CSAT vs NPS: What's The Difference?

What are the key differences between these two important CX metrics? Here's a comprehensive breakdown.
Published on: Jul 01, 2022
Last updated: Nov 28, 2023

TL:DR

  • Important CX and customer support metrics include CSAT & NPS.
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) measures customer satisfaction with specific interactions or services on a scale of 1-5.
  • CSAT is calculated by dividing the number of high satisfaction ratings by the total responses and multiplying by 100.
  • A good CSAT score is between 60-80%, with scores above 80% considered excellent.
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score) measures the likelihood of customers recommending a product or service on a scale of 0-10.
  • NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
  • A positive NPS score above +50 is seen as excellent, while scores between +30 to +49 are considered good.
  • CSAT is a transactional metric, while NPS is a relational metric.
  • To use CSAT vs. NPS effectively, be explicit about goals and tailor the surveys accordingly.
  • CSAT is owned by customer support teams, while NPS is owned by customer support, product, and/or customer success teams.
  • Both CSAT and NPS are valuable metrics with their specific purposes and limitations.
  • Using them together can provide a comprehensive view of customer satisfaction and retention.

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We’ve covered the most important CX and customer support metrics before. Two of the most popular are CSAT and NPS.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into: 

  • What CSAT and NPS are
  • What each measures 
  • What their differences and similarities are
  • How to calculate them and
  • When it’s appropriate to use them

What is a CSAT (customer satisfaction) score?

CSAT stands for ‘Customer Satisfaction Score’ and is often used by businesses to measure how satisfied a customer is with a feature, service, or interaction. 

How is CSAT measured? 

CSAT is measured by sending out short surveys. They typically consist of simple questions asking customers to rate their satisfaction with a feature, service, or recent customer support interaction on a scale of 1-5 (though other scales, such as binary scales or open-ended questions, are also used occasionally). 

What is the formula for calculating CSAT? 

Once you have sent out your CSAT surveys and gotten the responses, the formula you use to calculate CSAT is as follows: 

(Number of 4 or 5 responses/Number of total responses) x 100

For example, you send out 100 surveys and receive 80 responses in total. Out of those 80 responses, 50 of them rated you either 4 or 5. If you crunch the numbers, your CSAT score will be 62.5%

62.5% is considered an average CSAT score, though it depends on your industry. 

If you want to learn more about how to calculate csat (and access an Excel template to make the calculations easier), check out our ‘How to calculate CSAT’ post. 

What is a good CSAT score?

CSAT scores from 60 - 80% are considered average to good. Anything above 80% is excellent, and anything below 60% is inadequate. 

How often should you measure CSAT?

CSAT is a transactional metric, meaning it measures customer satisfaction with specific interactions they have with your company, product, or service. That being said, you can send out CSAT scores in these situations:

  • After a customer support interaction
  • After a user has tried a new feature or service
  • After a user has reached some point in their user journey or lifecycle

You can also send out CSAT on a fixed schedule, such as once every quarter. 

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What is an NPS (net promoter) score?

NPS stands for net promoter score, and it measures how likely a customer of yours is to recommend you to a family member, friend, or colleague. 

How is NPS measured?

NPS is measured by sending out surveys. Most NPS surveys consist of a single question: 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend (insert product, service, or company) to a friend or colleague?
  • People who answer 9 or 10 are known as ‘Promoters’ because they are very likely to recommend your product. 
  • People who answer 7 or 8 are known as passives because they don’t feel strongly about your product or service one way or the other: they probably won’t recommend it, but they don’t feel negatively about it either.
  • People who answer 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 are known as detractors because they are unsatisfied with your product or service and are likely to share their negative opinion with others in their network.

In fact, studies have shown that if a customer is not happy, 13% of them will share their experience with 15 or more people.

What is the formula for calculating your NPS score?

To calculate your NPS score, you’ll first need to send out a good number of NPS surveys to get a representative answer. Once you send out the surveys and receive the results, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Calculate the percentage of promotors by using this formula: (Number of people who answered 9 or 10 / total survey responses) x 100
  • Next, you’ll need to calculate the percentage of detractors using this formula: (Number of people who answered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6/total survey responses) x 100
  • Lastly, you’ll need to subtract the percentage of promoters from the percentage of detractors to arrive at your score. 

For example, let’s say you send out 100 surveys and receive 80 responses. Out of those responses, 60 people answer a 9 or 10, 10 people answer 7 or 8, and 10 people answer 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. In that case, your NPS score will be 62.5. 

What is a good NPS score?  

NPS scores can range from -100 (all detractors) to +100 (all promotors). A positive NPS score means you have more promotors than detractors. A negative NPS score means the opposite: you have more detractors than promoters. An NPS score of 0 indicates that the number of promotors is equal to the number of detractors.

  • NPS scores above +50 are generally seen as excellent and demonstrate that most of your customers are satisfied with your product and would enthusiastically recommend you to a friend or colleague. 
  • NPS scores between +30 to +49 are considered good
  • NPS scores between 0 to +29 are considered fair. 

While these are good general benchmarks to aim for, a good NPS score depends on a variety of factors: your industry, the stage your company is in, your user base numbers, etc. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the average NPS scores by industry, you can check out this article: NPS Industry Benchmarks: What Is A Good Score To Aim For In 2023?

How often should you measure NPS?

This really depends on your industry and product, but measuring your NPS on a consistent basis is important to make sure your rankings are not slipping. Sending out this survey at least once every quarter is a good starting point.

NPS vs CSAT

CSAT vs. NPS
NPS vs. CSAT

NPS and CSAT are sometimes confused with each other because they both fall under the broad category of CX metrics. They also track similar things with the aim of improving customer experiences and, consequently, retention rates. 

That being said, they’re different metrics. Here’s a breakdown of their similarities and differences:

  • NPS and CSAT are both numerical scales
  • NPS and CSAT are both measured using surveys 
  • NPS and CSAT both measure customer satisfaction with a product or service, though CSAT measures it more directly.
  • Both CSAT and NPS are important to track because they give you clues about what is and what isn’t working.
  • Both NPS and CSAT are predictors of customer churn
  • CSAT is a transactional metric (it measures individual interactions or transactions) while NPS is a relational metric (it measures a customer’s overall impression or satisfaction with a product or service).
  • CSAT can be measured more often, while NPS is measured once quarterly. 
  • NPS is a longer-term measure of customer sentiment, while CSAT can be both a long-term and short-term measure of customer sentiment. 
  • Customer support teams ‘own’ CSAT at a company, while NPS is ‘owned’ by customer support, product, and/or customer success teams. 

How to use CSAT vs. NPS

Since these metrics can overlap if they aren't thought out carefully enough, it's important to be very explicit in your goals when you set out to measure either CSAT or NPS (or both).

Some things to keep in mind here are: 

  • Make a plan to determine what exactly you are trying to measure here and why. Put it down on paper to make it easier to differentiate the two.
  • Figure out if you are trying to gather relational or transactional information. Depending on which you decide to measure, you'll need to send out either a CSAT survey (applicable to both relational or transactional situations) or an NPS survey (broadly applicable only to relational situations).
  • Determine what kinds of questions you should ask. CSAT and NPS measure different things, so it stands to reason that the questions you need to ask for each are also different. Are your customers generally happy with your service? That's a CSAT question. What to find out if your customers are turning into brand evangelists? That's an NPS question. 

Who owns NPS vs. CSAT?

Confused about which business functions or teams own CSAT and NPS? We don't blame you! These metrics are so crucial to the success of your business that you should be keeping an eye on them company-wide.

However, when it comes to which team ultimately owns these metrics, there are some broad generalizations that are helpful:

  • Your customer support team ought to take responsibility for your CSAT score.
  • Your product, customer support, and customer success teams ought to take responsibility for NPS, given its relational nature and the fact that both product experiences and general customer experiences can influence it.

Which is better: NPS or CSAT?

CSAT and NPS are both important metrics if you want a well-rounded view of your business!

While CSAT is better for more targeted, short-term data, NPS can tell you a whole lot about how happy your customers are about your product or service as a whole.

Are CSAT and NPS outdated? 

Recently, there have been some naysayers who claim both CSAT and NPS are outdated. The argument — especially in the case of NPS — seems to come down to the fact that while both metrics can give you an indication of whether you're doing something right or wrong, they don't tell you what exactly that something is — or how to fix it, if it turns out it's bad.

We don't fully agree with this assessment: while NPS and CSAT are limited by their very nature, you want them to be! They're meant to measure very specific things. And no one's saying you should use these two metrics in isolation! In fact, we've already covered 15 other support metrics, and each of them can be measured to tell you different things about your business and its processes.

Put them together, and what do you get? 

A well-rounded picture with as much detail as you want!

In addition to that, most CSAT and NPS surveys do leave room for open-ended questions if you're looking for more specific feedback. You just have to learn how to write a great one that customers will respond to.

Wrapping things up

While NPS and CSAT are both CX metrics, they differ in their approach to measuring customer satisfaction. NPS is primarily a long-term, relational  metric that measures how likely a customer is to recommend a product or service to others. CSAT, on the other hand, measures how satisfied customers are with a particular interaction or feature, and can be either a long-term or short-term metric.

It is important to be very clear about your goals when measuring either NPS or CSAT. Making a plan, deciding whether to gather relational or transactional information, and determining what kinds of questions to ask are all important steps in measuring these metrics accurately. Additionally, while both NPS and CSAT have limitations, they are still valuable metrics that can give businesses a well-rounded view of their customer satisfaction.

Overall, understanding the differences between NPS and CSAT can help businesses choose the most appropriate metric for their specific needs. By carefully measuring and analyzing these metrics, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer satisfaction and improve retention rates.

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