Got satisfied customers? No, you got “vulnerable” customers.

Got satisfied customers? No, you got “vulnerable” customers.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


Got satisfied customers? No, you got “vulnerable” customers.

One of the main reasons “customer satisfaction” is a meaningless statistic is that it’s not predictable, let alone measurable, as relates to business growth.

Right about now all customer satisfaction people, from marketing to award companies, are writing me off as a “know-nothing” human who has no concept of business. “You MUST have satisfied customers or you can’t build a business.”

Wrong SAT-score breath. Way wrong.

“Satisfied” is the LOWEST level of acceptable customer service. Any hotel in the world, can guarantee satisfaction because they can easily fix what’s wrong and count you among their minions. But they won’t guaranty loyalty. THAT would take work.

Satisfaction is NOT an action taken because something is wrong or something broke. Oh no, satisfaction is a feeling — and an indicator of future business.

Enter “loyalty.” The real measure of customer response and value. I only care about two things in my relationship with a customer:

1. Will they do business with me again?

2. Will they refer someone else to me?

Those are the real measurements of success. Why would I want to measure satisfaction when it has nothing to do with a reorder? Why would I want to measure satisfaction when it does not ensure that the customer will stay with me?

You may say that satisfaction leads to loyalty. I will say you have plenty of customers that are never satisfied but still remain loyal to you.

It would seem to me that there are plenty of other words that you could use besides satisfaction that can measure the level of likelihood that a customer will continue to do business with me. Words like happiness, delight, memorability, service excellence, and WOW! are all ten times more powerful than the mediocre “satisfaction.”

If you want to know the real silliness of satisfaction, take a look at the airline industry and telecommunications companies. JD Power gives awards for customer satisfaction, and the companies they give them to, pathetic at service, put big banners up on the wall, proclaiming victory. If it weren’t so laughable, you’d get upset about it. But it’s so silly; you just shrug it off.

These are the same companies that turn over as much as 20% of their customers annually, and have the highest FTC and FAA complaint numbers of any business in the universe. If these same companies spent as much training their people to serve memorably as they do hanging banners all over the place, they might actually do the one thing their shareholders are hoping for retain customers.

Take a look at your own company. How many customers did you lose last year? You may have claimed they were satisfied, and then whined to your boss that you lost them to a lower price. Maybe a better definition of satisfaction than mediocre would be vulnerable. All satisfied customers are vulnerable to the competition, your competition. You may be suffering from loyalty leaks.

Rather than concentrate on customer satisfaction, now’s the time to make a game plan that protects your customers from your competitors. What are you willing to invest to ensure that you don’t lose your best customers to the competitors you hate the most?

And in that equation, is satisfaction one of the words that will create insurance? No, Sparky, your competition is HOPING that your customers are satisfied — vulnerable and ripe for the picking to their memorable service and value-driven actions.

Take a look at what drives loyalty. You may say airline miles. I say airline miles are forced loyalty. The essence of real loyalty is perceived value combined with memorable service. Ask Nordstrom. Ask Lexus. Ask anyone who leads their field, and they’ll all scream “Great service breeds customer loyalty.”

As the New Year approaches, it’s time to renew all of the practices you used to when you first started in business. The enthusiasm, the belief, the desire to serve, the attitude, and the self-confidence that you could help anyone regardless of what it took. And you did it, no matter what.

Take these two actions before the year is out:

1. Call your top ten customers. Invite them to a celebration. Have a creative value-driven conference for a day or two that rewards them, and challenges them that you seek to be better next year, and need their collaborative help.

2. Have everyone in your company create five new ideas of what they can do to serve better and recover better. Reward the best ideas with a thank you, and money. Then reward your customers by implementing these ideas on their behalf.

If you concentrate on helping your customer win, if you concentrate on helping your customer profit, if you concentrate on creating a service culture rather than a sales culture, loyalty will increase, and sales will increase organically.

REALITY CHECK: Listen for the phone. It contains your report card. Not just reorders, but every day someone should be calling your company telling you that they were speaking with one of your customers who INSISTED that they call you and place an order.

Satisfaction is not a measure of anything. It’s an indicator, but not a measurement. The real measure of how it’s working at your company is an unsolicited referral. They tell you that everything is working so well that someone is talking about you with such passion and enthusiasm that it creates a proactive phone call and an order.

That creates real satisfaction. The satisfaction of hearing your cash register ring.

If you would like one more great loyalty idea, go to, register if you’re a first time visitor, and enter the words LOYALTY IDEA in the GitBit box.