Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) vs Net Promoter Score (NPS): What's the Difference?

09 November 2023

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) vs Net Promoter Score (NPS): What's the Difference?

In today's competitive business landscape, understanding and measuring customer satisfaction is crucial. It helps organizations gauge the loyalty and satisfaction of their customers, giving valuable insights into improvements that need to be made. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are two popular metrics used to assess customer perceptions and loyalty. While they serve a similar purpose, there are significant differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the definitions of CSAT and NPS, examine their differences, and provide examples of how they are used in various contexts

Defining Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS)

1.1 - What is Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)?

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a metric used to assess the degree to which customers are satisfied with a specific product, service, or experience. It is a crucial aspect of any business as it directly impacts customer loyalty and retention. CSAT surveys are commonly conducted to gather feedback from customers and measure their level of satisfaction.

CSAT surveys typically involve asking customers to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale, usually ranging from 1 to 5 or from highly dissatisfied to highly satisfied. The scores obtained from these surveys are then analyzed to calculate an overall satisfaction percentage. This percentage helps businesses gauge how well they are meeting customer expectations and identify areas for improvement.

CSAT surveys often include open-ended questions, allowing customers to provide additional feedback and insights about their experience. This qualitative data is valuable as it offers specific areas for improvement and helps organizations understand the underlying factors influencing customer satisfaction.

For example, a company that provides online shopping services may conduct a CSAT survey to understand how satisfied customers are with the website's user interface, product selection, delivery process, and customer support. The survey results can then be used to make necessary improvements and enhance the overall customer experience.

1.2 - What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Net Promoter Score (NPS), on the other hand, focuses on measuring customer loyalty and the likelihood of customers recommending a company to others. It is a widely used metric that provides valuable insights into how well an organization is equipped to generate positive word-of-mouth and customer referrals.

The concept of NPS was developed by Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company. The metric is based on a simple question: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?" The responses to this question are then divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

  1. Promoters (score 9-10) - These are the loyal customers who are highly likely to recommend the company and continue purchasing its products or services. They are enthusiastic advocates who contribute to positive word-of-mouth, ultimately driving the company's growth and success.
  2. Passives (score 7-8) - Passives are satisfied customers who are less likely to actively promote the company. While they may not actively recommend the company, they are generally content with their experience. However, they are also vulnerable to switching to competitors if a better option arises.
  3. Detractors (score 0-6) - Detractors are dissatisfied customers who are likely to spread negative word-of-mouth about the company. Their feedback and concerns should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage to the company's reputation and customer base.

The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. The resulting score can range from -100 to +100, indicating the overall loyalty and advocacy of customers.

For instance, a software company may use NPS to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. By analyzing the responses, they can identify their most loyal customers (Promoters) and work on converting Passives into Promoters. Additionally, they can address the concerns of Detractors and turn their negative experiences into positive ones, ultimately improving their NPS and overall customer satisfaction.

What's the difference between Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

While both CSAT and NPS focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty, their approaches and goals differ:

CSAT primarily measures specific moments of customer satisfaction by assessing their experience with a particular product, service, or interaction. It is often used to evaluate the success of a particular initiative or event. On the other hand, NPS measures overall customer loyalty and advocacy, providing a broader view of customer sentiment towards the company as a whole.

CSAT surveys typically use Likert scales or similar rating systems to quantify satisfaction levels numerically. In contrast, NPS uses a single question and categorizes respondents into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors based on their score. This simplicity allows for easy benchmarking and facilitates cross-industry comparisons.

Another distinction lies in the actionable insights derived from each metric. CSAT surveys, with their open-ended questions, provide rich qualitative data, helping organizations identify areas for improvement and uncover specific pain points in the customer journey. NPS, on the other hand, focuses on understanding trends and shifts in customer loyalty but may not provide detailed insights into the reasons behind a particular score.

Examples of the Difference between Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS)

2.1 - Example in a Startup Context

In a startup context, measuring CSAT could involve evaluating customer satisfaction with a newly launched product. A CSAT survey may ask customers to rate their experience using the product, providing insights into its usability, performance, and any potential flaws. This feedback is valuable for product development teams striving to enhance the user experience.

On the other hand, measuring NPS would focus on gauging overall loyalty and likelihood of customers recommending the startup's brand. An NPS survey could reveal whether the startup's customers are actively advocating for their product or service, helping determine the effectiveness of their marketing and customer retention efforts.

2.2 - Example in a Consulting Context

In a consulting context, CSAT surveys can be utilized to assess client satisfaction after completing a project. Consultants may gather feedback on various aspects, such as the quality of deliverables, timeliness, and the professionalism of the team. This feedback enables consultants to make necessary improvements and maintain high levels of client satisfaction.

Conversely, NPS surveys for consulting firms gauge how likely clients are to recommend the firm's services to others. A high NPS score indicates satisfied clients who are likely to become brand advocates, potentially leading to new business opportunities through referrals.

2.3 - Example in a Digital Marketing Agency Context

For a digital marketing agency, CSAT surveys can be used to measure client satisfaction with the agency's campaign performance and communication. Clients may be asked to rate factors such as campaign effectiveness, account management, and responsiveness. The feedback derived from CSAT surveys helps agencies refine their strategies and tailor their services to client needs.

NPS surveys in this context would assess the extent to which clients are willing to recommend the agency's services to others. The NPS score reflects the level of satisfaction and loyalty among clients, providing insights into the agency's reputation and potential for organic growth.

2.4 - Example with Analogies

To illustrate the difference between CSAT and NPS, consider the analogy of a restaurant. CSAT would focus on evaluating individual aspects of a dining experience, such as the taste of the food, the quality of service, or the cleanliness of the establishment. Each aspect is measured independently, offering insight into specific areas that require improvement.

On the other hand, NPS would provide an overall rating of the restaurant, taking into account factors like the ambiance, value for money, and overall satisfaction. It would also encompass the likelihood of customers recommending the restaurant to friends or family based on their overall experience.

By utilizing both CSAT and NPS, restaurants can gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers' perceptions and make data-driven decisions to improve their offerings and excel in the competitive food industry.


Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are valuable metrics that enable businesses to assess and improve customer loyalty and satisfaction. While CSAT focuses on specific moments of satisfaction, NPS provides an overall view of customer loyalty and advocacy. By leveraging these metrics and understanding their differences, organizations can gain actionable insights to enhance customer experiences, boost loyalty, and drive business growth.

About the author
Arnaud Belinga
Arnaud Belinga
Arnaud Belinga is the Co-Founder & CEO at Breakcold. He talks about Sales CRM use, marketing & sales. He loves Surfing 🏄‍♂️ & Skateboarding 🛹️.
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