Measuring Customer Satisfaction – A Beginner’s Guide

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Written By: author image John Hughes

Answering questions quickly and effectively with tools such as KnowAll are a great way of keeping customers happy, but to really hone your efforts over time, you need to actively measuring customer satisfaction.

As with any other operational part of your business, a little background work in identifying meaningful metrics will help give you a solid framework for measuring customer satisfaction.

In this piece, we’ll take you through six solid areas you can address to get a clear picture of how well you’re doing in delighting customers overall.

Let’s start with some preparatory work.

1. Get Solid on Your Basic Numbers

Before you get down to identifying specific customer support satisfaction metrics, make sure you have a clear view of the overall landscape you’re operating in. Track the following areas at a minimum:

  • How your on-site support material is performing. Measure traffic and bounce rates on relevant sections on your site. If you have the option of soliciting article feedback, simply use it (as in our Heroic Knowledge Base plugin, for example).
  • Your total number of support requests. Get clear on current volumes and look for dramatic spikes.
  • Your average response times per channel. Virtually nothing is more infuriating than tardy customer support responses. Work out your numbers and make driving them down a priority.
Tracking article performance with the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin.
Tracking article performance with the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin

2. Bring Spot Checks Into the Mix

You always want to be focusing in on the actual customer support experience, and there’s no simpler way of doing this than by committing to regular spot checks.

What does this mean in practice? Simple – every week you make it a task to select a random sampling of customer support interactions and review them.

You’re obviously looking to see that existing procedures are being followed, but it will also give you instant insight into customer satisfaction across the board, helping to identify issues and easy potential wins.

We’ve all experienced interactions where it seems scarcely credible that anybody at the company has ever actually used their own support. Implementing this step goes a long way towards making sure your company doesn’t join this unhappy number.

3. Track First Contact Resolution (FCR) Rates

In a perfect world, the customer solves their own problem via your help pages – that’s why you’re tracking traffic and performance on those pages, remember? Once they do hit your support team though, you want their questions to be solved as quickly as possible.

Tracking the number of interactions per case gives you a meaningful overall metric that maps to customer satisfaction. Identifying the number of instances where things are resolved straight off the bat gives you a specific number to drive upwards.

4. Ask Customers to Rate Their Support Interactions

Regardless of what ticketing system you’re using for email or live chat support, there will be an option in there somewhere to ask customers to rate their support interactions, and provide feedback after the issue is closed. Use it!

You want to be keeping an eye on two main things here:

  1. Your overall average: Obviously, this number should be going up and to the right.
  2. Insights from a free-form field: Overall numbers give you a general feel for how you’re doing, but the real gold is in the specific feedback you harvest.

5. Use Your Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple metric you can generate via surveying your customers, and is based on a simple question: “How likely would you be to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”

Results are ranked as follows:

  • Nine or ten: These people are active promoters.
  • Seven or eight: These are the so-called ‘passives’ – people who are more or less satisfied.
  • Zero to six: These are detractors – people who are actively hostile.

Your Net Promoter Score is simply the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.

Services such as SurveyMonkey make working out your NPS a snap.
Services such as SurveyMonkey make working out your NPS a snap

The number itself is an excellent indicator of your overall performance, but also a great way of surfacing opportunities and issues in customer support. Make it a point to regularly follow up with both detractors and promoters, and start drilling into detail.

6. Measure Perceived Consumer Effort

Following up on their initial Harvard Business Review article in 2010, Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and Nicholas Toman brought the subject of consumer effort into sharp focus with the publication of The Effortless Experience in 2013.

They make a highly convincing general case that focusing excessively on customer delight is often a distraction, and that reducing friction and irritation brings substantially more effective results for most firms. More specifically, they argue for tracking Customer Effort Score (CES) as a key customer support metric.

This number is generated simply by asking customers to rate how much effort they had to put into getting their request handled, on a scale of one to five.

It’s an excellent way of getting an unvarnished insight into exactly how well you’re really performing from the customer’s point of view. As with the Net Promoter Score, you’ve also got the option of digging in deeper via personalized follow-ups.


The areas we’ve touched on represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of getting serious about measuring your customer support performance, but they’ll go a long way to getting you firmly on track.

Let’s step through them one more time:

  1. Know your basic numbers to set the stage for further analysis.
  2. Regularly spot check your current interactions.
  3. Track your First Contact Resolution rate, and look to drive it upwards.
  4. Ask customers to rate their support interactions.
  5. Use your Net Promoter Score to surface issues and opportunities.
  6. Stay honest by measuring your Customer Effort Score.

Are you already analyzing your efforts and have tips to share, or want to see us go deeper on any of the points raised above? Get in touch via the comments section below and let us know!

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