a “promoter,” which means he or she is a dedicated customer who is excited about your product or service.

You can calculate your overall NPS by taking the percentage of customers who fall into the “promoters” category and subtracting the percentage of “detractors.” Your company’s NPS is high if there is a big difference between the number of “promoters” and “detractors.”

NPS can be a pretty simple way to find out how you’re doing on customer experience. Since it’s only one question, it makes the process easy on your customers and usually gets a high response rate.

At the same time, it’s only one question, which means you’re not going to get a lot of detail from the survey. You’ll get a sense of how you’re doing, but it won’t tell you much about how you can improve.

Adding a follow-up question to an NPS survey, like “What is the reason for your score?” can be helpful. This allows you to gather more information, including an idea of why the NPS score is what it is.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Another way to measure the customer experience is with CES, which focuses on how much effort a customer has invested for the company to meet his or her needs—in transactions, communications, and any other interactions.

After all, there’s evidence that customers want seamless, easy experiences with companies, allowing them to get what they need without too much effort.

With the CES, the statement you can ask is, “The company made it easy for me to resolve my issue.” The scale ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “strongly disagree” and 5 meaning “strongly agree.” Not unlike NPS, we’re looking for a trend of high numbers.

Also like NPS, the simple question ensures you’ll get a simple answer, which is both good and bad. You’ll find out how much friction customers experience in an interaction, but you won’t know why unless you add a follow-up question.

However, one of the advantages of using CES is that the question is focused on a singular aspect: customer effort. CES is known for being a good indicator of customer loyalty since the ease of the transaction is often more important to most customers than product price or even quality.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Finally, another way to measure the customer experience is with CSAT, which involves asking, “How would you rate your experience with _____?”

The customer can fill in the blank with anything related to your company, such as a product purchase or a service you just provided a customer with. The scale for this question is 1 to 10, with 1 being “not satisfied at all” and 10 being “very satisfied.”

This method is the most popular way to measure satisfaction, probably because it is so easy to customize. Also, it allows you to get a bit more detailed than, say, the NPS because you can ask the same question about multiple parts of the customer journey. Plus, CSAT results show how satisfied your customers are in the short term, while NPS focuses more on long-term satisfaction.

Overall, you might choose to keep the process simple by asking just one question, which increases your odds of people completing the survey. Or you can ask more questions, allowing you to gather more details but reducing survey participation.

Just as with the other types of customer experience measurement tools, you can choose to add an open-ended follow-up question to find out why customers scored your company the way they did.

Experiment Until You Get the Right Mix

All three measurement tools have their own pros and cons. That’s why experts recommend that you use more than one to measure customer experience.

You can start by using the NPS, CES and CSAT at the same time to gather details about how your company scores among customers. You might find that one or two of these works best, or you can simply continue using all three.

In any case, it will take some experimenting to determine the right option for your company, and the results will be worth it as they help achieve greater customer engagement.