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Customer satisfaction research? Everything you need to know

Learn all about conducting customer satisfaction research in this article.

What is customer satisfaction? 

Customer satisfaction is the degree to which customers are satisfied with an organization's product or service. Customer satisfaction expresses how well the organization has met the needs and expectations of the customer. The degree to which a customer is satisfied can vary from individual to individual and is often based on factors such as price, customer service, ease of use, and other relevant factors. In short, customer satisfaction is a measure of how positively or negatively a customer has experienced interacting with the company. 

What are the benefits of high customer satisfaction? 

High customer satisfaction offers several benefits to a business, including: 

  • Customer loyalty. The biggest advantage is that satisfied customers are less likely to switch to a competitor. In other words, higher customer satisfaction leads to higher customer loyalty. 

  • Word of mouth. Happy customers often tell positive stories about their experiences to friends, family, and colleagues. This generates free word-of-mouth recitation. Several studies have shown that this form of marketing is the holy grail, as it appears that word-of-mouth is the most effective and most often leads to new customers. 

  • Repeat purchases. Customers who are satisfied with a product or service are more likely to buy from the same company again. This increases revenue and ensures a stable revenue stream. Apart from that, it also saves costs. For example, it often costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. 

  • Fewer complaints and returns. Satisfied customers are less likely to file complaints or return products. This results in direct cost savings, due to the fact that handling complaints and returns costs a lot of time and money. 

  • Improved company reputation. Positive customer satisfaction contributes to a good reputation for the company. We often see this in brand identity studies. A better reputation also helps businesses gain the trust of customers when they launch new products or services. 

What is customer satisfaction research? 

Customer satisfaction research is conducted to determine customer satisfaction with a product or service. It provides insight into how satisfied customers are and what the underlying reasons are. By conducting a customer satisfaction study, it becomes clear how companies can improve their products and services. In short, customer satisfaction research provides insight into customer satisfaction at a certain time and provides concrete tools for improving customer satisfaction in the future. 

Why companies conduct customer satisfaction research 

There are several advantages to conducting customer satisfaction research: 

  • Informative insights. Customer satisfaction research offers a wealth of valuable information, especially when different research methods are combined. It gives companies insight into how customers perceive them and how they can improve the customer experience. 

  • Data-driven decisions. Conducting customer satisfaction research ensures that decisions can be made based on objective data rather than assumptions and gut feelings. 

  • Insight into strengths and weaknesses. Customer satisfaction surveys not only show what the company's weaknesses are, but also its strengths. Where the weaknesses can be used as a starting point for implementing optimizations, the strengths can be emphasized in marketing communications. 

Methods for measuring customer satisfaction 

Measuring customer satisfaction can be done in different ways. Below are the most commonly used methods: 

  • Surveys. The most traditional and common method of measuring customer satisfaction is surveys. Various aspects can be asked and measured in surveys. Think of things such as the customer experience, product quality, customer-friendliness, delivery time and other things. 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS). While there are several metrics that can be collected from customer satisfaction studies, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the most popular metric. This metric measures the extent to which people are inclined to recommend the product or service to others. 

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). The CSAT is another well-known metric when conducting customer satisfaction surveys. This metric provides direct insight into how satisfied customers are with the products and services that the company offers. 

  • Interviews. To get a good idea of overall customer satisfaction, it is advisable to conduct interviews with customers as well. In this way, you gather additional insights that can help you better interpret customer satisfaction. 

  • Online reviews. The reviews about the company that are posted online are analysed and examined. Apart from reviews on external websites, it is also possible to place widgets on your own website so that additional insights can be collected. 

  • Complaint analysis. This involves analysing the complaints submitted by customers. In this way, the weak spots can be quickly identified. 

  • Focus groups. In focus groups, participants are encouraged to have discussions based on predetermined topics. Setting up focus groups often provides a lot of extra contexts. 

  • Transactional feedback forms. Collecting feedback immediately after a specific interaction, such as after a purchase or customer service call, provides insight into immediate experiences. 

It is also advisable to combine different methods in customer satisfaction research. In this way, additional insights are gathered, and you will get a more holistic picture.

Conduct your own customer satisfaction study 

Do you want to conduct a customer satisfaction study yourself? Then take a look at the step-by-step plan below. 

Step 1: Determine objectives and scope 

  • Get started with the objectives and clearly define the project. What exactly do you want to know? 

  • Identify the key aspects of the customer experience you want to evaluate (e.g., product quality, customer service, delivery). 

Step 2: Choose the research method 

  • Select the most appropriate research method (surveys, NPS, interviews, online reviews, etc.) based on your goals and the resources you have at your disposal. 

  • Consider using a combination of methods for a broader perspective. 

Step 3: Setting up research tools 

  • Get started with the research tools associated with the research method you have chosen. 

  • Make sure the questions are clear, unambiguous, and avoid suggestive phrasing that could influence the answers. Have your questionnaire, interview guide or topic list checked by someone who is not directly involved with the project. 

Step 4: Data collection and analysis 

  • Get the fieldwork started and invite customers to participate in the survey. Provide a representative sample, for example by working with cohorts or customer segments. 

  • Analyse the collected data to identify trends and patterns. 

  • Consider both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis, depending on the nature of the data collected. 

Step 5: Conclusions and action plan 

  • Draw conclusions based on the analysis and assess how well the company meets customer expectations. 

  • Get started with creating action items. If necessary, give advice on how the improvements can be implemented. 

  • Communicate the findings and the intended actions within the organization and implement the necessary changes. 

Examples and templates 

Examples of questions

  • Customer satisfaction. How satisfied are you with your overall experience with our company/product/service? (scale 1 - 10) 

  • Quality of product/service. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the quality of our product/service?   

  • Customer service. How would you rate our customer service based on your recent interactions? (open-ended question / scale) 

  • User-friendliness. To what extent does our product/service meet your expectations in terms of user-friendliness? (open-ended question / scale) 

  • Value for money. To what extent is the price of the product/service fair in relation to the quality? (open-ended question / scale) 

Download customer satisfaction research examples 

Download our free samples and templates for conducting customer satisfaction research.

Expert tips and pitfalls 

Below, we'll give you tips on how to conduct customer satisfaction research. We will also explain to you what the most common pitfalls are and how you can overcome them. 

Tips for customer satisfaction research 

Simple and clear language 

Use simple words and avoid jargon. Consider writing everything at the B1 language level so that the research is accessible to everyone. This helps to obtain accurate and unbiased answers. This benefits your data quality. 

Work with customer segments and cohorts 

Have you conducted persona research before? Then it is advisable to include it when you get started with customer satisfaction surveys. For example, you want to ensure that every customer group has their say. By identifying specific customer groups, you can make targeted improvements that better meet the needs of different customer segments. 

Make use of open-ended questions 

Add open-ended questions to your survey to give customers the opportunity to provide more in-depth feedback. Open-ended questions can provide in-depth insight into the specific reasons behind the answers provided and uncover hidden pain points. Especially when you don't conduct interviews or focus groups, it is advisable to add open-ended questions. 


Pitfalls of customer satisfaction surveys 

Too much focus on either positive or negative feedback: 

When conducting customer satisfaction surveys, you are interested in positives and negatives. Be sure to ask neutral questions and focus on both identifying positives and negatives in the analysis, so that they are both represented in the report. 

No follow-up with customers 

Not actively communicating the results and the actions taken after the study can damage customer trust. Sharing next steps shows commitment to customer feedback and shows that the company is listening and acting. Therefore, make sure that you already have a plan for follow-up when the study is designed. 

Over-focus on digital channels 

Relying solely on online surveys can exclude certain demographics, such as older customers who are less likely to participate online. Therefore, use a wide range of research methods so that all groups are addressed. This includes interviews, focus groups and face-to-face conversations.