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Customer satisfaction is down, but there are ways to make customers happy

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction has been on a downward trajectory and is at its lowest level in nearly two decades.

Authors Tomas Hult and Forrest Morgeson analyzed customer satisfaction data and provide tips in Harvard Business Review about how businesses can increase customer satisfaction, which they say is a combination of customer expectations, product quality and value, and complaint handling. They say optimizing these aspects of the customer experience can pay big dividends.

ACSI data shows customers’ expectations of companies have remained fairly steady during the past 12 years. But the authors warn that attempting to always exceed expectations is not sustainable because it is impossible to achieve. Rather, they say: “Companies can and should delight the customer with an amazing experience but with realistic aims.”

The ACSI study also found product quality is more important than both price and value as a driver of overall satisfaction.

But what if customers are unhappy with any or all of these? Hult and Morgeson say: “Complaint handling has to be almost perfect for customers to come back and be at least as satisfied as before they complained” and “customers who experience a problem and complain but receive successful complaint management end up with stronger than average loyalty.”

The authors also say: “Managers tend to overestimate customers’ expectations, perceived value, satisfaction and loyalty while underestimating customers’ complaints.”

The key, they say, is learning how to hit the right notes with customers while paying close attention to complaints. You can learn more about their findings in their book The Reign of the Customer: Customer-Centric Approaches to Improving Customer Satisfaction.

AMBIKA PUNIANI REID is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA’s vice president of communications.


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