A Score for measuring customer satisfaction

In the field of Customer Relationships, the CSAT is an acronym for the Customer SATisfaction score, which measures the satisfaction of a customer following an interaction with a company. But more than an indicator, the measurement of customer satisfaction is above all a corporate strategy, implemented nowadays by most major groups. In an increasingly competitive, globalized and digitized economy, the assessment of customer satisfaction is a necessity. This allows us to understand their expectations, to target the areas for improvement when making changes, to retain their loyalty, to win new customers and limit attrition to a minimum. The CSAT is relevant for both strategic and operational challenges.

To obtain a CSAT that corresponds as closely as possible to that which it is intended to measure – customer satisfaction – it is best to put oneself in the customer’s place before surveying him. In an article published on the Enterprise l’Express website on March 25th, 2016, Adrien Guilleminot writes: “We must organize how we listen to our customers. All the more so because they do not necessarily have the desire, the possibility or the courage to express themselves spontaneously and sincerely at the time of consumption, for example when they leave a restaurant. Thus we have to find the right moment. In general, the more the company asks its customer “in real time”, the more the customer’s response will reflect his perception – good or bad – of the interaction.

But just using a percentage to measure customer satisfaction is not enough. A questioning strategy is a key element in obtaining information that will then be translated into corrective actions and improvements in customer satisfaction. It is also a powerful means of commitment and customer re-engagement, as noted by Malakoff Médéric. Go to the Case study here.

The CSAT (satisfaction score) measures operational items. It is no coincidence that it is today’s most commonly-used indicator. It may be linked to a specific theme: availability of a product, expectations, quality of response, etc. “It is very simple, flexible, agile and adaptable to all circumstances,” says Marie-Paule Bayol (Ipsos Loyalty).

Numbers and letters

In order for the CSAT to guide a company in the best way, this indicator is often accompanied by the open-ended question “Why? “, thereby offering consumers the opportunity to express what they liked and disliked, plus their expectations, expressed or hidden, about a product or service. The information requested from the customer, by means of open-ended questions, gives rise to the collection of verbatims, which allow his answers to be qualified and/or enriched. Several methods can be used to exploit these verbatims. Initially – and this is still the case for a great many companies – it was done “by hand” on Excel spreadsheets, classifying the answers received by category, each category corresponding to an idea.

Semantic analysis software available today uses language processing algorithms to detect the content of written sentences. The verbatims are thus analyzed to extract words and expressions bearing meaning, which are then classified by category. The level of classification and the granularity by classification theme will be more or less fine according to the selected service provider. The selection of such software assumes that the feedback management solution used by the company is “open and connected”, that is to say that it can integrate this software within its own systems in order to enrich the collected data for a better capacity of exploitation, decision-making and taking more relevant actions.

If the CSAT is an essential indicator for measuring customer satisfaction, taking into account the human and emotional dimension of customers can also be a winning strategy.

Emotion and customer satisfaction go hand in hand

In an article published in the February-March 2017 Harvard Business Review, entitled “The new science of emotions in customer relations,” the authors encourage companies to take heed of the emotions of their clients: “Companies should be interested in emotional links, not only as science but also as a strategy, for they offer tremendous opportunities to create value. (…) Our research on hundreds of brands and over a dozen product categories shows we can rigorously take measurements and strategically target the feelings that shape customer behavior. (…) This can constitute a new and important source of growth and profitability.”

Today, the challenge for companies is not only to gather and analyze data but to “collect” the emotions of consumers and transform them into tangible information, into product innovation, or into a better quality of service … into customer satisfaction !


CSAT : this is the oldest and most widely-used indicator for customer relations and marketing services. It corresponds to the percentage of positive responses to the question “Are you (or were you) satisfied with …? “. It can be fine-tuned if the customer is offered several choices (very, fairly or not at all satisfied) or asked to assign a rating (usually out of 5) or stars to a product or service. Usually, the companies that release information about their CSAT add together the numbers of satisfied and very satisfied customers, or even indicate the sum to be their score of very satisfied customers.

Verbatim : A set of words or phrases cited by an individual during a survey, or when he spontaneously contacts a company (by mail, telephone, mail …), especially via customer service. The verbatim provides the necessary context for understanding customers’ true or hidden expectations. And it allows the analysis to be refined and contextualized to favor more pertinent operational and strategic decisions, allowing more concrete results to be obtained.


If the CSAT is the conventional benchmark indicator for assessing client satisfaction, taking this measurement into account is part of an overall corporate strategy that goes beyond tracking a percentage over several months. To optimize feedback from customers, it is necessary to put oneself in their place, to know which elements should be surveyed, when, how often… and ask them at least one open question, to collect and then analyze the precious verbatims. But in addition to customer satisfaction, analyzing their emotions can also be very beneficial for a company.