3 key metrics for measuring customer experience

How loyal are your customers? How easy—or difficult—is it for them to meet their goals with your product or service? What was their most recent interaction with you like?

Understanding how customers feel about you from a variety of different perspectives is the only way to deliver the best possible experience to every user. 

Here are 3 separate metrics you can use to get different perspectives on your customer experience:

1. The Net Promoter Score® (NPS)

The NPS is the world’s leading metric for measuring customer loyalty. 

It comes from the question, “How likely would you be to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”, where the answer choices fall under a scale from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

Based on the responses that come back, respondents are segmented into the following groups:

  • Promoters (9 or 10 rating): Your happiest customers who are the most likely to buy more from you and refer your product/service to someone else.
  • Passives (7 or 8 rating): Relatively satisfied with your product or service, but a subtle change in your business—whether it’s product/service or pricing-related—or an improvement from a rival could cause them to leave you.
  • Detractors (0-6 rating): Your least happy customers who are not only likely to leave soon, but also tell others about the negative experiences they’ve had with your business.
Post-its clipped onto a rope, where each one has a unique score—from the NPS question—written on it.

Once all your responses from the NPS question come back and you’ve categorized each respondent as a Promoter, Passive, or Detractor, you can use the following formula to get your score

NPS = % of Promoters — % of Detractors

Note: To calculate the percentage of Promoters, find the total number of Promoters, divide it by the total number of respondents, and then multiply the result by 100. You’d apply the same logic to calculate the percentage of Detractors.

The result is an overall score that ranges from -100 (lowest) to +100 (highest). 

Try to measure the NPS regularly. We recommend measuring the NPS on a quarterly basis. Doing so allows you to track overall progress over time, and understand how specific individuals feel over the course of their time with you.

Pro tip: If you have a large customer base, ask the NPS question to a rotating group of customers frequently (e.g. monthly cadence). This way, you can still survey each customer quarterly but receive a more frequent stream of feedback.

To help you decide whether the NPS is for you, consider its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • It gives you a holistic understanding of how customers feel.
  • The metric is widely measured, so you can easily benchmark your score to see where you stand.
  • You can automatically calculate your score when you use the question in our Question Bank or ask it in one of our survey templates—like this one.

Cons:

  • The score in itself doesn’t explain the reasons behind customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. 
  • It doesn’t cast light on specific customer experiences.

For more guidance on measuring customer experience with the NPS, check out our guide on customer feedback. It provides the framework for helping your team routinely measure, analyze, and take action on your NPS data.

2. The customer effort score (CES)

Unlike the NPS, the customer effort score asks for feedback on a single customer experience. More specifically, it focuses on understanding how easy or difficult it was to solve an issue with your team. 

To measure it, simply ask, “[Your company] made it easy for me to handle my issue.” where you can include 5 answer choices that range from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree.”

To calculate the score, you’d first assign a numeric value to each choice. “Strongly agree” would receive a 1 rating, “Agree” would get a 2— all the way up to “Strongly disagree,” which would receive a 5. Then, you’d calculate your average score, where a lower average rating means—all else equal—an easier customer experience.

Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed out while working in an office

You can measure your customer effort score after an interaction with a support rep, or following a purchase.

Note: You can automatically survey customers after their conversations with support by integrating SurveyMonkey with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool. And you can embed your survey onto the purchase confirmation page to collect feedback on the ease of buying your product/service!

Before you decide whether or not to measure your CES, consider its strengths and weaknesses:

Pros:

  • It allows you to pinpoint how your product and/or service is performing in specific areas.
  • Easy for respondent to answer as it asks for feedback on something they recently experienced.
  • It’s simple to measure once the responses come back.

Cons:

  • It’s not as common as the NPS, making comparisons to other organizations’ customer effort scores less feasible.
  • It doesn’t allow you to understand how your overall customer experience is performing.
  • Effort is a subjective measure, where the result can depend on the customer’s personality, mood, and other factors.

Read more about performing customer experience analysis with the CES.

3. The customer satisfaction (CSAT) score

The CSAT question asks, ““How would you rate your experience with our (fill in the blank)?” with answer choices that range from very satisfied to very dissatisfied.

To get your CSAT score, take the number of respondents who are satisfied (they either selected the answer choices “satisfied” or “very satisfied”) and divide it by the total number of respondents. Then, multiply the result by 100 so it’s converted into a percentage.

Note: A higher percentage means a higher level of satisfaction.

Like the customer effort score, you can measure the CSAT score after a customer receives support from your team. Also, it can be effective to measure it at regular, time-based intervals. That way, you can easily track how you’re performing over time in a particular area.

Here are the top reasons to use—and avoid—the CSAT score:

Pros:

  • It’s easy to customize the question based on what you want to evaluate.
  • It’s a straightforward, simple question to answer.

Cons:

  • Unlike the NPS, the CSAT score doesn’t effectively gauge long-term customer loyalty. Instead, it leans more heavily on how the customer feels on a particular day or after a certain experience.
  • It’s not as common as the NPS, making comparisons to other organizations’ CSAT scores less feasible.

By using any of these 3 metrics for measuring customer experience, you’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of your clients. You can use this improved understanding to take measures that’ll make your clients happy and your bottom line even happier.

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