Customer satisfaction is dead.
Oh, there are a bunch of huge companies that haven’t figured it out yet. And there are a bunch of hotels and airlines that haven’t figured it out yet. And some (OK most) will never figure it out.
There are even organizations that give out “Customer Satisfaction” awards. (J.D. Power and Associates is among the most notable.) And the companies that win the “satisfaction awards” – especially the WORST SERVICE PROVIDERS IN THE UNIVERSE (like airlines and automobile manufacturers) — brag to everyone. They take out full-page ads. And they put up banners in public places as though it will change the mind of the public that already knows the score.
Another word for satisfaction is: mediocre. How would you like to win an award for mediocrity? “We are the highest rated mediocre company in the universe!” What a joke – and not a funny one.
TRUTH: Anyone that posts a “satisfaction” award has an army of people that hate them for the lousy service they provide, AND a bigger army of people laughing at the audacity and the phoniness of the banner.
Satisfaction is the LOWEST level of acceptable service. And in the end, it means nothing. Companies like AOL measure “satisfaction,” while they lose thousands of customers a DAY because of lousy service and apathy. Why measure?
THE FACT IS: Customer LOYALTY is all that matters.
And many companies are (finally) coming to that realization.
I define loyal customers as people who will do business with you again, tell others about you, and refer others to do business with you.
Most large companies spend all their time worrying about “share-holder value” and do nothing at the source of the opportunity: loyalty value.
THE REALITY: To GET loyalty, you first have to GIVE loyalty. Loyalty is a chain. It starts with a corporate philosophy. One that is created and written by the owner or the CEO – NOT the marketing department, HR people, or some ad agency.
The CEO has a vision beyond self-service. His or her vision of the company is the one mission that must be carried out. How can anyone march to a philosophy or a vision that’s not created by the creator?
Can you imagine God saying to his marketing department, “Hey, you guys create a bunch of commandments, and run them by me before you carve them in stone. Oh, and make it an even number, like ten or twenty.” Not too authentic.
Consider the vision of Hugh McColl, arguably the greatest banker of all time, founder of North Carolina National Bank, that ultimately became Bank of America. His philosophy was simple: “I take care of my people, my people take care of my customers, my customers take care of my shareholders.”
He never said, “I want to be the number one bank in the universe.” He just espoused his strategy — his philosophy — and the rest just happened.
Here’s what you can do:
Loyalty starts at home. Loyalty to employees – taking care of employees is the number ONE job of any business owner or CEO. Happy people, respected people, cared-for people, and empowered people are more likely to transfer those feelings to customers. And vice versa.
Take loyal actions. Loyalty to customers stems from the actions that are taken, and the words that are spoken from employees. It’s not just “business as usual” – it’s going the extra mile and taking a proactive approach to communication. Get the idea now? Loyalty is earned.
Earn loyalty and you’ll get it. Loyalty from customers is a result that occurs when all the other elements of your business have been mastered. Loyalty is not a report card. It’s THE report card.
Make loyalty the imperative. From the CEO to the person that answers the phone. From sales to service. From shipping to purchasing. Make loyalty the corporate language. BUT to make it work, there has to be total senior-level support. If you concentrate on loyalty, satisfaction is no longer relevant.
Start with attitude. You can’t teach loyalty, but you can teach and instill positive attitude among all the people in your company. Loyal action and great service STARTS with people who have a positive attitude.
Measuring satisfaction? Waste of time, waste of money, waste of customer interaction. BUT it’s the PERFECT “c-y-a” vehicle for middle management to justify their job and existence.
Here’s the real world measurement:
Will they do business with me again?
Will they refer someone to do business with me?
Will they give a testimonial?
Measure loyalty? Easy. Count the number of repeat customers. Count the number of referred customers. Count sales. And count profit. The rest is bogus.
If you want my formula for loyalty, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time visitor, and enter LOYAL in the GitBit box.
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