If you’re looking for a way to truly understand how your customers are feeling about their experience with your brand, it could be time to consider adding a customer satisfaction survey to your marketing mix.


Be warned, however, that not all customer satisfaction surveys are alike. Unless you’re familiar with surveys – the audience, the timing, the purpose – it’s easy to use the terms Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) interchangeably, and it’s quite possible that you’ve never engaged with a Customer Effort Score (CES) survey. We’ll break down the details of each, who to target, when to send them, and what to ask. We’ll also show you how to create a survey with alternate endings (using the emfluence Marketing Platform) in less than six minutes.


Customer Satisfaction Survey

A CSAT score is an almost-instant rating of the customer’s most recent interaction with your brand, usually used to gauge customer support or product perception.


Audience: Customer or prospect who has engaged with your brand directly. This may be someone who has attended a webinar, experienced a product (or demo), or interacted with a frontline employee.

Timing: Immediately after interaction.

Frequency: Usually not more than once a month.

Purpose: Gauge the customer’s impression of this specific experience.

Scale: Five or ten point.

Sample Questions: A typical CSAT question is, “On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest, please rate your overall satisfaction with the product or service?” The initial question is usually followed by one or two more follow-up questions, but in general, the survey should be short to encourage a higher completion rate.

Results. CSAT scores and comments should be reviewed individually and as trends over time.


CSAT comments can reveal:

  • Opportunities for employee training (product knowledge or soft skills)
  • Operational issues. Long hold times are usually staffing issues, but may also point to agent efficiency
  • Are the customer expectations and experience aligned? Said differently, is marketing setting unrealistic expectations?
  • Product features or requests


Net Promoter Score Survey

An Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey gauges a customer’s perception of your organization overall: product/service, customer support, and price/value. While a Customer Satisfaction survey is sent immediately after an interaction, a Net Promoter Score survey ideally wouldn’t be influenced by a recent interaction. NPS surveys usually are sent at regular intervals to a consistent percentage of your base.


Purpose: Gauge likelihood to recommend

Audience: Consistent percent of current base, regardless of whether they have engaged with the brand recently. For example, you may send the survey to 8% of your base each month.

Timing: Depends on the size of the base. Monthly surveys allow you to respond quickly to major issues and note trends that may be representative of the base as a whole.

Frequency: You know your base best, your annual churn and churn points in a customer lifecycle. For services with an annual contract, you may want to survey annually, 90 days prior to renewal.

Scale: Five or 10 point

Sample Questions: On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how likely are you to recommend us to family and friends? What could we do to increase the value of our service?

Calculation: Most NPS scores use a 10-point scale, where

  • 1 to 6 = Detractor
  • 7 or 8 = Neutral
  • 9 or 10 = Promoter


To calculate the Net Promoter Score: Percent of Promoters minus Percent of Detractors. (Neutral scores are omitted.) So, if you receive 10 surveys and two are detractors; three are neutral and five are promoters, the NPS is calculated as follows:

50% (5/10) minus 20% (2/10) = 30%


Results. NPS scores are generally tracked over time, with segmentation as appropriate. Segmentation may include stage in customer lifecycle; by product or service; or by product tier. NPS can reveal interesting insights into your customer expectations, pricing and targeting. In one industry I worked in, customers on the free version of a subscription service consistently rated us lower than the customers who paid for a higher tier, although the features were remarkably consistent. We discovered that the issue wasn’t about features, it was about usability. The free tier attracted a less-sophisticated user base, and the functionality wasn’t as intuitive as they expected.


It is possible to have a high CSAT score and low NPS and vice-versa. In some cases, a customer will rate the interaction with an agent, happy that an issue was resolved, so the CSAT score will be high. However, they would have preferred not to have had an issue in the first place, which detracts from their NPS score.


Customer Effort Score

The customer effort score is a metric of the motto, “Be easy to do business with.” Frustrating customer experiences, especially in subscription models, will drive churn. A quick ease of effort question on your surveys can help you identify sticky spots in the customer journey. Unlike a CSAT score, which asks about the overall experience (the result of the interaction), the CES asks about the process of engaging with your organization.


Purpose: Identify and resolve areas of high effort in the customer journey.

Audience: Anyone who has interacted recently with your organization. It may be a visit to an FAQ page, an interaction with a customer service agent (in-store, phone, chat or email), or a follow up to a service call.

Timing: Immediately after the interaction.

Scale: Customer Effort Scores are usually on a seven-point scale.

Sample Questions: To what extent do you agree with the following statement: Our organization made it easy to handle my issue.

Results. CES should help you identify areas in the customer journey that aren’t meeting your customers’ expectations. It may be value (marketing), customer interaction (support/operation), or service windows (Operations).


What Not to Do with Survey Results

I’m an unabashed fan of Tim Ferriss – his books, his podcast and his 5-minute Friday emails. He is a relentless tester of human limits and ideas, and his podcasts feature interviews with people who are cutting edge in their area of expertise – sometimes on the outer fringe of their peer set. Until recently his podcast was ad-supported. Ferriss wanted to test a fee-based podcast to remove the ads. He sent a pre-launch survey and then went forward with the fee-based trial. The results are on his blog, and his explanation is fantastic. “The really comical part is that I should have known, and I could have known. Actually, one could argue that I did know.”


The takeaway: Don’t send the survey, then ignore the feedback.


Create a Survey in Six Minutes

While the surveys all differ in nature and purpose, creating a survey in the emfluence Marketing Platform is remarkably easy. In this quick tutorial, you will learn how to create a one-question CSAT survey, with alternate endings. In the example survey, a consumer who provides a score a 9 or 10 will be directed to a landing page inviting them to leave a Review (Promoter Landing Page). A consumer who provides a Detractor rating (a score of 6 or below) will be directed the Detractor Landing Page, alerting them that a customer service manager will contact them to resolve.

  • We’ll start by creating the Promoter and Detractor Landing Page.
  • Then we’ll create the actual survey.
  • Then we’ll use Skip Logic in the survey to direct consumers to our preplanned landing pages, based on the rating they select.

Please note: There is no audio on this video demonstration.

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