A Brief Primer on C-sat and E-sat Measurement

Greg Levin

So many contact centers talk about how important their customers and agents are, but often end up unwittingly frustrating and losing hordes of each. One of the key reasons for this is that few centers have in place a proper customer satisfaction (C-sat) or employee satisfaction (E-sat) measurement process. They assume that if the center has yet to receive any ticking packages, then customers must be delighted, and that if the agents have yet to hold a hunger strike or create a suicide pact, then E-sat must be superb.

The best contact centers take the time to gauge customer and employee sentiment via formal and frequent surveying processes. Even more, they actually act on the key findings, thus continuously ensuring increases in customer advocacy and decreases in police tape.

Here are a few key tactics and strategies to embrace when implementing/enhancing your C-sat and E-sat measurement initiatives.


A transaction-based C-sat measurement method – i.e., one that captures customer ratings and feedback based on the most recent interaction with the contact center immediately or very soon after that interaction – is essential for any organization hoping to keep its finger on the pulse of customer sentiment and its hand in the pocket containing the customer’s wallet.

The preferred transaction-based C-sat measurement methods of leading customer care organizations are live phone surveys (typically conducted by a third-party specialist), automated (IVR-based) phone surveys, and email surveys. Regardless of which surveying method is used, the surveys themselves typically contain between 5-8 questions, one of which asks whether or not the customer’s issue was fully resolved, and one that asks the likelihood of the customer mailing a ticking package to the center.

Many organizations claim to formally measure customer satisfaction, but measure it ineffectively, such as via internal quality monitoring – where the contact center rather than the actual customer rates the customer’s satisfaction level. It’s sort of the equivalent of a chef deciding whether or not a diner enjoyed his meal, or me deciding whether or not you are enjoying this article, even though I know you are.

While a C-sat rate of 100% would be splendid, 99.9% of contact centers will never legitimately achieve and maintain such a score, which is fine because it’s more interesting and exciting to work in a contact center when there are at least some customers who hate you. World-class contact centers shoot for and are able to sustain C-sat rates in the 90-95% range. This is not to say that rates as high as 80%-85% are anything to be ashamed of. You can’t please all the customers all the time, and if you are pleasing four or more out of five customers on a consistent basis, then you and your staff are certainly doing something right.

In leading contact centers, real-time alerts are set up to notify managers whenever the C-sat survey system picks up on a highly dissatisfied customer. Such alerts enable managers to attempt a service recovery callback in an effort to regain the customer’s loyalty. Naturally, the sooner a manager is alerted to an infuriated customer, the better chance they have of "saving" the customer, and the more time they have to go out and purchase a protective vest.

One final note on C-sat: Forward-thinking contact centers break down C-sat ratings by contact channel. This enables managers to ensure that agents are providing just as poor a level of service via email and chat as they are via phone.


Every contact center says that it’s employee-centric, but very few include E-sat on their formal list of key performance indicators. And many of the centers that do consider E-Sat among their KPIs don’t do an adequate job of measuring/tracking the metric. Instead, they merely implement a plain-vanilla E-sat survey once a year or every two years and taking little action based on the findings.

The best contact centers give teeth and attention to E-sat, developing a comprehensive survey – often enlisting the help of agents themselves in the development of questions – and implementing the survey once every six months, or even once a quarter. These surveys are designed to gauge not only traditional employee satisfaction, but also employee engagement. Engagement is satisfaction on steroids. Engagement surveys help to identify which agents are not only happy with their job but also willing to maim others or themselves in the name of the company’s honor.

Most leading centers contract with a employee surveying specialist to design and implement the E-sat survey to ensure that the right questions are asked in the right ways, as well as to help foster a sense of privacy/anonymity, thus increasing the chances that agents will respond in a frank and honest matter. Surveying specialists can also help a contact center with evaluating results, pinpointing key trends and warning managers of a mutiny.

Naturally, every contact center would love to achieve a 100% E-Sat rate, but that’s about as likely as an IT guy bathing every day. As with C-Sat, anything in the 80%-90% range for E-Sat is impressive – and feasible, particularly if you incorporate into the survey process explicit threats of physical harm for low ratings by staff.