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What Is Customer Satisfaction Software?

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More and more, every company is in the customer satisfaction business, no matter what you make or sell.

Every part of your business—sales, marketing, customer support, operations, and product—should be involved in making sure customers feel satisfied, because satisfied customers are loyal customers.

Research from RightNow shows that 86% of customers quit doing business with a company due to a poor customer experience. So, it’s important you focus on tracking customer satisfaction to find ways to increase satisfaction.

Why tracking customer satisfaction is more important than ever

Customer satisfaction is especially important for the businesses Gartner Analyst Michael Maziarka refers to as “technology and service providers (TSPs)” in the report “Tech Go-to-Market: Five Steps to Build a Customer Success Function to Renew and Grow Existing Client Revenue” (full content available to Gartner clients).

According to Maziarka, TSPs are moving away from selling products in the form of on-premise/self-hosted solutions with a one-time fee structure. Instead, they’re moving toward a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, taking advantage of the recurring revenue and lower barrier to purchase that subscription-based pricing models provide.

However, the challenge for any business with low switching costs is, well—it’s easy to switch.

Maziarka references a 2016 Gartner survey in which 41% of respondents said they did not intend to renew—or weren’t ready to commit to renewing—their current contracts with their technology provider.

This high turnover rate is a problem because loyal customers are more profitable. According to one Office of Consumer Affairs study, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as the value of their first purchase, on average.

Measuring customer satisfaction requires running surveys, which requires survey software. Generic survey software can do the job, but lacks functionality specific to measuring customer satisfaction, like question suggestions and advanced reporting, especially over time. It’s best to either use software dedicated to customer satisfaction surveys or the surveying functionality built into your help desk software or customer service software.

In What is Customer Satisfaction? A Quick-and-Dirty Guide, we learned that the term “customer satisfaction” just means whether and to what extent a product or service met, failed to meet, or exceeded a user’s expectations.

A customer satisfaction (CSat) score is a number that represents the percentage of customers who feel you excelled during their last time interaction with you.

According to “Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance,” 71% of the nearly 200 senior marketing managers surveyed say they find a customer satisfaction metric, such as CSat, very useful in managing and monitoring their businesses.

CSat isn’t the only industry-standard measure though. Some people prefer Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES), to name two, and have great reasons for their preference.

(Learn more: “What Are CES, NPS, and CSAT? Understanding When to Use Which.”)

Strategy before software

In the Gartner report “Satisfaction Surveys: You’ve Measured It, Now What?” (full content available to Gartner clients), analysts Heather Colella, John P. Roberts, and Jeffrey M. Brooks note that many organizations begin measuring customer satisfaction before they’ve determined a goal for the survey or how they plan to use the results to improve the business. In addition, many don’t tell survey takers what their answers will be used for.

This lack of transparency is demotivating to participants and lowers the response rate—no one wants to take time to fill out a survey that no one is going to act on. (The Gartner analysts looked specifically at surveys IT administered to their users, but their findings and advice are broadly applicable.)

Before you buy software:

  • Decide exactly what you hope to learn
  • Have a plan for the data you gather
  • Share that plan with your users

According to “8 Customer Satisfaction Software Tools (Comparison & Review)” by Ross Beard, you can’t get by with customer satisfaction software that only measures the customer experience; you also need software that makes the customer experience better.

Once you know what you want to learn and what you’re going to do with your survey results, you can start making tactical decisions based on your goals.

For instance, maybe you want to compare your results with those of other companies. If so, you should use Net Promoter Score instead of CSat.

On the other hand, maybe you just want to measure your results against yourself over time, for example, before and after implementing CX changes. In that case a CSat survey, or maybe even something simpler would work better.

Once you know what kind of survey you’re going to use, you must decide when to send it out. On GetFeedback’s blog, Kimberly Powell suggests sending users a CSat survey after:

  • New customer onboarding
  • Each interaction with a customer support rep
  • Each interaction with a sales rep
  • Conferences or other events
  • Each online checkout interaction

Once you have a solid strategy in place, then it’s time to start looking at software.

What to look for in customer satisfaction software

Okay, so what should you take into consideration when comparing the options for customer satisfaction software? Here are a few capabilities to look for:

Suggested survey questions

Does the software recommend questions that are tailored toward measuring customer satisfaction?

Client Heartbeat, for example, suggests questions that are based on what others are asking within your industry. You choose four prewritten questions per survey, and then customize them to your liking. Then Client Heartbeat adds two more questions to your now-six-question survey in order to boost response rates.

This is part of why Client Heartbeat gets response rates of over 65%. SurveyMonkey’s survey response rates on average range between 5-15%, which is pretty standard for the industry.

Visual representations to easily measure success

Does the software show you at a glance whether scores have gone up or down from one survey to the next?

Client Heartbeat also shows performance over time, so you can know with some authority that a CX initiative was successful.

Customer satisfaction scores over time in Client Heartbeat

AskNicely tracks performance over time as well.

User dashboard in AskNicely

Results you can drill down into

Do the software’s reports make it easy to pinpoint areas of dissatisfaction?

You should also be able to drill down and discover what dissatisfied and satisfied customers have in common. You should be able to see their purchase history, their past interactions with support, their job title, and their industry.

Going forward

Customer experience is increasingly important for customer loyalty, word-of-mouth, online reviews, and overall revenue.

Measuring customer satisfaction requires running surveys, which requires survey software. Once you know what you want to measure and what you’re going to do with the results, it’s time to look for customer satisfaction software. When comparing your options, look for customer satisfaction software that makes it easy to ask good questions, measure success, drill down into results, and find areas of dissatisfaction.

And don’t forget to read reviews to find software that is easy to use and easy to learn and has high-quality, responsive customer service.

Looking for Customer Satisfaction software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Satisfaction software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at cathy@capterra.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.

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