Customer Satisfaction is Impossible


Share on LinkedIn

Yes or No – do you really believe that high levels of Customer Satisfaction are achievable? If so, how will you know?

Management at many companies will point to their recent Customer Satisfaction Survey results and claim their company had achieved customer satisfaction. Good news for the stakeholders, right? But numbers from surveys can be very deceptive. Unless the satisfaction levels are at 100%, customer satisfaction has not been achieved. If levels are less than 100% does it mean the company has fully-satisfied customers? Actually, it means there are a number of fully satisfied customers but as a whole, the customer base is not all satisfied.

If a company achieves high levels of customer satisfaction based on a recent survey, should they feel proud? In short, no. Let me clarify that. It’s not that I am a “glass half empty” kind of a person but surveys are mere indicators of trends or averages not factual results about the truth. When I see results from surveys I always question what did not get counted. I want to know why the ratings did not reach 100% and why the participation from survey takers did not achieve 100%. What is in those missing numbers will speak volumes about the satisfaction levels of the customers.

For instance, many customers will never ever take surveys, for whatever reason. There is no way to factor in their responses if they don’t take the survey. Other individuals never ever give perfect ratings for anything for they feel that the highest ratings are likely not achievable (I am like this). These individuals will give scores that are less than the highest yet you’ll never know from their survey sheet if the score reflects someone who doesn’t give perfect scores or someone who has really been less than satisfied.

Many other customers are so bitter about their experience that they get more irritated when presented with a survey about their satisfaction (I fit this category). They too will not take the survey and there is no way to factor their responses into the overall results of customer satisfaction.

When a company claims they have an 85% (for example) satisfaction rating, they REALLY mean that 85% of the people who bothered to take the survey gave scores that averaged out to an 85% rating. In addition, the survey takers responded to the questions on the survey, which still may not indicate what they really feel about their customer experience.

The summary message in this article is to use caution when asking your precious customers to take time to fill out a survey that will not realistically reflect the true state of customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction surveys do not present the whole picture – or truth – behind levels of customers who are satisfied.

Darcie Davis
A career focused on finding the factors that inspire customer/client retention was shaped from, often naively, relentlessly asking questions. I am the founder of HUDDLE Sessions for Women which offer pop-up advisory boards.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here