The increasing challenge of Customer Satisfaction

Client satisfaction plays a unique role in the way in which a business operates and ultimately prospers. Richard Thomas, Managing Director of INL (BBN Switzerland) believes customer service is the driving force of INL’s success.

“As soon as clients feel undervalued they stop coming back, negative press moves quickly, and doors start to close. INL prides itself in the long-lasting partnerships it has developed with its clients over the years, many exceeding 10 years.”

So how do you keep clients satisfied?

Jeff Besos, CEO of Amazon, made a very interesting point about customer satisfaction in his letter[1] to his shareowners in 2018.

One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something’s in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well. You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Customers won’t have it.

Customer satisfaction can be interpreted and measured in various ways, as Jeff Besos illustrates in the quote above. Ana Canhoto[2], Marketing Lecturer at Brunel University, provides an interesting analysis by offering two examples of customer satisfaction.

The first is that customer satisfaction is dynamic. If specific features are added to a product/service, they can enhance it and generate customer satisfaction. Like upgrading frequent flyers who use the same airline, giving returning customers discounts on their favourite apparel brand or offering coffee to clients waiting to have their haircut. Such actions are important to identify and are referred to as satisfiers. The presence of these features creates positive word of mouth as clients feel they are getting more than what they expected, so they feel happy.

The issue is that customer preferences evolve and like Jeff Besos rightly stated, “expectations are never static they go upand yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’”.  Customer satisfaction is, after all, the result of exceeding customer expectations – or, what is called, “the disconfirmation paradigm” which, simply put suggests that dissatisfaction arises when service expectations are not met.

There is this constant need to innovate and satisfy your customer, except satisfying them is no longer enough, they want to be wowed, which is where the second paradigm comes in.

Customer satisfaction is relative, let us not forget that we are social animals who tend to thrive in groups. We evaluate our experiences by comparing them to others. We don’t just look at how we are being treated or what we are receiving, we also look at how the other person is being treated and what he is getting. We expect to receive the same benefits as every other customer.

Easy access to information has accentuated this trend and made customers even more aware of the product features made available to others, so even if they were not initially aware or interested, they now feel like they should also benefit from these features. As mentioned by Mrs Canhoto this phenomenon is called the “unfairness perception” and is ever more present in this highly connected society.

To conclude, Jeff Besos states customer satisfaction can be reached by a combination of many things but that a key focus on high standards to meet the ever-rising expectations of his customers is essential.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this.

[1] https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312518121161/d456916dex991.htm

[2] https://anacanhoto.com/2018/05/08/what-amazon-knows-about-customer-satisfaction/

 

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