6 Tips to Creating an Effective CSAT Survey in Your Contact Center



Unfortunately, the word "survey" has become synonymous with annoying, waste-of-time, and don't bother me. But asking customers for a "review," where they evaluate the hotel, restaurant, or almost any retailer they visited, is regarded as helpful, reliable, or sometimes even golden. Why has survey become a dirty word? Most reasonable people dislike surveys because, we are bombarded with requests to take them, the questions asked are irrelevant, and, we are pleaded with and coerced by sales associates to give them the highest possible rating or their kids might not be able to go to college.

Although the above is true, collecting feedback is crucial to ensure your contact center's success. No matter how many internal mechanisms your department has in place to monitor and evaluate the customer interaction, there is no substitute for collecting data and gaining insight from the customers' point of view.

Below are 6 tips that are critical for creating an effective CSAT survey in your contact center:

Step 1: Define the survey objectives.

There is a saying among good contractors: measure twice, cut once. It is imperative to determine your survey objectives before you take the customers' time. Your goal is to measure the pulse of the customer. Too often the survey is executed without intentionally designing its purpose first. Create a list of priorities. To define your objectives, start with these questions:

  • Do you want to measure the performance of your outsourcer?
  • Do you want to learn how your service levels compare to your competitors?
  • Do you want to understand how your department impacts the purchasing intent and loyalty of your consumers?
  • Do you want to prove or disprove a theory?

Step 2: Determine the methodology.

The most common CSAT survey methodologies include post-call IVRs, email, telephone, text message, or website pop-ups. Each methodology has strengths and weaknesses. Email surveys are the most convenient for customers to complete and generally get a higher response rate and more in-depth information. Telephone surveys are extremely difficult to conduct with the reduced number of landlines and customers hesitating to answer when they don't recognize the number. IVR solicitations produce a negligible percent of responses, lack comments, and are not a reliable look at true customer satisfaction. Sometimes, however, it is the only alternative. Ultimately, the best methodology depends on your technological capabilities and objectives; a mixed methodology just might be the best approach.

Step 3: Develop the survey questions.

Designing CSAT survey questions is a delicate mix of art and science. Here are some useful guidelines to get you started:

  • Ask about only one attribute per question. In other words, don't ask the respondent to rate whether an employee was nice and helpful in the same question because you will get confused and inaccurate responses.
  • Avoid using jargon and in-house terminology. If you don't speak your customers' language it is impossible for them to evaluate your service.
  • Use rating scales that make sense. Ask customers to rate satisfaction when you want to learn about satisfaction or use yes/no questions when appropriate. Make the higher number the most positive rating.
  • Don't just ask how respondents rate something, ask them why they feel that way. If you truly want to make improvements, pick a few key questions and ask why they chose that rating.
  • If you're not going to make changes or use the data from a question, don't ask it. It can be tempting to ask a lot of questions, but if you can't or won't do anything with the information, don't waste the customers' time.

Step 4: Choose your sample population.

It's important to determine the sample population relevant to your survey. Depending on your objectives, it might also be valuable to target your sample by some key demographics. Some of the demographic considerations might be reason for contact, contact channel, representative, or brand.

The more you want to slice and dice your data, the bigger those individual sample sizes need to be. However, ask yourself if it's necessary to increase sample size by those targets. It's OK if the results are directional; you will still see statistically significant differences. At a composite level, you only need about 300 completed surveys for the results to be considered statistically valid.

Step 5: Review and share the results.

After you've fielded the survey, you need to take the time to analyze the results and share your findings. You can do any or all of the following:

  • Use Excel to pivot, filter, and sort;
  • Review verbatim comments for trends;
  • Develop presentations that are appropriate to your audience; and
  • Share the results beyond just your team, with management and with the representatives.

Step 6: Implement changes/process improvements.

Once you've completed all of that, the next steps should include the following:

  • Review findings and generate ideas to create a list of continuous improvement ideas based on the data;
  • Narrow your list to two to five ideas that will not add costs; and
  • Prioritize your ideas into short-term and long-term tasks.

Remember, customers don't mind spending their time helping the companies with which they do business if it will help those companies do a better job of servicing them. But surveying just for the sake of surveying is a waste of everyone's time. To create an effective CSAT survey, take your time and be thoughtful about what and who you're asking. Your contact center will do an even better job of building loyalty if you have an efficient survey process in place and that process produces changes beneficial to your customers.


Richard Shapiro is founder and president of the Center for Client Retention.