The Many Choices When Measuring Service


Share on LinkedIn

How do you measure customer service in your organization? Like anything, there’s several popular methods. Some of the most popular are customer satisfaction (or CSAT), Net Promoter Score (or NPS), and customer effort (occasionally abbreviated to CE but not often). Let’s take a closer look at each.

CSAT scoring typically uses a five-point scale to measure how satisfied a customer is with a product or service. There might simply be one question (such as “How would you rate your experience with your most recent customer service interaction?”) or several questions, inclusive of the product/service the customer is using as well as the details of their customer service interaction with the agent. Wikipedia provides more details.

CSATs are great measurements for a broad view and can be inclusive of both product and service. They are a short-term, one-time measure and specific to a single interaction.

NPS takes a very different approach than CSATs. For one thing, it is a single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” though many companies follow that with an open-ended question requesting the reasons for a customer’s rating to get at more meaningful details. As opposed to CSAT, it uses a larger ten-point scale. It’s also a trademarked approach. Again, Wikipedia can provide a more in-depth look.

NPS differs from CSAT in that is specifically measuring how likely a customer will purchase again in the future (or in other words remain loyal to your company). As such, it is also considered a longer-term measurement. The question being generic, it is not easy to identify actionable improvement areas without the open-ended follow-up question, nor is there any real proof respondents who fall into the category of “Promoters” would actually recommend the company’s products or services.

Customer Effort
A Harvard Business Review article in 2010 introduced the idea of measuring customer effort – how much work did it take to get an answer. Research by the CEB (now a part of Gartner) resulted in two interesting findings:

Delighting customers has no impact on building loyalty; instead, reducing the work necessary to resolve an issue does.
Taking note of effort areas indicated by customers and addressing them helps improve customer service, decrease customer service costs, and reduce customer churn.

Similar to NPS, Customer Effort is often measured with a single statement (“The organization made it easy for me to handle my issue.”) and responses measure the customer’s level of agreement with that statement. What’s considered unique to Customer Effort is that it can measure both live as well as online or self-service options. Like NPS, without a follow-on question as to what part(s) of the service caused the most effort, it might be challenging for a company to make improvements.

What To Use?
CSATs, NPS, and Customer Effort all take a slightly different approach and measure different aspects of your business. When deciding which to use, consider the following:

Are the issues I’m concerned with individual interactions (best measured with CSAT), long-term customer loyalty (consider NPS here) or disconnects in my various services (Customer Effort)?
Is my survey short, to the point and easy for customers to respond to (promoting a higher response rate)?
Is the resulting data actionable?

Periodically ask yourself these three questions and adjust your approach as needed. This will help ensure you are receiving regular, meaningful customer input you can take steps to address. Good luck!

Paul Selby
I am a product marketing consultant for Aventi Group. Aventi Group is the first product marketing agency solely dedicated to high-tech clients. We’re here to supplement your team and bring our expertise to bear on your top priorities, so you achieve high-quality results, fast.


  1. Great info Paul. I like the breakdown between the three ways to measure service and get customer feedback. Simple and to the point. Thanks for an excellent article.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here