A Definition of Satisfaction
Delivering Customer Satisfaction sounds a noble target, but it isn’t. Being Satisfied is based on rational criteria, and, as perhaps we know of our own behavior, our actions aren’t always rational.
A definition of a satisfied customer is a customer who has received what it is that they expected. When I go to a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) like Burger King, McDonalds or KFC, etc, I know what I will get. They’ll serve me a burger and fries that are freshly made and promptly served. Also, I can have that meal in a clean and looked-after environment. If the meal has some nutritious value (or I can select such an item), that is a bonus. The important point is that I come in knowing that while I may not be making the healthiest choice for lunch, I can leave with hunger quenched, maybe children quieted, and not too much out of pocket.
Delivering Customer Satisfaction Just Means Staying in the Running
Next time I am hungry and having again decided to go to a QSR, I am still open for choice. I might have a temporary craving for one restaurant’s entrée over another and so lean towards that business, but the decision as to which I would go may be more of a process.
First, I eliminate those places that I will NOT go. Those are the one(s), based on some bad unsatisfying personal experience, or from a third-party (friend, family, online, etc.) anecdote, I have ruled out as options.
Then, I think a about some factors to narrow my choice. For example, it’s Tuesday, so there is a taco special. Maybe I feel like pizza, or I haven’t had Vietnamese noodles in a while. These options, whichever they are, may carry equal weight as the place for lunch because they all deliver the same result. I am hungry, I am okay with the result I got when I visited before (I was SATISFIED), and so any of them will do again this time. All of those places remain ‘in the running’ for my business today and will do so tomorrow, so long as they deliver what I expect when I go.
Businesses Focus on Providing Solutions
Most businesses, even in other sectors, position themselves as really no different than their QSR cousins. They may offer a service rather than a product. They also might be more expensive. In either case, they are still essentially positioning themselves as a solution to a problem that a customer may have:
- Your car is broken. We can repair it.
- Your car is dirty. We can clean it.
- You have a civil problem. We can give you legal advice.
- You have a toothache. We can give you dental care.
- You need a bed to sleep. We can rent you a room.
This mentality reinforces the thinking that, in the transaction, they are merely supplying a product. Presented with multiple places providing this similar item, a customer may resort to criteria that lingers on an undesirable slope for all businesses, that of the lowest possible price. No business comes out a winner in a price war, yet companies continuously allow themselves to be drawn into such a conflict by remaining focused on one goal: delivering (satisfactorily) a product to quench the customer’s need.
Only Providing a Solution Misses Making a Connection
These companies are losing a major opportunity. Their team views the transaction as a situation in which a customer is paying them money to get a solution, rather than where a visitor has come for something (rational) but may seek more, as well. In doing so, they are missing a major chance to bond with customers on a personal level.
Customers shop with their heart. The company (or brand) that focuses on the irrational elements of buying, providing more than only an objective solution to their problems, has a chance to connection with them emotionally. And in doing so, that company has a far greater likelihood of getting those customer to return, return more often, buy more, and be willing to pay more for it. It can connect with those customers emotionally. It can make them feel like family.
Hospitality is not defined by a Process
Hotels, Resorts, Spas, Professional Services, Offices, and Clinics will have a standard protocol for ‘checking in’ customers. The receptionist is to smile and show them in. A guest can be offered a glass of water or cup of coffee. Perhaps they can be asked if they are too hot or cold and the receptionist will adjust the room temperature. They are asked to take a seat and “we will be with you shortly”.
But these have become a standard deliverable. Why WOULDN’T I be greeted at the door and shown to a chair. Why WOULDN’T I be given something to drink. Why WOULDN’T I by asked if the temperature was comfortable. Those have become so expected that the only time they are noticed is when they are absent. The visitor EXPECTS these services and they don’t get it. They leave UNSATISFIED.
Giving Customer Satisfaction is a Minimum
Businesses have to deliver a minimum – the product or service that the customer has come for- in the form and level of quality expected (Customer Satisfaction). But that is merely the minimum…. That is the ‘cost’ of entry, i.e. the ante to stay in the game and be considered for the next shopping/dining trip. Ideally, though, a business wants to improve the odds of being selected the next time, too, and in order to have a better chance of being picked, needs, to make themselves stand out.
Be Noticed – Make a Connection
In order to separate themselves from other companies offering similar commodities (a packaged solution), a business must do more. It must connect with its customer. It must empathize with his/her situations (“You must be feeling stressed that your car is broken”. “You must really be worried about your health or legal issue”. “You must be really hot because of the weather”. “You must be exhausted from the long trip”), and say, “Take a moment. I know how you must feel”.
It is assumed that there will be an objective solution offered to address the customer’s problem or situation, the company/brand can reach out with emotional support, as well. It can offer the standard deliverables that everybody gives (and what the customer expects), or it can do more.