I Can’t Be Satisfied


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I’ve been engaged in some really fascinating dialog this week with several colleagues whom I hold in high regard on the subject of the customer experience.

My mind first started stirring after reading Eric Jacques’ latest blog post “Definition of Customer Satisfaction”, where Eric proposed an interpretive application of the expression derived from the words Customer and Satisfaction. 

Now, I’ve never been a huge Rolling Stones fan.  But music being my life-long passion (see, you read this little diddy long enough, you’ll find out all sorts of tidbits), I respect their accomplishments and have followed the band enough to know they sang more than once about satisfaction.  And, the distinction Mick and the boys made between not getting any satisfaction and never being satisfied now seems oddly applicable to Eric’s post and the ensuing logic string it kicked off in my head.

Upon reading Eric’s post, my first thought was “ok, so now what?”.  A similar banter has been occurring for probably too long in social CRM circles around its definition as well.  The most important aspect of defining customer satisfaction is how it manifests in our dealings as customers with providers of goods and services.  How does your perception of whether your expectations of satisfaction were simply met or exceeded translate into action?  If you are merely satisfied, do you continue to give that company your business?  Do you walk?  Do you recommend?  Those are also the questions companies need you to answer too.  Here’s where I went off the rails; when Eric concluded his post with the question, as a company, “should customer satisfaction be your objective?”.  Here’s why.

From a philosophical, intellectual point of view, sure, it’s ok to claim that a company that simply meets your expectations, that satisfies you, is not good enough.  But, after reading Matt Jury’s comment:

“There’s nothing satisfying about someone just meeting you’re expectations.  Unless you’re always used to settling for less.” 

I’m left to wonder if maybe we customers have some culpability in creating the chasm with brands.

Actually, this discussion relates to two other recent posts from Tim Sanchez and Chris Reaburn, who linked the notion of predefined expectations with the perception of the service experience from Apple and Zappos. 

The crux of the conundrum?

What purpose is served in any relationship of not being transparent and clearly articulating your expectations?  However high they may be.  In practice, I think this is actually destructive behavior.  Think about how this approach would impact your other relationships?  What if the folks that worked for you never knew what was expected?   What if your kids felt that whatever they did was never good enough?  Pretty corrosive, right? 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all about lagniappe.  And, I’m a huge fan of @9inchmarketing and The Purple Goldfish Project.  But, when the unexpected becomes the expectation, to the point where good is never good enough, I think we start down a slippery slope of destruction.  Destruction of trust.  Destruction of value. 

If expectations are always a moving target and ever-increasing, if we force companies to play this continuous game of cat and mouse, how do companies and customers ever get to a higher place where co-creation of real value is possible?  Transparency is not one of those one-way police interrogation mirrors.  Customer’s have a responsibility too.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Barry Dalton
Telerx Marketing
Consumed by the pursuit of delightful service. Into all things customer loyalty and technology. My current mission is developing new service channels and the vision of the contact center of the future.


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