How to Use CSAT and NPS Data to Improve Customer Experience

by SmileBack
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10 min read

Customer experience is more important than ever. Not only does it influence buying behavior, but it can mean the difference between making a loyal customer and having an uncomfortable QBR. 

That said, a survey of 950 MSPs worldwide shows that only 38% of MSPs track customer satisfaction and retention metrics

This may seem surprising on its face, given that tracking customer satisfaction correlates with higher customer retention rate and allows MSPs to gain a competitive advantage in an oversaturated market.

Though if you dig a bit deeper, it’s no wonder that MSPs aren’t immediately prioritizing the customer experience. As technology is ever-changing and evolving, there’s a relentless demand for the services you provide. Many MSPs are choosing to build out IT roles above all else.

The problem is that short-term gain will most likely have a negative impact on the customer experience in the long-run. And while it may seem difficult, it is incredibly important—and incredibly easy with the right tools—to measure customer satisfaction and give equal weight to the customer experience. 

In this article, we’ll explore the main reasons why eliciting, analyzing and taking meaningful action on customer feedback can be a powerful tool for your MSP. 

We’ll also touch on the difference between Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys and why you should leverage both to improve your customer relationships.

Table of contents

  • Customer feedback helps you identify the root cause of pain points and wins 
  • Customer feedback leads to higher quality referrals
  • Customer feedback results in more meaningful quarterly business reviews
  • The difference between CSAT and NPS
  • How to leverage CSAT and NPS data to gain valuable insights into customer satisfaction
  • Wrapping up

Customer feedback helps you identify the root cause of pain points and wins 

Without an understanding of how your customers feel about the job you’re doing, it’s difficult to make meaningful changes to your products, services, operations, or levels of service. This goes for both pain points and wins, as learning what isn’t working is just as valuable as identifying what is.

In essence, a lack of focus on your customer satisfaction makes it more difficult to identify the root cause of customer issues or successes.

For example, if customers are writing into your help desk with similar grievances, and you don’t take the time to understand commonalities, you won’t be able to identify the core problem. Your IT specialists or customer service team may successfully resolve the tickets, but that doesn’t mean they’ve resolved the fundamental issue at hand. 

Obtaining customer feedback that explores the source of the grievance in the first place can help you to figure out where to start. For example, digging a bit deeper you can identify if the problem is:

  • On the technical end. Is your customer struggling with implementation, access to a solution, or experiencing a security challenge? If so, figure out what’s causing it and how can you fix it both in the short and long run.
  • Service-related. Is your customer displeased with the ticket wait time? Do they feel your help desk is not empathetic towards their problems? Consider what you can do to improve satisfaction at this touchpoint.
  • An operational or procedural flaw. Is there a workflow barrier that’s causing unnecessary tension? Are they struggling to access information that should be easy to find? Assess your procedures to identify any sticky points.
  • A mix of all of the above. Is one issue being exacerbated by another? Could an escalation have been avoided if the issue was caught earlier? Look out for domino effects that are seemingly unrelated but may contribute to a larger relational issue.

Once properly identified, you can begin to address the bug, so to speak, before it continues to manifest and grow. 

On the flip side, your customers may be incredibly satisfied with the job you’re doing. This may be in regards to a specific part of their experience as a customer, your SLAs, the technology you implement, your ticket response times, and so on. 

Understanding what you’re doing well in one area of your business allows you to replicate and expand upon those well-performing processes on a wider scale. 

In general, identifying the root cause of pain points and wins help you to:

  • Optimize internal training protocols
  • Streamline processes
  • Set more accurate client expectations
  • Fix a recurring technical, service, or operational problem
  • Improve client training materials
  • Reduce customer churn
  • Improve cross-selling opportunities
  • Increase your ROI
  • Enhance the quality of your referrals

Let’s dissect that final point in a bit more detail.

Customer feedback leads to higher quality referrals

Most MSPs rely heavily on referrals to attract new customers. Now more than ever, it’s important to know where you stand with your existing customer base so that you:

  • Know when to ask for a referral
  • Can work to improve your offering so that you get more aligned referrals

That said, because customer demands are changing and the market is oversaturated with solutions, attracting high-quality referrals isn’t as easy as it used to be. When a referral approaches your business, you don’t know if that customer’s needs are going to align with your solutions and processes. 

Further, if you aren’t entirely sure if your solutions and processes are working effectively for your existing customers, how are you meant to know if and how they might work for new ones? 

Many MSPs are beginning to realize that understanding the customer experience will help them improve their offering. In turn, this allows you to stand out from the crowd and attract more aligned referrals from existing customers and other MSPs alike.

Ultimately, the more aligned your referrals are with your business model, offerings and solutions, the happier everyone will be. This will strengthen your business on the whole and galvanize loyal customers to go the distance.   

Customer feedback results in more meaningful quarterly business reviews

Quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are an important instrument in your customer relationship toolbox. They’re an effective way to touch base with your customers, allowing you to build stronger and longer-lasting relationships. 

But because the meetings are infrequent, they’re not always representative of how the entire organization feels. For example, a CEO may feel one way, but the managers that deal with your MSP on a day-to-day basis may disagree.

Further, if you don’t have a breadth of relevant and recent data to bring to the meeting, you’re only addressing what is and isn’t working on a generalized scale. As a result, you miss out on the less obvious yet lingering pain points, or wins, that may be slowly eroding, or deepening, your customer relationships.

That’s why QBRs can be elevated by introducing relevant, timely, and meaningful data into the conversation. When you show up to a QBR with insights based on data that you’ve captured in the past few months, you can discuss what’s been going well, or needs improvement, from a data-driven perspective rather than making educated guesses. 

You can then compare that recent data to insights and notes from the last QBR to see what’s changed, what’s stalled, and what needs to be dissected further.

This is similar to creating a business budget for the purpose of setting goals, seeing the actual vs. expected spending reports, holding yourself accountable for any shortfalls and/or optimizing your budget based on new realizations or demands.  

For example, rather than simply sharing the metric of the number of tickets closed per quarter (i.e. CSAT data), you can elaborate on why that number increased or decreased. This helps you communicate what that means in terms of satisfaction level, operational efficiency, the need for solutions changes or optimizations, and so on. We’ll get into what CSAT and NPS mean and how they can help with this in the next section.

Ultimately, you and your customer will have a chance to talk through these insights and make important decisions based on them. If this means adjusting next quarter’s benchmarks, or even yearly goals, you’ll both be comfortable making those decisions because they’re based on real, meaningful data—not guesswork. 

The difference between CSAT and NPS

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of collecting feedback and how it can help to elevate your MSP operation, we need to touch on how to effectively collect it.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) are two of the most useful customer satisfaction metrics available to measure customer satisfaction. Both survey types are often short and consist of one question to help gauge customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

The responses for each survey type are recorded via unique numeric rating scales, each with its own rules for calculating and analyzing the results. 

CSAT is calculated based on subtracting the percent of negative reviews you receive from the percent of positive reviews that come in. In the end, you’re left with a percentage that makes up your Net CSAT score. An example of a very positive CSAT score is 90 (100 being the highest), with the lowest possible number being 0. 

NPS, on the other hand, is collected on a number scale that ranges from 0-10, and the responses are categorized into three main groups:

  • Promoters that score your business from 9-10
  • Passives that score your business from 7-8 
  • Detractors that score your business from 0-6 

The score is calculated as a percentage of Promoters minus a percentage of Detractors to give you a final NPS number. The highest NPS score you can get is 100 and the lowest is -100.

To learn more, check out our help desk guides on how Net CSAT score is calculated and how NPS is calculated

Book an NPS walk-through call now!


In general, CSAT focuses on individual ticket metrics in order to capture whether or not a customer was satisfied with the service they received, and the NPS focuses on the business relationship on a larger scale. 

Think of it this way: CSAT is the date and NPS is the relationship. With CSAT, you’re initially assessing someone based on shorter, mainly objective transactions (e.g. they were nice and funny). With NPS, you’re gauging the relationship with them and evaluating your bond based on deeper, more profound factors (e.g. our values are aligned and we work well as a team). 

Why you should collect both CSAT and NPS data together

Many MSPs prioritize one metric over the other—but that’s a mistake. You should be collecting both CSAT and NPS data together, preferably from a customer feedback system that’s designed specifically for MSPs.

Why? Because you need a holistic understanding of both operational and relational insights in order to paint a full picture of your customers’ overall satisfaction level.

Take, for example, an MSP that is only collecting CSAT survey metrics. Capturing the number of tickets closed per agent shows how they’re performing in general, but it does little to provide valuable insights into how a specific ticket was resolved.

You may have incredibly high CSAT scores, but that tells you very little about whether or not your customers are happy with your business relationship.

By only capturing CSAT and not NPS data, you miss out on key understandings and cannot answer follow-up questions such as:

  • What led to the ticket in the first place? 
  • Is that issue now resolved, not only for this customer but for other customers that may share a similar overall experience?
  • Has this interaction affected their customer happiness level and is there anything deeper that we need to learn from this touchpoint?
  • What (if any) are the next steps that we need to take, either with the customer to further assess and resolve the situation, or internally on an operational level, to improve the situation?

Conversely, if you’re only capturing NPS data, you’ll gain a high-level view of how the customer feels about the business relationship in general, but you’ll miss the smaller details. Finding out whether or not the customer is satisfied with an interaction becomes tricky. 

By only capturing NPS without CSAT data, you miss out on basic understandings and cannot answer follow-up questions such as:

  • Did my customer support agent or IT specialist do a good job with that specific interaction?
  • Is the customer satisfied with their customer experience?
  • How quickly did we respond to this ticket?
  • Was it properly escalated (need be)?
  • Did my customer support team or IT specialist follow proper training procedures?

CSAT and NPS scores should never be treated as mutually exclusive. Sure, at any given time one set of data points may be considered more important than the other. But on the whole, one without the other is only half the picture.

Circling back to our first date budding into a relationship scenario, those first interactions disproportionately matter more than the relationship at large. But as you get to know the other person on a deeper level, the broader picture of how well you work together—as well as the day-to-day interactions—need to be given equal weight. 

How to leverage CSAT and NPS data to gain valuable insights into customer satisfaction

As an MSP, you need simple, effective tools to help improve your customer experience efforts. But it’s not as easy as plugging into a professional services automation (PSA) or help desk, turning on a built-in survey tool, and suddenly receiving tons of meaningful survey responses. 

Oftentimes, these tools aren’t savvy or enticing enough for the customer to capture the amount of feedback and response rates that you need, let alone capable of producing targeted and unique insights on the backend. 

Alternatively, you may be collecting all of the right data, but lack a method to segment, filter, and customize your data to draw meaningful conclusions from it. 

This can leave you with a need to easily track both individual and relational metrics so that they can evaluate: 

  • How individual reps are performing on their own 
  • How your team is performing on the whole 
  • How the customer experience is progressing on a client-by-client basis

A tool like SmileBack makes it easy to do all of the above. We combine CSAT and NPS survey types to help you gain a holistic understanding of both the day-to-day customer sentiment as well as unique insights into your existing business relationships on a broader scale. 

SmileBack customers can also arrange their feedback in a way that makes it easy to segment and filter specific issues or topics. From these views, it’s much easier to uncover recurring themes to better understand how your business is performing on the day-to-day and gauge your customers’ needs, pain points, and desires on the whole.

By conducting these two surveys in tandem, you’re setting yourself up for both short and long-term success that will ultimately lead to more satisfied customers.

Not only will you gain insight into which customers are high and low risk, but you’ll also be able to identify why those customers fall into those buckets and how you can make changes to improve, or leverage, the situation. 

Wrapping up

Market research proves that the customer experience is only growing in importance.

While it may feel overwhelming at first, you should be doing everything you can to understand your customers’ needs and desires so that you can improve your relationship with them and, ultimately, position your MSP to gain a competitive advantage in a crowded market. 

The best way to do that is with both CSAT and NPS surveys so that you can capture, in real-time:

  • What you’re doing well on each individual ticket and interaction
  • How your relationship is progressing on the whole

The moment you realize these two surveys belong together, you’ll stop asking yourself which one to use and when. With the right feedback specialists, the answer is both—and as often as possible.

You can start using both surveys and learn how to assess the health of your brand now by booking a call with us!

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