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Customer satisfaction scores are a waste of time

by Kaegan Donnelly. Last updated on November 28, 2023

One of the first things I did after joining Baremetrics was get us setup with Help Scout. As I was working my way through getting it all setup, I paused when I reached the satisfaction surveys, and decided not to use it. But why leave behind a oft-used tool in the customer support tool-belt? Let’s see…

Customer feedback is essential to building a great product. In fact, it is a key driver of our roadmap (lots of cool stuff that you guys have been asking for is on the way, I promise). But support satisfaction surveys just aren’t worth it in the early stages of your business.

  1. Support doesn’t exist in a vacuum — The moment you start asking, “What do you think of your support experience?” is the moment support becomes separate from the rest of what you’re doing. We want support to be as tightly integrated into the Baremetrics experience as the product itself.
  2. It’s kind of awkward — There’s something odd about working with someone, getting to know them, fixing their issue, only to then turn around and say, “How was that? Good, okay, bad?” We want to build a relationship where expressing those sorts of thoughts throughout the interaction is easy peasy.
  3. They’re made for large teams — When managing a large team, customer satisfaction (or CSAT as it’s called in the biz) is actually quite helpful. You can get a sense of how individual folks on your team are doing and where some coaching might be needed. At Baremetrics, it’s a team of one—so there’s no need to be able to draw comparisons between different folks, and that’s generally the case until you get in the 5+ range of support reps.
  4. How do you action it, exactly? — A :thumbsup: or :thumbsdown: is a nice pat on the back (or kick in the pants) but what can you actually do with it? Comments are incredibly helpful, but a simple yay or nay doesn’t tell you a whole lot. Did we take too long to get a reply? Did development take too long to fix an issue? Was it something I said? Do I smell bad? There’s no way to know from a simple smiley click.
  5. There’s gotta be a better way — Simple ratings are just too ambiguous and disconnected from the business. In reality, we have a metric that’s amazing at telling how happy people are: user churn. Granted, you really want to find out if folks are dissatisfied before they decide to leave, but that’s where NPS comes in (which I’ll talk about in more detail in a moment).

So, just because I’m not going to ask people to tell me if I’ve done a good, okay, or bad job doesn’t mean I’m not interested in feedback. Quite the opposite, in fact!

Easy, open-ended feedback

Starting today, I’ll be including a link at the bottom of support e-mails to a simple Google Form with two fields: one for e-mail address, and another for comments. E-mail addresses are optional, so if you want to be anonymous that’s totally fine by me.

If you have something you want to share—kind words, a funny joke, a recipe, or scathing feedback—there’s now a place to do it. It can be about the support experience or the company as a whole, we want to hear it all! These comments will be automagically posted to a dedicated channel in Slack, so that the rest of our dashing team gets to hear what folks are thinking and feeling about the product.

We’re also gearing up to run another NPS survey shortly. Our customer base has grown by about 50% since we last did one, and a lot has changed since then. So it’s time to put our ear to the ground and get a sense of how folks are feeling.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you never collect satisfaction scores. It just doesn’t makes sense on a smaller scale. Just as Josh moved from bootstrapping to accepting funding to accelerate the growth of Baremetrics, collecting satisfaction scores can make sense at large scale.

How are you collecting feedback and making sure customers are happy with their support experiences?

Kaegan Donnelly

Kaegan Donnelly is the bringer of happiness, maker of GIFs, and resident Canadian at Baremetrics. He’s also a "digital nomad", which is a fancy word for homeless. Follow his adventures at @kaequan.