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Implementing a CSAT Survey Strategy: A Guide for Product Leaders

A guide to implementing a CSAT survey strategy for product leaders.

April 5, 2024
Rahul Mallapur

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) has become a crucial metric for product leaders looking to measure and improve their offerings in today's competitive landscape. While metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) have gained popularity, many industry leaders are recognizing the value of CSAT in providing actionable insights and driving product success. From Atlassian's focus on usability to Airbnb's data-driven approach and Pilot's unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, these stories showcase the importance of prioritizing CSAT in product development and decision-making. As a product leader, implementing effective CSAT processes can help you gain a deeper understanding of customer sentiment, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately deliver exceptional user experiences that drive long-term growth. In this blog post, we'll explore the strategies and best practices for setting up CSAT processes in your organization, drawing insights from the success stories of renowned companies in the industry.

Let’s first dive into the stories of product and research leaders.

Megan Cook, Head of Product for Jira, Atlassian

Megan Cook, head of product for Jira at Atlassian, a ubiquitous team collaboration and productivity software, recognized the importance of customer satisfaction (CSAT) in delivering value to users. Cook believed that even if a product adds value if customers aren't satisfied due to issues like poor usability, the value cannot be fully realized.

Cook stated on Lenny's Podcast, "Sometimes you can get caught up in let's add value, add value, add value to the product, but if the customer aren't satisfied with what you built, or in our case we found that one of the core reasons was the usability, it wasn't where it needed to be. Then we can't access that value anyway."

Judd Antin, Head of Research, Airbnb

Judd Antin, who helped build the user research practice at Facebook and was a longtime head of research at Airbnb, strongly advocates for using customer satisfaction (CSAT) as a key metric instead of Net Promoter Score (NPS). Antin argues that NPS suffers from poor survey design, imprecise data, and inconsistency in benchmarking.

Antin states (again) on Lenny’s Podcast, "NPS is the best example of the marketing industry marketing itself. And the problem is this threatens many people's livelihoods, because there's an entire industry of consultants and software providers that want you to believe NPS is a useful and accurate metric. The problem is, the consensus in the survey science community is that NPS makes all the mistakes."

To prove the superiority of CSAT, Antin and his colleague Mike Murakami conducted research at Airbnb. They found that a simple CSAT metric, asking customers about their overall satisfaction with the experience, is more precise, has better data properties, and correlates better with business outcomes than NPS.

Jessica McKellar, cofounder, Pilot

Pilot, a $1.2-billion company providing bookkeeping and tax services to high-growth startups like OpenAI, Lattice, and Airtable, prioritizes customer satisfaction as a key component of their growth strategy. The founders, who have a track record of successful exits, believe in never jeopardizing CSAT, even when under pressure to hit numbers.

Pilot's cofounder, Jessica McKellar, states, "First things first: Don't ever jeopardize CSAT. You should never be so desperate to hit the numbers that you sacrifice customer satisfaction. We're always asking, 'What do our customers want us to do?'"

Pilot's approach to CSAT involves constantly asking, "What do our customers want us to do?" This customer-centric mindset guides their decision-making and helps them maintain a strong product-market fit while scaling the business.

Now let’s jump into building the CSAT survey strategy.

1. Shortlisting Moments for CSAT

As a product leader, one of the most critical steps in implementing an effective CSAT strategy is shortlisting the key moments to gather feedback. This process involves a deep understanding of the user journey and a data-driven approach to identifying opportunities for improvement.

  1. Identify key milestones from the user journey

Map out the entire user journey and identify key milestones (e.g., completing onboarding, using a core feature for the first time, achieving a specific goal). Analyze user behavior data to spot potential friction points or drop-off areas that could benefit from CSAT feedback. Prioritize moments that align with your product's unique value proposition and differentiation.

  1. Spot friction points from user behavior data

Next, dive into your user behavior data to uncover insights and spot potential friction points. Analyze metrics like drop-off rates, time spent on specific pages or features, and user flow patterns. Look for areas where users seem to struggle or disengage, as these could be prime candidates for CSAT feedback. For example, if you notice a high abandonment rate on a particular form or a low adoption rate for a new feature, these could be signs that users are facing challenges or dissatisfaction.

  1. Prioritise moments that align with your product’s value proposition

When shortlisting moments for CSAT, it's crucial to prioritize those that align closely with your product's unique value proposition and differentiation. Focus on the features and experiences that set your product apart and drive user satisfaction. For instance, if your product prides itself on its intuitive interface and ease of use, prioritize moments that showcase these strengths or highlight areas where usability could be improved.

To illustrate this process, consider a mobile banking app. After mapping the user journey, you might identify key milestones such as completing the account setup, making the first transaction, and setting up a recurring payment. By analyzing user behavior data, you discover that a significant portion of users abandon the account setup process midway. Given that a smooth onboarding experience is essential to user adoption and satisfaction, you prioritize this moment for a CSAT survey.

2. Prioritizing Moments for CSAT

Once you've shortlisted the potential moments for CSAT feedback, the next step is to prioritize them effectively. Not all moments carry equal weight in terms of their impact on user satisfaction and business outcomes. To ensure you're focusing on the most critical areas, use a scoring system to rank each moment based on key factors.


Consider criteria such as user volume (how many users experience this moment?), impact on revenue or retention (does this moment influence user spending or loyalty?), and alignment with product strategy (does this moment reflect your core value proposition?). Assign scores to each factor and calculate a total score for each moment.

For example, if your product is a task management app, you might prioritize moments like creating the first project (high user volume), completing a task (strong alignment with product strategy), and collaborating with team members (significant impact on retention). By ranking these moments based on their scores, you can identify the top 2-3 areas that warrant immediate attention and resources.

Starting with a focused set of high-priority moments allows you to dive deep into the most impactful areas and gather valuable insights without overwhelming your team or your users with excessive surveys. As you gather feedback and implement improvements, you can gradually expand your CSAT strategy to cover additional moments in the user journey.

3. Designing the Surveys

Crafting effective CSAT surveys is crucial to gathering meaningful and actionable feedback. When designing your surveys, use a consistent 5-point scale (e.g., Very Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Neutral, Somewhat Dissatisfied, Very Dissatisfied) for rating scale questions to ensure clarity and ease of interpretation. This standardized approach allows for better comparability across different moments and time periods. 

  1. Questions

To gather qualitative feedback, include 1-2 open-ended questions that encourage users to provide specific suggestions or elaborate on their experiences. Questions like "What can we improve in this feature?" or "How can we better meet your needs?" can yield valuable insights that quantitative ratings alone may not capture.

Check out 15 Essential Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions for Actionable Insights for ideas.

Keep your surveys concise and focused, limiting them to 3-5 questions. This reduces user fatigue and improves completion rates, ensuring you gather a representative sample of feedback. Only ask questions that directly relate to the moment or feature you're evaluating, and avoid unnecessary or redundant inquiries.

  1. Timing

Timing is key when triggering CSAT surveys. Set triggers based on user actions (e.g., after completing a task, or submitting a form) or time intervals (e.g., 30 days after onboarding) to reach users at relevant and meaningful moments. This ensures that the feedback you receive is fresh and pertinent to the specific experience you're assessing.

  1. Sample size

To gather a statistically significant sample size, run your surveys for a sufficient duration, typically 2-4 weeks. This allows you to capture feedback from a diverse range of users and accounts for any potential variations in user behavior or sentiment over time.

4. Calculating CSAT Score and Analyzing Results

With your CSAT surveys deployed and responses rolling in, it's time to calculate your CSAT score and analyze the results. The CSAT score is a straightforward metric that reflects the percentage of satisfied customers.

To calculate your CSAT score, use this formula:

CSAT Score = (Number of "Very Satisfied" and "Satisfied" responses / Total responses) × 100

For example, if you received 200 responses, with 120 "Very Satisfied" and 50 "Satisfied," your CSAT score would be: (120 + 50) / 200 × 100 = 85%. 

* Very Satisfied is 5 and Satisfied is 4 on a 5-point scale.

But don't stop at the overall CSAT score. Break down the scores by user segments to uncover valuable insights. Compare the satisfaction levels of new vs. returning users, free vs. paid subscribers, or different user personas. This segmentation can reveal areas where specific user groups may be struggling, allowing you to tailor improvements to their needs.

To make sense of the qualitative feedback, leverage sentiment analysis tools. These tools can automatically categorize comments as positive, negative, or neutral, and even identify common keywords or phrases. This helps you quickly gauge the overall sentiment and spot recurring themes without manually sifting through hundreds of responses.

Pay special attention to negative feedback, as it often contains the most actionable insights. Dive deep into these comments to understand the root causes of dissatisfaction. Is there a common usability issue? Are users frustrated with a specific feature? Identifying these pain points will help you prioritize improvements that can have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.

5. Interpreting Results and Next Steps

Analyzing your CSAT scores and user feedback is just the beginning. The real value lies in interpreting the results and taking action to improve your product and customer experience.

Start by creating a prioritized list of improvements based on the insights gathered from your CSAT data. Consider the CSAT scores, recurring themes in user feedback, and alignment with your product roadmap. Prioritize initiatives that will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction and support your overall product strategy.

Assign clear owners and deadlines for each improvement initiative to ensure accountability and progress. Break down larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks and regularly track progress against your goals.

To measure the success of your improvements, define specific metrics for each initiative. For example, if you're working on enhancing a particular feature, set a goal to increase its CSAT score from 70% to 85% within the next three months. Having clear, quantifiable targets will help you track the effectiveness of your efforts and demonstrate the value of your CSAT program.

Keep your users informed about the progress and improvements you're making based on their feedback. Share regular updates via in-app messages, emails, or release notes, highlighting how their input directly influenced the changes. This transparency strengthens the relationship with your users and shows that you value their opinions and are committed to enhancing their experience.

6. Refining CSAT Strategy

As you implement your CSAT program and gather insights, it's essential to continually refine your approach to ensure ongoing success and relevance.

Start by setting up automated CSAT surveys for key moments in the user journey. This allows for continuous monitoring and trend analysis, enabling you to track satisfaction levels over time and quickly identify any shifts or issues that require attention.

To optimize your surveys and improve response rates, experiment with different designs and formats. Try using emoji-based ratings or personalized questions tailored to the user's experience. These creative approaches can make the survey experience more engaging and encourage higher participation.

As you implement improvements based on CSAT insights, use A/B testing to evaluate their impact by comparing CSAT scores and feedback between two versions of a feature or experience. This helps determine which changes are most effective in enhancing user satisfaction.

Expand your CSAT surveys to additional moments in the user journey based on your initial findings and evolving product priorities. Continuously assess which touchpoints are most critical to user satisfaction and adjust your survey strategy accordingly.

Finally, integrate your CSAT data with other user feedback channels, such as support tickets, user interviews, or social media sentiment. This holistic approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of user satisfaction and helps you identify consistent themes or issues across different feedback sources.


Implementing a CSAT survey strategy is essential for product leaders to gather valuable customer feedback and drive continuous improvement. By focusing on key moments in the user journey, designing effective surveys, and analyzing results, product teams can make data-driven decisions that enhance user satisfaction and product success.