breaking down customer satisfaction

These days, a positive customer experience can differentiate a brand from its competitors even more than pricing. Companies conscious of that advantage often go to great lengths to improve their customer experience. They widen their support channels, personalize their offerings, and make more customer-centric decisions.

But it’s tough to visualize overall customer experience as you work to improve it piece by piece. Countless interactions play out between companies and customers daily, and many fly below the radar. Companies can use customer satisfaction surveys to start capturing those moments. When they do, the quality of their service becomes more tangible through customer satisfaction metrics.

Below, we’ll cover four key questions about customer satisfaction:

  1. What drives customer satisfaction?
  2. What kills customer satisfaction?
  3. How do you measure customer satisfaction?
  4. How do you sustain customer satisfaction?

Let’s get started.

4 Key Questions About Customer Satisfaction

What drives customer satisfaction?

To create a pool of happy, loyal customers, business owners need to know where to focus their efforts. Here’s a look at the top five factors that fuel customer happiness.

1. Brand perception: How do your customers perceive your business? It might seem like a vague question, but the answer heavily impacts customer experience. Brand perception is contagious. Positive or negative customer feelings can quickly sway overall satisfaction, and research shows that customers form opinions about brands quickly.

2. Employee exchanges: The employees that interact with your customers are a large part of the satisfaction puzzle. Every customer exchange has the power to leave a lasting impression. Studies show that customers remember bad experiences far better than good experiences. This makes customer experience management essential to customer loyalty.

3. Support services: All businesses likely offer some form of support. The question is—what’s the process like for customers? If your company offers live technical support, how long does it take to reach an agent by phone? If a customer wants to exchange an item, is the process tedious? Again, these experiences weigh heavily on overall brand perception.

4. Price: Every customer wants to get a good deal. Competitive pricing plays a big role in customer satisfaction. That means careful product pricing is a must for every business looking to achieve and maintain customer satisfaction.

5. Product: Last but not least, your product must be superior. It probably goes without saying that a business with a faulty product won’t achieve high customer satisfaction rates.

What kills customer satisfaction?

There are dozens of ways to damage customer satisfaction. No doubt, every business has faced a laundry list of its own. Here’s a look at the top five customer satisfaction killers.

1. Bad customer service: Lackluster customer service will lower a CSAT rating before you can say Hold, please. Part of the problem is that 80% of business owners believe their employees offer top-notch service, while just 8% of customers agree. Discrepancy is an understatement.

2. Poor social skills: Like it or not, your customers turn to social media to learn about your business. If your company ignores or irritates customers on Facebook or Twitter, it takes a toll on customer satisfaction. In fact, 15% of customers will turn to a competitor if a business fails to respond via social media.

3. Automated support: Automated operators that field phone calls and typically say things like Listen carefully to these menu options are a surefire way to aggravate customers. 40% of consumers ranked human support as the key improvement a business could make to boost customer satisfaction.

4. High prices: Research shows a direct connection between price and customer satisfaction. In the digital world, customers can comparison shop easily, so if your product is priced higher than competitors, you should explain why. Without a good demonstration of value, people won’t pay more.

5. No appreciation: A business that takes its customers for granted will get poor satisfaction ratings. Customers want to feel valued and appreciated for spending money with your business. When a company fails to support customers properly or ignores consistent, negative feedback, loyalty will dwindle and customers will leave.

How do you measure customer satisfaction?

Satisfaction surveys give companies concrete data on customer happiness when used right. To measure customer satisfaction effectively, start with the basics.

1. Use the right survey tool: The average customer needs a compelling reason to share feedback. If your surveys don’t engage people, you’ll only hear from your happiest and unhappiest customers—and their responses turn survey data into a bell bar that tells you nothing about the vast majority. To avoid that, make it easy for customers to respond. Send branded, mobile surveys that customers can take anywhere, anytime.

2. Optimize for higher survey response rates: A customer satisfaction survey doesn’t do much good without reliable data. To maximize survey responses, follow some online survey best practices before sending. (Hint: It’s time to ditch the 20-question snoozefest.) Survey response rates depend on more than length and question phrasing though. Think about survey design and survey distribution, because they’ll impact engagement rates too.

3. Collect and analyze the data: After sending surveys, you’ll want to analyze the data thoroughly to generate valuable customer insights. Be sure to look beyond raw numbers. Study response differences between subgroups of customers to draw conclusions that drive more effective action. Housing survey data in your CRM is the smartest way to do something powerful with it. Salesforce surveys allow you to automate follow-up processes and trigger actions based on specific results.

How do you sustain customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction isn’t a one-and-done goal. Ultimately, you want to turn satisfied customers into loyal customers, and customer loyalty requires constant TLC. Here are some tips on sustaining customer satisfaction year after year to build a committed customer base.

1. Provide personalized customer service: Customers want more than service with a smile; they want a personalized experience. In fact, 73% of consumers prefer to do business with a brand that uses their personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant. Build relationships with customers by taking the time to get to know them. Customer surveys are a great way to collect preference data and begin tailoring messaging and offerings to the people you serve.

2. Improve employee morale: You can’t shield your customers from negative employee attitudes, but you can work on increasing employee morale. Start by sending regular employee surveys to measure internal happiness and get feedback. Then make it clear that employee input is valued by taking action on common complaints. Happy employees who feel heard are more likely to buy in to the success of your business.

3. Offer perks: Consider offering small perks that customers will remember. For instance, offer free gift-wrapping around the holidays, in-store refreshments, same-day installations, or free trials and samples. These gestures go a long way.

4. Start a loyalty program: 81% percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that offers a loyalty program. As the name suggests, loyalty incentives keep customers coming back. They also tell customers that you value their commitment to your product or service.

5. Host customer appreciation events: A “thank you” is always in season. Host customer appreciation events throughout the year, like VIP shopping events and exclusive get-togethers. A special discount for your loyal customers doesn’t hurt either. Acts of gratitude like these humanize your business, build community ties, and just make people feel pretty good.

6. Improve efficiency: No one likes to wait. Make efforts to reduce response times, speed up web performance, and expedite urgent customer requests. You can add quality checks—like customer support surveys and web surveys—to catch hiccups and streamline customer experience.

7. Solve problems quickly and favorably: Satisfaction often rests on how quickly you can solve a customer’s problem. 70% of customers will buy from your business again if their problem is resolved quickly and in their favor. Make sure your employees are trained to handle problems efficiently and effectively as they arise.

8. Follow up: Customer interactions don’t end when you offer a solution. Experienced support agents know how common customer fall-off is. When they’re unhappy with the answer, customers often go silent, never to be heard from again. Following up after an issue appears to be resolved is critical to sustaining satisfaction. Customer support satisfaction surveys can catch lingering issues the customer wouldn’t have voiced otherwise.

9. Collect feedback: Sensing a pattern here? If you want the hard truth on how your business is doing, ask your customers. By collecting customer feedback and measuring satisfaction, you can identify weak spots and repair them.


Every customer is different, but they all share one desire: to be treated like people. Businesses don’t achieve high customer loyalty by hammering on sales at the expense of their customer base. But customer retention often plays second fiddle to customer acquisition, and current customers pay the price.

Customer-centric businesses get to know the people that keep them afloat. And they start by measuring customer satisfaction. The feedback collected through customer surveys helps companies build stronger customer relationships that drive profits.

Bottom line? Focus on the customer first—the rest will follow.