Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: Why Customer Satisfaction Is a Myth

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Stephan Delbos, writes about the importance of doing more than satisfying customers, you must delight them. I agree! There is a big difference between satisfied customers and loyal customers. Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. – Shep Hyken

Remember the days when “another satisfied customer” was the greatest mark of success for any brand? Well, times have changed, and in an environment where 89% of companies are competing on customer experience rather than price, simply satisfying the customer is no longer enough. The companies that stand out from the competition today individualize the experience of each customer and inspire positive emotions, which lead to loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

What Emotions Mean for Customers

What’s your favorite brand and why? The real answer to the second question might surprise you. Recent studies by neuroscientists including Antonio Damasio have shown that emotion rather than logic is the key driver in decision making. According to Damasio, our analysis of a situation is not nearly as important as our emotional attachment to that situation’s outcome. Without the provocation of emotion, we might never make a decision, whether it’s what we want for breakfast or which brand of socks to buy.

When a customer chooses one brand over another, they do so in large part because of how each brand makes them feel. Focusing on the experience each customer has is key for companies looking to differentiate themselves from competition. But satisfaction is only the beginning.

Why Strive for More than Satisfied?

Customers are willing to pay more for positive experiences, but it’s important for brands not to delude themselves into thinking that satisfaction is positive. Satisfaction is basically the absence of negative emotion: if the customer experience delivered what the customer expected and nothing more or less, they are satisfied. That’s better than being disappointed, of course, but it’s not really enough to keep a customer coming back, especially when the competition know they can get a leg up with better experiences rather than lower prices. In this sense, satisfaction is the fulcrum between positive and negative emotions.

Customer satisfaction means nothing without an emotional connection. And customers who are emotionally engaged are at least three times more likely to recommend a brand, and three times more likely to make a future purchase with them. Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

  • 86% of consumers will immediately quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience
  • 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience
  • 73% of dissatisfied customers cite incompetent, rude, and “rushed” service as the #1 reason for leaving a brand

Customer Experience = Customer Emotion

We hold brands we love in high esteem because they make us feel good. All the positive feelings you associate with the brand, whether it’s how comfortable the mattress is or how great Bach sounds through your new speakers — those are emotional connections. Now think of a brand you’ve had a negative experience with, either because of a faulty product or poor service. That’s also an emotional connection.

When a customer is delighted by an experience with a brand, whether it’s because of help at point of sale or responsive and personalized customer service on Twitter, they make a positive association with that brand. In the long-term, the brands that provoke positive emotions in customers more often will enjoy more loyalty and also benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.

How to Connect to Customers

How can brands inspire more positive emotions in customers? It requires a shift in thinking about customer service and what it should do. The old way of whack-a-mole-style service, where each inquiry was to be dealt with as speedily as possible, is over. Here’s how brands can really connect with customers:

  • Shift dominant KPIs from efficiency to empathy
  • Give agents the freedom to connect with customers individually
  • Utilize data to individualize customers
  • Route customers to the best agent

The world’s savviest brands have already put these ideas into practice. They’re the ones you hear about when customer service stories go viral. Service that’s responsive, results-driven and tailored to each customer is the goal. Outstanding service inspires positive emotions.

Inspiring interactions blur the boundary between service and marketing and help brands stand out for being human, available, and a lot of fun. That keeps customers coming back for repeat experiences. Customers who are satisfied are yours for the moment; customers who are delighted are yours for life.

Editor and Content Manager at Brand Embassy, Stephan Delbos has more than a decade of experience in business journalism. He is inspired to bring emotional connections and real experience back into customer service.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: How Effective Is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

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