What is Customer Satisfaction? Definition and Examples

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a way for companies to gauge how well they are meeting their customers’ needs and expectations. It determines if customers are happy with what they purchased or the service they received. Companies aim to either meet or exceed these expectations to earn high satisfaction scores.

Cambridge Business English Dictionary defines it as: “a measure of how happy customers feel when they do business with a company.”

There are several theories to understand customer satisfaction better. A notable one is the “Expectancy Disconfirmation Theory“, which evaluates if a product or service lived up to, fell short of, or exceeded expectations. There are other valuable theories as well, each offering insights into customer sentiments.

However, measuring satisfaction isn’t always straightforward. When customers provide feedback, various factors, such as their current mood or memory, might influence their responses.

Many top marketing professionals find these measurements essential for their businesses. In today’s competitive market, ensuring customer satisfaction is vital, as it helps businesses stand out and plays a significant role in their strategic planning,

Importance of Customer Satisfaction

1. Loyalty and Repeat Business:

  • Retention over Acquisition: Studies have consistently shown that acquiring a new customer can cost up to five times more than retaining an existing one. When customers find a brand they trust and are satisfied with, they’re more inclined to return.
  • Building Trust: Continuously meeting or exceeding customer expectations leads to trust. Trust is the foundation for long-term relationships in business, just as in personal life.
  • Predictable Revenue: Loyal customers provide a steady stream of revenue. This predictability can be essential for businesses, especially in volatile markets or industries.

2. Word-of-Mouth Referrals:

  • Digital Era Influence: In today’s interconnected world, a single positive or negative review can reach thousands, if not millions. A customer’s network, especially on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, can significantly influence potential buyers.
  • Trust in Personal Recommendations: Despite the array of advertising methods available, people still place a high degree of trust in personal recommendations. When someone vouches for a product or service based on personal experience, it holds weight.
  • Free Marketing: When customers genuinely love a product or service, they talk about it without any prompting. This organic word-of-mouth is invaluable as it doesn’t cost the company a dime.

3. Standing Out in the Crowd:

  • Elevated Brand Perception: In a saturated market, businesses often struggle to differentiate themselves. A high CSAT score, indicative of customer satisfaction, can make a brand stand out and be recognized for its quality and trustworthiness.
  • Consumer Choice: Given two similar products, a customer is more likely to choose the one associated with higher satisfaction ratings. It’s a deciding factor in many purchase decisions.
  • Building a Reputation: Over time, consistently high customer satisfaction can cement a company’s reputation in the industry, making it a go-to choice for many consumers.

4. Economic Health:

  • Steady Sales: Satisfied customers often lead to repeat business. This recurring revenue ensures that a company has a steady inflow, helping in both lean and peak times.
  • Boosted Reviews: In today’s digital age, online reviews play a significant role in a consumer’s purchasing decision. Happy customers often leave positive reviews, further enticing potential customers.
  • Reduced Returns and Complaints: High satisfaction usually means the product or service met the customer’s needs. This reduces the likelihood of returns, saving businesses money and resources. It also reduces negative feedback and complaints, allowing the business to focus on growth rather than damage control.

Understanding and prioritizing these aspects of customer satisfaction can make all the difference in a company’s success and longevity.

Customer satisfaction data helps companies determine if there’s an issue with a product/service.

Measuring Your Customers

Getting to know how your customers feel about your product or service is vital, and the most direct way to learn this is simply to ask them. The concept of measuring customer satisfaction might sound technical, but even a lemonade stand can provide a tangible example.

Lemonade Stand Example

Imagine a young entrepreneur, Lucy, setting up her lemonade stand on a hot summer day. As the day progresses, many customers come by, from thirsty joggers to parents with their kids. Lucy recognizes the importance of knowing if her lemonade hits the mark. Here’s how she measures the pulse of her customers:

Feedback After Purchase

After serving a refreshing cup of lemonade, Lucy politely asks her customers, “Did you enjoy the lemonade?” This immediate feedback gives Lucy a hint about her drink’s quality and taste.

Scale-Based Surveys

Lucy goes a step further. Next to her cashbox, she has a small clipboard with a quick survey. It reads, “On a scale of 1-10, how refreshing was the lemonade?” This quantifiable approach gives Lucy a clearer idea about where she stands. A bunch of 8s, 9s, and 10s? She’s on the right track. Scores lower than 5? Maybe her mix needs some tweaking.

Feedback Forms

For her more regular customers, like the neighborhood kids, Lucy hands out simple feedback forms. These delve a bit deeper, asking about the right amount of sugar, the freshness of the lemon, and even suggestions for improvements or new flavors.

In-Person Chats

Lucy often engages in casual chats. “Too sweet? Too sour? Just right?” she’ll ask. Sometimes, these informal interactions provide the most valuable insights. A jogger might suggest adding a hint of mint for extra freshness, while a parent might appreciate a less sugary version for kids.

Analyzing Feedback

At the end of the day, Lucy sits down to review her feedback. She notices patterns. If multiple people found the lemonade too sweet, she might adjust her recipe. A recommendation for a new flavor, like raspberry lemonade, might be her next venture.

The importance of all this: Listen to customers. They are the ones who provide the insights that can drive improvements and, ultimately, success.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into how CSAT can be measured.

CSAT Scores

CSAT scores are a straightforward metric, Here’s a general rundown of typical CSAT scores:

  1. Scoring System: CSAT is usually measured using a point scale, typically ranging from 1 to 5 or 1 to 7, or sometimes even 1 to 10. Respondents rate their satisfaction, with higher scores indicating greater satisfaction.
  2. Calculation: The CSAT score is calculated by taking the sum of all positive responses and dividing it by the total number of responses. This number is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage score. For instance, if using a 5-point scale, responses of 4 and 5 might be considered positive.
  3. Typical Scores:
    • Above 80%: Generally seen as an excellent CSAT score. It means the vast majority of customers are satisfied.
    • 70% – 80%: Considered a good score, indicating most customers are satisfied. However, there’s room for improvement.
    • 60% – 70%: This is an average score, suggesting that while many customers are satisfied, a significant number are not. It’s essential to identify pain points and work on them.
    • Below 60%: This score indicates that more customers are dissatisfied than satisfied. Immediate action and a strategy overhaul are usually necessary.
  4. Industry Variances: It’s worth noting that ‘good’ CSAT scores can vary by industry. For instance, luxury hotels might have a higher average CSAT score than a budget airline. Knowing industry benchmarks can help a business set realistic targets.
  5. Interpreting Scores: While the percentage gives an immediate sense of customer sentiment, it’s crucial to dive deeper. Understanding the reasons behind the scores, especially low ones, is vital. Often, the comments section in CSAT surveys can provide rich insights.

Improving Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Scores

Improving customer satisfaction is essential for any business aiming for growth and success. If you’re looking for straightforward steps to enhance your CSAT, here they are:

  1. Listen Actively: Take feedback seriously. Whether it’s a casual comment or a detailed survey response, pay attention. Understanding what your customers want is the first step.
  2. Train Your Team: Ensure your staff understands the importance of customer satisfaction. They should be courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable. A well-trained team often leads to happy customers.
  3. Quick Response: If a customer has a complaint or a query, address it promptly. Delays can be frustrating. Even a simple acknowledgment can go a long way.
  4. Quality Over Everything: Always strive for the best in terms of product or service quality. It’s often better to offer fewer things of great quality than many things of mediocre quality.
  5. Regularly Update: Businesses evolve, and so do customer needs. Regularly review and update your products or services. Stay relevant.
  6. Rewards and Recognition: Consider introducing loyalty programs or occasional discounts. A small ‘thank you’ gesture can make customers feel valued.
  7. Transparency: Honesty is the best policy. If there’s a delay or an issue, communicate openly with the customer. They’ll appreciate the honesty.
  8. Seek Feedback: Actively seek out feedback, even if it’s criticism. Surveys, suggestion boxes, or face-to-face chats can be beneficial.
  9. Act on Feedback: It’s one thing to collect feedback and another to act on it. If multiple customers point out an issue, address it.
  10. Personalize Experience: Whenever possible, try to personalize the customer’s experience. Remembering a regular customer’s name or preference can create a more personal connection.

In essence, improving CSAT is about ensuring your customers feel heard, valued, and satisfied. It’s about combining quality products or services with top-notch customer care. If you keep the customer’s needs at the heart of your decisions, you’re already on the right path.


Customer Satisfaction is paramount. It’s a dynamic, ongoing process that requires attention, refinement, and sometimes, reinvention. By keeping a pulse on CSAT, you not only ensure the happiness of your customers but also pave the way for sustainable business growth. After all, at the heart of every successful business are contented, loyal customers.