Understanding a key principle in customer satisfaction


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“One great reason why men practice generosity so little in the world is, their finding so little there. Generosity is catching; and if so many men escape it, it is in a great degree from the same reason that countrymen escape the small-pox: because they meet with no one to give it them.” – Fulke Greville (1554-1628)

The essentials of customer satisfaction lie in the abilities of employees to provide a level of personal attention to customers that improves their situation or quality of life, if even for a few moments.  To improve the quality of someone else’s situational experience requires a measure of generosity, because if a customer is experiencing a problem or a question or a need of any kind means that they have a lack of information, resolution, or help.  Generosity, therefore, is a key principle in satisfying customers.

In the laws of physics, areas of lack are filled by areas of plenty; therefore, what customers lack, you must make up for by generously giving of your time, effort, or resources; ie, your plenty.  Customer conflicts occur when there is not a shared understanding of need or desire, and therefore generosity is withheld or directed elsewhere, leaving the customer with an ongoing need or sense of lack.

The World English Dictionary definition of generosity generally brings up its usual meaning, “willingness and liberality in giving away one’s money, time, etc; magnanimity.” However, a secondary meaning is also valid, and is really the heart of where generosity begins: “freedom from pettiness in character and mind.”

Most companies that struggle with low customer satisfaction scores are afflicted with this principle of “pettiness in character and mind” through restrictive policies and procedures. That principle of pettiness is transferred to the employees through their training, who then live out this low state with customer interactions, exacerbating customers by constantly referring “company policy” as to why they cannot help; hence, low overall customers satisfaction.

In contrast, those who are generous with customers are typically freed from restrictive policies and procedures (although they still have them) and understand their purpose is not to be a “gatekeeper” for the company, but a resource for customers by providing relevant information, coordination of resources, or physical help in some way. Even if the ultimate resolution is different from the original customer desire or expectation, it should demonstrate to the customer that the company is willing to be helpful.

That generosity is contagious helps the position of the generous employee, as well. The more that generosity is practiced, the more reasonable it appears to others, and a true culture of satisfaction is created through the considerate, generous practices of teammates.

Just for fun…

“Acquaintance: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.” – Ambrose Bierce

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Martorano
Steve has been on the front lines with customers for over 25 years. He is currently Director of Customer Services for Polygon Northwest, a real estate developer in both the Seattle and Portland markets. Steve is also the creator of ThinkCustomerSatisfaction.com, an online resource designed to provide insights and training to customer professionals across many industries.


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