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How to measure customer satisfaction

Satisfied, happy customers are vital for any business. Discover the customer satisfaction strategies and techniques you can use to measure your customer satisfaction scores.

Customer satisfaction is essential for any new business.

Get it right and happy customers are your biggest advocates – returning to buy from you and sharing their positive experience with friends and family.

And, as it costs far less to keep a customer compared to winning a new one, knowing what your customers think and feel about your start up is important.

Customer feedback is vital for businesses of all sizes. It covers all aspects of your business – from customer service to how your products fit into customers’ lives and how likely customers are to recommend your business to others.

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What is customer feedback?

Feedback can measure customer satisfaction, improve customer retention and provide customer insights that help you make better business decisions.

Rather than speculating on what customers want, feedback lets you know for sure – and that means your business can grow in the right direction.

You can use customer feedback to improve products and services and change how your company operates for the better.

Collecting feedback also shows that your business values your customers’ opinions, which can help turn them into valuable brand advocates.

It’s little wonder that 70% of companies that deliver a brilliant customer experience actively use customer feedback techniques.

Customers really want to share their opinion on your business, too 72% of consumers want to see that brands care and look for brands that listen as part of the buying process.


Why measure customer satisfaction?

Knowing how customers feel about your business can help you to identify and improve issues with your products and customer service, boosting customer loyalty and increasing revenue.

Customer satisfaction is the best indicator of how likely it is that a customer will buy again in the future.

In short, it pays to know how satisfied and happy your customers are with your business.

There are two ways to measure customer satisfaction: directly by contacting customers using surveys or interviews; or indirectly by looking at how a customer interacts with your business, or what they say on social media or on review websites.

It’s important to put together a plan to measure customer satisfaction, and this guide takes you step-by-step through the stages to consider.

Watch this: Want to improve customer satisfaction? Try these five simple customer satisfaction tips you can start right now with this video from UpsideLearning:


Measuring customer satisfaction

Step 1. Decide what you want to find out

Customer satisfaction can cover a range of different things – from what customers think about your product, service quality or pricing through to the entire buying process.

Be clear what you want to find out.

Maybe you’ve heard some customers complain or seen some negative reviews online.

Use these to target a specific area you want to learn more about and then make a list of your top questions.

Businesses tend to ask questions across a few areas to build an overall customer satisfaction score.

You might want to ask questions about one area or a few at a time, such as value for money and product quality.

Typical customer satisfaction measures can cover areas such as:

  • Quality – How satisfied customers are with the quality of your products or services, and how they met their needs.
  • Pricing – Satisfied customers are more likely to think products or services are good value if they’re priced fairly, especially against competitor prices.
  • Buying experience – How satisfied is the customer with the buying experience? Think of measures such as how quickly their call was answered, or how polite or helpful your staff are.
  • Recommendation – How likely is it that the customer will recommend your business to others? Satisfied customers are a useful part of your marketing strategy, as they tell friends and use social media to share their positive experiences.


Step 2. Choose the type of data you want

Once you’ve decided which areas you want to focus on, think about the type of research data you wish to collect: either qualitative or quantitative data.

  • Qualitative data – This is subjective data, namely customers’ opinions and attitudes towards your business. For example, you may want to research how easy it is for customer to buy a product from your website. Qualitative data is usually reported as comments such as, “I found it slow to use the web site when placing an order.”
  • Quantitative data – This is numerical information, from which you can deduce facts such as the web site takes 30 seconds to load the order page, the number of customer complaints in a week, or how often goods are returned. These can be useful for setting targets to improve customer satisfaction, such as ensuring you reduce the number of customer complaints over a set period.

There are pros and cons to using both types of data.

Qualitative research provides useful insight into customer perceptions of your business.

It works best through personal contact with customers such as one-to-one interviews, telephone calls and focus groups.

However, the information may not be specific.

For example: “Your web site is too slow” may be a comment from a dissatisfied customer but as “slow” is a relative term it’s hard to know what needs speeding up and by how much.

That’s where quantitative research steps in.

It’s a good way to survey larger number of customers and provides data that’s easy to collate and measure.

For example, you could use it to look at how long your website takes to load, which pages are the worst and how many people rate them slow or fast.

This can then give you an answer as to what part of the website needs fixing and what percentage of customers might benefit.

Different research techniques are needed for each type of data – so consider whether you want to use just one or a combination of the two for the most useful insights.

Want to get better at customer service? Read our free guide to good customer service and create better customer relationships.


Methods for measuring customer satisfaction

There are plenty of ways to collect feedback. From starting conversations with customers in store to setting up online surveys and focus groups, there are options to suit different budgets and businesses.

Customer surveys – This is the standard, quantitative way to collect data on customer satisfaction. It helps you understand customers’ likes, dislikes and what you need to improve. Surveys can be carried out in numerous ways including online on your business website or social media accounts, by telephone or post, or on in person. To generate a high response rate, keep surveys short and focused – one to three questions is best. Use open-ended questions to encourage more detailed responses. Alternatively, use a scale system to record responses, such as ‘How satisfied were you with the delivery of your product’ on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is poor and 10 is excellent.

One-to-one interviews – Conducted with individual customers over the phone or in person either following a scripted questionnaire or in a free-form conversation that allows for more in-depth feedback. Can be time-consuming and costly to survey enough people for a decent sized sample.

Live chat – Rapidly becoming a key customer service tool, live chat offers a great way to analyse what a customer is thinking and feeling. As chat transcripts are captured, you can comb through transcripts to unearth useful feedback on your business.

User testing – Using customers to test-drive an aspect of your business and record their experience is a great way to develop new prototypes, test new websites or check software for bugs. While user testing can be expensive, there are cheaper alternatives such as inviting customers to a drinks evening and sharing new product ideas and asking them for feedback. Avoid asking friends and family for user feedback as they can be biased. It’s best to ask for feedback from genuine customers.

Focus groups – Involves moderator-led groups of 5-8 people discussing a chosen subject. Lots of insight agencies can arrange and host focus groups. An agency will find people in your target audience and invite them to a structured workshop, usually in a facility where you can watch customer interactions. It’s a good way to get rich, detailed feedback on new ideas, marketing campaigns or product prototypes before you launch them.

Feedback cards – A cheap and easy way to get anonymous feedback from existing customers. They can be left on counters in-store or given out to customers.

Mystery shoppers – Can be done in person in-store, over the phone or online. A person is paid to shop as customer and document their experience.

Website analytics – Use website analytics tools to see how customers journey through your website. Look at time spent on different sections, such as ‘About us’ or ‘FAQ’ pages to see if these address the questions customers have.

Social media – A cheap way to get customer feedback is via social media. Actively invite customers to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter, then monitor posts for feedback. It can be worth engaging directly with customers who post feedback asking for more information. Many social media platforms include surveys or polling tools to quickly gauge customer responses for free.

Unsolicited feedback – Useful for small business who lack the budget for full-scale customer surveys. Look for comments on reviews websites and services such as TrustPilot or FreeIndex, as well as customer emails and letters to the business.


Customer satisfaction survey tips

You’ll need to decide what questions to ask in your customer survey.

These typically will include overall satisfaction, how likely the customer is to buy from you again, and whether they would recommend your business to others.

You may also have specific questions related to quality, pricing, delivery or ease of transaction.

The top three rules for customer surveys are:

  • Be clear – Don’t make respondents guess what you mean by being vague or combining several elements into one question. Avoid jargon and technical terms, and keep questions simple and to the point.
  • Be specific – Ask straightforward, specific questions, avoiding broad concepts. Only ask questions that fulfil the aim of your survey.
  • Keep it short – The ideal number of questions will vary depending on the how a customer survey is being conducted. A phone survey may involve 5 to 10 questions whereas a poll on social media or on your website may have only 3 to 5 questions. Remember that customers are busy people and a lengthy survey may be off-putting.

All surveys are different, but here are some techniques that make it easier to interpret the results.

  • Use scales – Number scales, along with definitions, are useful to compare responses. For example, ask a customer to rate how helpful your staff are using a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very unhelpful and 10 is extremely helpful.
  • Use odd ranges – It’s useful to use odd-numbered scales, such as five different responses. The same question above could have five answers: 1. Very helpful; 2. Quite unhelpful; 3. Neither helpful nor unhelpful; 4. Helpful; and 5. Very helpful.
  • Include ‘Other’ – It’s useful to include an ‘Other’ option with the ability to record a customer response.


Customer satisfaction metrics

The three most popular customer satisfaction metrics are:

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – Uses questions such as “How satisfied are you with…? or “How would you rate…?” to create an overall CSAT score. This reveals how satisfied your customer is with your business, product, service or experience. Your CSAT score is the average rating of your customer responses. Good for short term research, it can be hard to estimate overall satisfaction.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) – Uses questions such as “How likely would it be for you to recommend [company name or product name] to a friend or colleague?”  NPS measures the likeliness of a customer referring your product or business to someone. As customer satisfaction is a major predictor of repurchase, NPS is one of the most popular ways to measure customer loyalty. Its strength lies in the fact that it’s about intention, which is easier to answer. As NPS is a popular online benchmark, there are plenty of email and online tools you can use for your business. Paid-for tools include Wootric and, whereas you can try Trustfuel NPS for free.

Customer Effort Score (CES) – Uses questions such as “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue today” to arrive at a CES metric. The approach usually involves a statement to which customer can reply by rating on a scale from ‘Strongly agree’ to ‘Strongly disagree,’ and is good for providing accurate insight into a service or product shortcomings.


Using customer feedback to improve your business

Customer feedback is meaningless unless you use it to improve your business. It’s worth spending time on a customer feedback plan to ensure feedback supports your objectives and your business can act on it.

Set customer feedback objectives – Think about your goals before you start gathering customer feedback. Decide which part of your business you wish to get feedback on. Decide also which channel or technique will work best and how you will process the data you gather.

Analyse feedback – Take time to review feedback in order to identify issues and concerns with your products or services. When filtering feedback, look for trends or recurring issues as indicators of areas you should focus on.

Act on feedback – There’s no point gathering feedback unless you plan on acting on it. If customers complain about poor sales service then take action, such as reviewing performance and developing training for the sales team. Make a prioritised list of actions based on feedback and set a deadline for them to be implemented.

Respond to feedback – It’s a good idea to respond to customer feedback, both positive and negative. Respond to negative feedback by acknowledging the issue and outlining what your business is going to do about it. It’s a good idea to always thank customers for feedback as it can turn negative sentiment about your business into a more positive relationship with a customer.

Use positive feedback – Add positive reviews and testimonials to your website or promotional material. This type of feedback will boost your business’s credibility and increase interest in your products and services.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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