Thursday, November 11, 2010

Satisfied, dissatisfied or indifferent?

Is a customer satisfied if he says so when asked? Usually yes, but not always and with certainty; he or she might say "yes" out of politeness or without realizing that satisfaction does not mean merely lack of dissatisfaction. However, if a customer says he or she is satisfied without being asked, he or she might very well be. This is so especially if he tells this to good friends at his or her own initiative. Is a customer satisfied if he buys more of what he or she is satisfied with and possibly even something else? Usually yes, but not always. It could be, for example, that repurchase takes place out of habit or he or she might be a satisfied user yet dissatisfied payer, despite the purchase.

Customer satisfaction is generated when expectations are surpassed appropriately at the right time. This triggers a pleasure reaction and increases goodwill. However, customer dissatisfaction is a completely different matter. If there is something that the customer does not like he or she is, in principle, dissatisfied but may nevertheless accept the situation out of e.g. habit or due to a lack of options. He or she may also blame him- or herself, another customer, or the industry practice for the issue.

Feelings of dissatisfaction eat into goodwill resources and, when strong enough, causes negative feelings, which increase badwill potential. When this badwill potential is realized, it ruins the customer relationship and, in the worst case, damages the reputation of the product or the company in the market for years to come.

Most commonly, however a customer is indifferent. He or she does not feel satisfied nor dissatisfied, even regardless of how well his or her needs are satisfied. Those who are not indifferent are usually simultaneously satisfied and dissatisfied and can easily make their purchases anywhere.

Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not any opposite issues:

What can I do?

  • I will not trust customer satisfaction surveys blindly but I will create multifaceted customer satisfaction measurements.
  • I will measure customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction separately.
  • I will try to affect the large group of indifferent customers. That is the real challenge!


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