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CSAT vs. NPS: definitions, differences, and which one is better

Fatima Puri
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CSAT and NPS surveys are essential for businesses as studies show that customer satisfaction and loyalty are directly linked to revenue. Specifically, loyal customers spend 67 percent more than new ones, and satisfied customers are 81 percent more likely to do business with you again.

While CSAT and NPS surveys measure customer experience and satisfaction, the two have fundamental differences.

Our guide will describe these two survey types in detail, outline their differences, and share which is better depending on your company's needs.

What is CSAT?

Customer satisfaction score surveys, more commonly known as CSAT, measure the degree to which customers are satisfied with a specific experience, product, or interaction with a business.

It’s best to send CSAT surveys after significant touchpoints like after a recent purchase or customer service touchpoint. For example, a ride-hailing company may ask customers to rate their driver after exiting the vehicle. Or, a landscaping business may ask customers how satisfied they are with its services.

An example of a CSAT survey.

Customers are given a scale to indicate their level of satisfaction. While the scales vary, many  CSAT surveys measure satisfaction on a scale of one to five, with one being very unsatisfied and five being very satisfied. In addition, some companies prefer to use emojis, from a frowning face to a smiling one.

According to HubSpot, while CSAT scores vary by industry, a good score will typically fall between 75 and 85 percent. 

Read our article “What is CSAT? Pros, cons, when to use, and how to calculate” to learn more about CSAT surveys. 

What is NPS?

Net promoter score surveys, also known as NPS, are single-question surveys that measure customer loyalty. 

Customers are asked how likely they’d recommend a company to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0-10. From there, companies can calculate their overall NPS, which ranges from -100 to 100, with the higher score being better. 

Bain & Company, the creator of the NPS survey, says that scores above zero are good, while those above 20 are favorable, and over 50 are excellent. 

Companies should send NPS surveys during neutral points in the buyer's journey. The goal is to ensure experiences don’t impact the data, so it’s best not to send an NPS survey immediately after an action is taken. Instead, consider sending one seven to 30 days after a customer’s interaction with your company. 

For example, you can send an NPS survey one week post-purchase or service. Or, you can send it to clients a few weeks after a meeting or renewal period.

You can learn more about NPS surveys by reading our article “What is NPS? Pros, cons, when to use, and how to calculate.”

What’s the difference between CSAT and NPS?

The main difference between a CSAT and NPS survey is that CSAT surveys are a short-term indicator of customer satisfaction. In contrast, NPS surveys are a long-term indicator of customer loyalty and how likely customers are to recommend your business to friends and colleagues.  

Another way to think about CSAT and NPS is that NPS surveys provide a macro-view of how your customers perceive your business, whereas CSAT surveys provide a micro-view. 

Customers' satisfaction with your product or service does not mean they’re loyal to your brand. Likewise, loyal customers are not always satisfied with your products or services.

Here's a graphic that depicts the main differences between CSAT and NPS. This includes what is considered a good score from customers and what each one measures.

The difference between CSAT and NPS surveys.

What’s better: CSAT or NPS?

CSAT and NPS surveys serve different purposes, which means one isn’t better than the other. But there are instances where it’s best to send one type of survey over the other. 

It’s best to send a CSAT after any meaningful touchpoint in the buyer journey. For example, after a customer speaks with a representative to resolve an issue or immediately after making a purchase. 

On the other hand, it’s better to send an NPS survey during a lull period in the customer buyer journey. For example, you can send an NPS survey to customers a few days or weeks after interacting with your company — from buying a product or measuring brand perception after releasing major company news.

The bottom line

In short, CSAT and NPS are both beneficial customer surveys that serve different purposes. Companies should use the surveys in conjunction with each other to best learn about their customers’ experiences and make improvements.

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