Over the last twenty years, there has been a progressively larger focus on customer satisfaction. For good reason: keeping customers, the data show, is the least expensive, most effective way to a healthy bottom line.
Keeping customers satisfied has become even more critical since 2010 when the corner turned from “buyer beware” to “seller beware.” In the current situation, customers have much more information than the seller, lots of choices about product/service and they have a way to “talk back.” (See “The End of Solution Sales” by Matt Dixon et al from Harvard Business Review. )
What we are witnessing is an unprecedented change in how companies go to market and retain customers as well as attract new ones. Buyers are less loyal and their loyalty has more to do with intangibles than at any other time in history. (Dan Pink, To Sell Is Human)
Since little is really known about how satisfaction is created, let’s look at one of the facts that could be very helpful: Satisfaction is a function of Performance and Expectations. S = P/E. Do we have control over performance? Yes, we do.
Do we have control over expectations? A qualified “yes” but it depends: the customer comes to us, in most cases, with previous experiences that impact their expectations of us. If we’re smart, we figure out what those are and, if possible, do some education on what s/he can expect from us.
Why? If we can influence expectations, we can have a role in the customer’s degree of satisfaction. If not, we’re out of luck and subject to the whims of the market that define what our customers can and do expect from us.