Choosing a survey methodology – NPS, CSAT, CES
In the customer experience world, there is no shortage of acronyms representing various survey methodologies — CSAT, NPS, CES, CXi, etc. — as well as plenty of claims and counter-claims about which one is the best. Figuring out which method is right for your business is not an easy question to answer, but here’s some high-level information to help you make the right choice.
Let’s start with a quotation from Bruce Tempkin, Researcher & Co-Founder of CXPA.org, “There is no ultimate question, none. And that’s because one, every business is different and they need to get feedback that’s appropriate for their business, and two, the value is not in asking the question, the value is in taking action based on the insights that you find.”
Feedback to action! Yes, the Clicktools motto, superbly articulated by Mr. Tempkin. So, as you examine survey methodologies, start with the end in mind. Think about how you’ll be able to act on the feedback in order to improve your business. That’s the goal of your enterprise feedback program.
As mentioned above, there are many methods to choose from, but for our purposes here, let’s just look at the most widely used three: NPS, CSAT, and CES.
Net Promoter Score® (NPS®)
Fred Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), the first and most widely known survey methodology, determines customer loyalty. NPS originally attracted attention because of its simplicity and claimed links to financial performance. This method was certainly instrumental in the wider adoption and popularity of customer-centric strategies, but NPS has also been widely criticized.
The purist approach to NPS suggests a two-question survey: 1) How likely are you to recommend [Company] to a friend or colleague? [zero to 10 scale] and 2) Why did you give that score?
The responses to the first question are categorized:
– Zero to six: Detractor
– Seven or eight: Passive
– Nine or 10: Promoter
The Net Promoter Score is calculated as % Promoters – % Detractors.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
CSAT determines how a company meets customer expectations based on satisfaction measurements. CSAT surveys ask how satisfied customers are with the company, usually immediately following a transaction, by choosing from a 1-5 scale (1 – very dissatisfied to 5 – very satisfied). The question most people use is: “Overall, how satisfied are you with [Company]?” This question is almost always part of a wider survey testing key attributes of the customer experience. This method is widely used but like NPS has received its share of criticism, mostly due to its lack of detail and because it’s a loosely defined methodology.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
The newest player on the scene, CES, is the product of US research and advisory firm Corporate Executive Board (CEB), which began its CX research in 2008. This research focused on how the commoditization of products was forcing customer service into the limelight as a differentiator.
CES seeks to gain a customer perspective with the question, “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue” using a seven point ‘Strongly Disagree – Strongly Agree’ scale. Additional questions can be used to identify the sources of high-effort scores.
CES measures the impact of customer service on loyalty using four principles:
– Delight doesn’t pay: Exceeding expectations generates virtually no additional loyalty compared with customers where expectations are met.
– Satisfaction is not a predictor of loyalty: The research showed only a weak relationship between a customer’s satisfaction and her future loyalty.
– Service interactions drive disloyalty: A customer service interaction is four times more likely to drive disloyalty than to drive loyalty.
– Reducing customer effort is the key: Minimizing the effort a customer has to make is the best way to minimize disloyalty.
As you compare methods, keep in mind that despite the controversy, NPS is still widely held as a great relationship metric and a very nice compliment to CES. Willingness to recommend is a strong indicator of how your customer feels, generally speaking. As for CSAT, it too is a good gauge on customer satisfaction, but will likely not predict loyalty as well as CES. The best advice is to avoid any measurement tool used in isolation. Rather, consider integrating your methods to generate a fuller picture of the customer experience.
For the record, I feel obliged to say that we at Clicktools are methodology agnostic and work with customers to implement any method that works for them. Our experts are happy to help, if you’re not sure how to start or improve your feedback program.