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Customer satisfaction: what it is, why it matters, and ways to improve it

Increasing your customer satisfaction rates isn’t as simple as sending out a survey every once in a while. Truly understanding customer satisfaction means building an informed strategy and measuring your success using dedicated tools and tactics. 

It’s worth the effort: learning how to improve customer satisfaction helps you empathize with your users, refine your value offer, increase revenue, decrease acquisition costs, and so much more.

Last updated

3 Aug 2022

Reading time

11 min


Not sure where to start with improving your customers' satisfaction—or why it really matters? We’re here to help! In this article, we show you which customer satisfaction pitfalls to avoid and walk you through seven actionable steps to increase customer satisfaction with your product or service.

Ready to start improving your customer satisfaction?

Hotjar gives you the tools to understand your users and boost your customer satisfaction ratings

What is customer satisfaction—and why does it matter?

Customer satisfaction describes how happy customers are with a company’s products, services, and overall experience. Customer satisfaction is important to grow your business and understand user needs

Note: customer satisfaction is slightly different from both customer loyalty (the continuous relationship between a customer and a business) and customer delight (the practice of exceeding customer expectations).

Here are the top five reasons your customer satisfaction score (CSAT) matters:

1. Increased customer retention and customer loyalty

It’s not surprising that when customers have a poor experience with a company, they’re less likely to return. Customer retention is especially important for SaaS organizations with a recurring revenue or subscription model. Since it can cost over 5x more to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one, the boost that a high CSAT provides to company retention rates (and revenue) shouldn’t be ignored.

Satisfied customers are much more likely to stay loyal to your product or brand, keeping your churn rate low. Word of mouth matters, and you want a customer base that’s raving about how great your products, customer service, and overall user experience (UX) are, rather than criticizing your brand. 

2. Increased efficiency

If you’re making an effort to increase your CSAT score, that likely means you’re regularly sending out surveys, conducting customer interviews, and doing market and user research to find customer pain points. 

Paying attention to your customer satisfaction levels helps your organization figure out what's working well with your products and services and which areas need improvement. Often, this means eliminating unnecessary information that may confuse customers and streamlining processes to make them more efficient. The faster you can get a customer to a sale, the better.

3. Improves your UX

Locating customer pain points and responding to customer satisfaction feedback lets you identify the most effective changes to implement on your website, store, and product. If customers are struggling to find the information they need to make a purchase or navigate your product once they’ve signed up, they’ll become frustrated and express low levels of satisfaction.

Collecting customer satisfaction data is a great way to dive deeper into what can be improved across your platform, helping product and UX teams prioritize finding ways to streamline and move users through the customer journey more smoothly.

4. Helps with upselling and cross-selling

Happy customers are much more likely to be interested in new features, upgrades, or companion products. Satisfied users are often more concerned with the overall experience or quality of products, rather than the price, making it easier to upsell or cross-sell to them.

However, this isn’t about hard sells (a sales strategy that is direct and forceful) or pressuring customers. Using customer satisfaction data to identify upselling opportunities is a chance to improve customer experience (CX) and provide users with all the features and products they need to accomplish their goals.

5. Increases employee satisfaction

Happy customers = happy employees, and vice versa. 

Why? It’s simple. Employees set the tone for customer experiences. When employees are miserable at work, the quality of their interactions with clients suffers. But when team members feel empowered to help customers and provide them with great experiences, their overall job satisfaction increases.

If your company is providing great products and services and putting effort into improving customer satisfaction scores, it’s likely to have a positive impact on your employees as well.

After all, both customer churn and employee turnover are expensive. If your organization takes steps to avoid these by boosting customer satisfaction, everyone wins.

7 key customer satisfaction pitfalls to avoid

Dissatisfied customers and poor reviews are one of the quickest ways to tank sales and damage your reputation.

To keep customer satisfaction scores high, avoid these common pitfalls:

1. Bad buying experiences

A poor buying (and browsing) experience is one of the fastest ways to ensure a customer will never make another purchase from your company. Customers should be able to find everything they need on your site and receive their products or subscription access promptly.

A few specific pitfalls to avoid include lack of personalization throughout the browsing and buying experience, selling items that are out of stock, and poor delivery.

2. Poor navigation

If users can’t find the information they need to learn about your product or make a purchase, how will they ever convert? Your website and other content should be clear, concise, and easy to follow.

You may have heard of the 'three-click rule' stating that if users can’t find what they’re looking for in three clicks or less, they’re likely to become frustrated and bounce from your website. 

Do regular UX audits of your site and see how to improve navigation bars, search filters, and other aspects of the user experience. Place CTAs and important information in prominent locations so users won't overlook them. Customers should never have to dig for information—it should be served directly to them.

Hotjar’s Recordings tool helps you see exactly what your users see by showing you how they interact with your site ‘in the wild’. Are they rage clicking after struggling to find the info they need? Watching playbacks of how your customers engage with your site will help you find out. 

#Use Hotjar Session Recordings to determine where your users are getting stuck
Use Hotjar Session Recordings to determine where your users are getting stuck

If links on your site are broken, customers won’t be able to navigate to important information or make purchases. Plus, it makes your company look unprofessional and even untrustworthy.

After all, if you can’t monitor the bugs within your own site, how can users be sure that you’re marketing a quality product? 

To prevent this, stay on top of bugs and blockers in the user experience. Use Hotjar's Feedback widgets that let users immediately communicate any problems they’re having, and set up a tool such as Google Search Console that alerts you if your website is experiencing issues. 

4. Complicated checkout process

The fewer steps in a checkout process, the better. Customers don’t want to have to create an account, fill out dozens of form fields, and complete other tedious tasks.

Instead, allow autofill information and try to keep your checkout on one page instead of a multi-page process.

It’s important to reduce the number of hoops a potential customer has to jump through to convert. Keep your checkout process as simple and streamlined as possible.

5. Bad product experience (PX)

If a customer is dissatisfied with their product experience, they’re not likely to make another purchase from your company. 

Provide your users with a high-quality product that’s accurately marketed on your website and other touchpoints. Be honest in your marketing about your product’s abilities and features, and avoid false or misleading claims. Then, check in regularly with users to make sure you understand what they want, and prioritize customer needs in your product offering and updates

6. Poor customer service and support

Failing to offer real-time support, a poor attitude, and struggling to resolve tickets at the first customer touchpoint are all great ways to tank your customer satisfaction levels.

Build a culture of customer empathy and put your employees through customer service training. Also, give your support team the resources they need to respond rapidly to customer doubts and queries.

Improving your customer service experience reduces customer complaints, increasing product adoption with satisfied customers.

This is a significant indicator for evaluating customers' satisfaction, as customers like getting a response to their inquiries as quickly as possible, even if the answer doesn't address their problem right away

Frederic Linfjärd
Director of Growth Marketing at Planday

7. Unclear troubleshooting steps

You want your users to be able self-serve—to solve their product problems on their own as much as possible—to reduce the burden on your support team, but without clear troubleshooting steps, you’ll just frustrate them.

Ensure your help or how-to content is simple, clear, easy to understand, and easy to navigate. This includes being considerate of all language levels and avoiding overly complex words. If users have access to great support content, they’re much more likely to be satisfied with their customer experience.

7 steps to improve customer satisfaction rates

Beyond avoiding these pitfalls, where should you start to improve your CSAT scores? 

Adapt our seven-step customer satisfaction roadmap to your unique business and product to get on the right track to higher customer satisfaction:

Step 1: define your goals

Before you start implementing changes on your website or product, define what goals your company is trying to accomplish. Get as granular as possible: as well as targeting a higher CSAT, focus on other customer satisfaction goals, like lower average response time, lower number of touchpoints, etc.

Defining your goals helps guide the areas of focus for your organization and where you should start focusing your energy when making product improvements.

Step 2: identify current obstacles to customer satisfaction

Where are your customers’ pain points? Where do they bounce from your site or stop scrolling? What makes them churn or resist new features or upgrades? What frustrates them about your customer service or support?

Understanding what’s blocking customer delight is key to defining your areas of improvement. For example, if your main issue is a long wait time for support, shift company resources to streamlining those channels and even adding more staff. If your customers are dissatisfied because they’re struggling to find information on your site, prioritize UX improvements to navigation.

Step 3: use the right tools to help measure success

Building your tech stack with tools that helps you understand and analyze user behavior and measure success is a great way to validate your ideas when making product changes.

With multiple funnels bringing you different kinds of data and information, it’s difficult to zero in on accurate insights regarding your brand's customer satisfaction performances. The right tools are equipped to measure only crucial data and are capable of shuffling through mountains of information to bring only those bytes that matter.

Eva Taylor
Content Manager, WP Buffs

Hotjar’s Observe tools—Heatmaps and Recordings—help you visualize user behavior and see firsthand what your customers are experiencing. With Ask tools such as Feedback and Surveys, send out CSAT surveys with space for extra information to help you understand why customers are (or aren’t) satisfied, and whether the changes you’ve made are having a positive effect on customer satisfaction.

#Hotjar’s product experience insight tools help you understand your customers’ satisfaction levels
Hotjar’s product experience insight tools help you understand your customers’ satisfaction levels

Step 4: implement changes and gather more data

Once you’ve implemented product or website changes, set aside time to gather and analyze data to get to the root causes of customer roadblocks. Measure customer satisfaction metrics like average ratings, net promoter score®(NPS), customer effort score (CES), bounce rates, and more. Are a large number of customers experiencing bugs? Long wait times? Once you figure out if the changes you made are having the expected impact on your customer satisfaction, you’ll be able to either continue on the same path or switch direction.

Step 5: improve customer support

Customer support is an important touchpoint for customer satisfaction, and you should always be taking steps to improve the support experience. 

Identify areas of frustration in your current support process, and prioritize improvements—whether that means updating help documentation, adding a chatbot, or investing in more support staff.

Step 6: prioritize post-purchase follow-up 

Continuing to communicate with your customers after they make a purchase or download is a great way to build a solid product experience and relationship with users. Send them a thank-you email, ask them for feedback to improve the process, and suggest other products or features they may be interested in.

Keep your post-purchase communications friendly, clear, and concise, and adapt them to the channels your customers use most, whether that’s email, social media, or a messaging service. Gather data with your preferred tools and test what works best for your product and your customers.

Step 7: listen to your customers

Regularly collecting customer feedback is the best way to check how your business is performing and identify gaps or opportunities for improvement. Giving customers the opportunity to express themselves opens the door to conversations about what customers want, and ultimately helps you create a better product.

🔥 Pro tip: Hotjar’s Surveys and Feedback tools help you continuously gather customer insights. Encourage your customers to give honest responses to surveys by clearly stating that you want their feedback. This gives your customers the chance to discuss any thoughts they have about your company or product that they haven’t yet expressed.

An example of a survey question

How a real-life business improved customer satisfaction

So what does a great customer satisfaction strategy look like in action? 

Take Zenprint, whose team understood that to improve customer satisfaction, they needed to drill down to specific details and get to the root causes of customer obstacles.

They combined quantitative data from Google Analytics with qualitative product experience insights from Hotjar Recordings and Heatmaps to analyze user behavior and pinpoint issues causing high bounce rates and dissatisfied users

With the help of these customer satisfaction tools, the Zenprint team discovered that there was a design problem in their pricing table, which was impacting navigability and the overall user experience. By resolving this issue, Zenprint decreased their page drop-off rate by 7 percentage points.

When our users have a better experience, it benefits our conversions and ROI as well

Piriya Kantong
Zenprint Senior Online Marketing Analyst

Start improving your customer satisfaction rates today

Boosting your customer satisfaction rates is one of the best ways to improve your company’s KPIs as a whole. Focusing on CSAT benefits your customers, employees, sales, brand, and much more. 

Investing more time and resources into analyzing your customer satisfaction data is a great start. Strategically prioritize improvements by using tools that help you track user data, analyze behavior, and get direct customer insights.

Ready to start improving your customer satisfaction?

Hotjar gives you the tools to understand your users and boost your customer satisfaction ratings

Frequently asked questions about customer satisfaction