Customer Satisfaction Metrics: 6 metrics you need to be tracking

A recent benchmarking study commissioned by Autotask has found that 85% of service providers rank customer satisfaction as a high-priority metric. What’s interesting is that only 10% of these companies actively use customer satisfaction metrics and only 9.5% rank themselves as ‘excellent at gathering customer data’.

So what does that all mean?

I believe what that tells us is service providers want to use customer satisfaction metrics to measure satisfaction but just don’t know how.

In this post I’m going to be taking you through six customer satisfaction metrics you can use to start measuring your company’s customer satisfaction. I will also go into detail as to how you can track these metrics.

  • Customer expectations vs perception
  • Likelihood to recommend to friends
  • Customer experience vs ideal experience
  • Overall satisfaction
  • Affective and cognitive satisfaction
  • Repeat purchase intention


Before I get stuck into things, let’s take a look at why you should be measuring customer satisfaction.

Measuring customer satisfaction metrics has been seen as the solution to the customer loyalty problem. R.L. Oliver’s Expectations Confirmation Theory held that customer satisfaction could be defined by measuring the gap between the customer’s expectations and his or her perception of whether those expectations had been met.

It was thought that as long as you met or exceeded your customers’ expectations, they would be a satisfied customer. And… as a satisfied customer, they would continue to do business with you.

Well, it’s actually not that easy. In 1995, a Harvard Business Review article by Thomas Jones and Earl Sasser Jr. came up with the “satisfied customers defect.” This theory debunked the clout of customer satisfaction. One particular example showed an analysis of banking customers over a one year period which found 6% of ‘extremely satisfied customers’ closed their accounts whilst 5.8% of ‘unsatisfied customers’ closed their accounts.

Nearly identical!!!

Thomas Jones and Earl Sasser Jr. showed that customer satisfaction couldn’t be used solely to track customer loyalty, and in fact – you should be looking at a range of customer satisfaction metrics to gauge a better understanding of your customers and their loyalty.

Keeping that in mind, I set out and researched the six metrics you should be implementing to accurately measure your customer satisfaction.


1. Customer expectation vs perception

Ask your customers: Does our service live up to your expectations?

This metric is pretty straight forward.

The respondents should be asked to agree or disagree with each statement using a five-point scale, where a one indicates “strongly disagree” and a five indicates “strongly agree.”


2. Likelihood to recommend to friends

Ask your customers:  How likely would you be to recommend our company’s service to a friend?

This is an age-old question which companies have been using for decades and is a question used in Client Heartbeat surveys. It gives a great representation of how happy your customers are. Research and theory backs up the fact that if your customers are willing to put their reputation on the line to recommend you, they also trust you and are satisfied with your service.


3. Customer experience vs ideal experience

Ask your customers:  How does our service compare to your ‘ideal’ service?

Use this customer satisfaction metric to really understand whether your service meets the needs and wants of your customers. This is a great question that comes off as passive but can give you extremely good insight into your customers.


4. Overall satisfaction

Ask your customers:  Overall, how satisfied are you with our company?

This question reflects the customers ‘overall’ satisfaction with your service. This can be an open-ended question and you should be looking for mentions of quality, reliability and customer fulfilment.

Scott Smith from Qualtrics believes that these three indicators are the greatest predictors of customer satisfaction.


5. Affective and cognitive satisfaction

Ask your customers: How important are our SLAs (service level agreements) in your decision to select our company?

Affect is basically liking or disliking something. It is best measured in context of your service benefits. For example – SLAs, response times etc. Customer satisfaction is influenced by perceived quality of these benefits.

Cognition refers to judgement – was the product useful or not? Did it fit the situation or not? Judgements are often specific to the intended use of the service.


6. Repeat purchase intention

Ask your customers: Do you intend to renew your contract when it ends?

Customer satisfaction can influence customers on whether they will renew their contracts or purchase more products from you.

By asking them directly, you can gauge a good indication on how satisfied they are with your company and see whether they will continue doing business with you.


Track customer satisfaction by looking at the metrics

There it is… six customer satisfaction metrics you can start using to track satisfaction.  I recommend you start putting together some KPI’s around these metrics whilst also tracking them alongside renewal rates. This way you’ll have a much better understanding of exactly how satisfied your customers are.

Gordon Tan

Gordon Tan is an entrepreneur based in Australia who has started and sold multiple technology companies with a combined value of $150m. This included a client satisfaction benchmarking platform which gave him first hand insight into the best practices of over 6,000 businesses. After retiring at 35 he is now a recognised thought leader on winning and retaining clients - His two passions: making clients the heartbeat of a business no matter what the product or service and this blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About this blog

The Client Heartbeat Blog will teach you how to create happier customers.

Get actionable tips to improve customer happiness. One email per week.