Insights|CSAT vs NPS – Which One Should I Use?

CSAT vs NPS – Which One Should I Use?

If customer experience (CX) is your brand’s biggest differentiator, what metric should you be using to make sure you’re delivering on expectations and staying ahead of the competition?

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csat vs nps
by Sitel staff July 29, 2019 - 3 MIN READ

When it comes to gauging how your customers feel about your brand, the two most popular measures for understanding if touch points are creating pain points or if you’re doing enough to maintain and build loyalty are CSAT and NPS, but what are they and which one is the best?

What is CSAT?

A Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey is the simplest way of gauging what your customers think about any interaction, across any channel, they have with your organization. Whether it’s speaking to a customer service representative at the contact center, navigating the website or using an app, a CSAT survey asks customers to rate the experience in question on a three-point, five-point or seven-point scale.

The fact that it’s a single-question survey and can be answered by checking a box, typing a single number or selecting an emoji means that it can be sent via any channel. However, with CSAT, speed is of the essence – it should be sent as quickly as possible to measure the moment, while that moment is still fresh in the customer’s mind.

A real-time measure

Because CSAT surveys provide instant feedback about any point on the customer journey, they give your organization a real-time picture of the touch points that are performing well and those where improvements are needed.

They can highlight if there are differences in the quality of service across different channels for instance, or if individual customer service representatives need further training. They can also provide insight regarding your products or services – perhaps all unsatisfied customers have bought the same item or are all signed up to the same type of contract or subscription.

Everyone’s satisfaction levels are different

In terms of drawbacks, as with any survey, those that have something to say – i.e., they had a very good or a very bad experience – are most likely to complete a CSAT survey. Likewise, everyone has a different definition of satisfaction. There are also those within the industry who point out the term ‘satisfaction’ is itself a problem. If you’re aiming to satisfy, rather than to delight or to wow, you’re aiming too low.

What’s NPS?

Just like with CSAT a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey asks recipients a single question. But rather than focus on rating an individual interaction, NPS asks the customer on a scale of 0-10, how likely he or she is to recommend your organization to someone they know, based on their end-to-end experience.

Because they ask the customer to rate their overall experience, NPS surveys should be used sparingly on no more than a quarterly basis, and should be sent to a random group of customers for the best insights.

Detractor, passive or promoter

In terms of how they function, customers responding with a score from 0-to-six are brand detractors and are likely to actively dissuade people they know from doing business with you. Those giving you a seven or eight are considered passive. They won’t dissuade people from doing business with you, but they’re unlikely to actively promote your brand either.

That leaves promoters, the customers who rate the brand with a nine or a 10 and will be talking about you positively to those they know.

Because there are 10 points of variation in the study, NPS surveys should also include an open-ended question that encourages customers to explain how they arrived at their score. This qualitative data can be hugely important, particularly for understanding the motivations of detractors.


Once all surveys have been completed, the NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Over the course of a year, if CSAT scores are going up, then the NPS score should also move upwards, in line with company performance.

If used properly, NPS surveys help to segment your customer base identifying which types of customer are ready to churn and which ones could be nurtured into becoming brand advocates. They’re also a good way for the C-Suite to gauge the market and measure if projected company performance is in line with the reality of the customer base.

CSAT vs NPS – which one should I use?

With CSAT you can measure how customers feel about your business, interaction by interaction, while NPS provides a view of how your end-to-end customer experience stacks up. Therefore the answer is the two metrics are complementary. CSAT enables you to fine-tune the various elements within your CX to remove pain points and to identify best practice.

NPS then offers a global view of whether the individual acts of fine-tuning are working to create an overall positive experience. 

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