2017 Q3-4 How Satisfied is Satisfied?

When it comes to customer satisfaction scores, how satisfied is satisfied. Let’s say you just completed your annual customer satisfaction survey and learned that your customers rate your company with an overall score of 8.1 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 represents extremely satisfied and 1 represents extremely dissatisfied. The overall score of 8.1 out of a possible score of 10 is the average of all questions and is referred to as the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI).

With a score of 8.1 the management team congratulates each other, interpreting the overall score as very good and an improvement from its score of 7.9 the previous year. Before making that conclusion it might be helpful to understand exactly what a score of 8.1 really means. Based on the customer surveys completed by SPG, the average CSI in our database is 8.3 based on the 100 most recent companies for whom we have conducted surveys. In other words, a score of 8.1 indicates that the company is performing slightly below the average of 8.3 of other companies and there is significant upside potential to further increase customer satisfaction.

Other organizations also benchmark results. For example, the University of Michigan calculates their American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores by major industry based on percentages. For 2016, full service restaurants posted an average score of 81 out of 100. By contrast, the US Postal Service scored 73 out of 100.

Understanding the true meaning of customer satisfaction ratings and having the capability to benchmark against other companies provides meaningful comparisons and allows management to establish realistic goals in order to generate continuous improvement.