Satisfied or Loyal – Which are Your Customers?

Satisfied or Loyal – Which are Your 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


Everyone wants loyal customers. Everyone measures satisfaction. I don’t get it. “Jeffrey, 97% of our customers are satisfied.” So what. Satisfied people will go anywhere. Loyal customers come back and tell others.

Let’s take a survey and find out if yours are satisfied or loyal?

Most customer “satisfaction” surveys are nothing more than a pat on the head. Pablum. Corporate butt covering documents. How did we do? (fine) Did you enjoy your stay? (oh, yes) Were we friendly? (oh, yes) Did we meet your expectations? (oh, yes). Oh, no.

Satisfied customers are only a measurement that everyone did their “job.” Big Deal. That’s what they are supposed to do. “Satisfied” or “satisfactory” is another word for “mediocre.” So, “very satisfied,” means “very mediocre.” Oh boy, there’s a group of customers I want to have out there talking about me.

Customer satisfaction is at an all time high. Customer loyalty is at an all time low.

The interesting thing is, Corporate America is teaching everyone that “Satisfaction” is the goal. Somehow the corporate buzzwords, “total customer satisfaction,” seem close to “total quality management” and we all know how successful that was. Duh.

If you took your “satisfaction survey” and added (or replaced it with) one question, your report would be more accurate and truthful than ever. The problem is that it would reveal big holes and major flaws in your system.

The right question would separate the great from the ordinary and give you a real report card. What’s the problem with that you might ask? A big one for employees (including management) trying to maintain the status quo. My question is a boat-rocker.

The question? Ask the customer to describe the most memorable thing that took place during their last transaction with you.

Here are some examples of how to personalize the “memorable” question for your business:

(Product-based company) Please describe the most memorable event that happened to you during your last purchase.

(Hotel) Describe the most memorable thing about your stay with us.

(Professional office) Describe the most memorable thing about the way we answer the phone.

(Office machines) Describe the most memorable event during our last service visit.

As an example, what kind of response do you think companies who have computerized phone answering (“push one if you want…” ) would get if they surveyed their customers about “the most memorable thing that took place on the phone during their last transaction?” Oooh, I can feel the pain of daggers as I’m writing. Ninety percent of the people who write in would express some level of frustration or dissatisfaction with the phone.

And the ridiculous thing is, these are the same people boasting 97.5% “customer satisfaction.” Hello! Welcome to FantasyLand. Have a nice day.

You can get a series of loyalty-breeding answers by adding the prefix word “how” or “why” to the existing questions on your satisfaction survey.

“Would you recommend us…?” is a classic example of worthless information. The real question is “How will you recommend us…?” or “Why will you recommend us…?” Granted, it will require more work to generate the answer on the part of the customer, BUT if they were served MEMORABLY, they will share their answer with glee.

You must also have a large checkbox at the bottom of each survey form that says, “nothing memorable happened.” For your total understanding of the loyalty process, “nothing memorable happened” is the same as, “I’m satisfied.” Rutrow.

Jeffrey, will this also require more internal work to compile the answers of customers? You bet. That’s the best part. It will help every employee, at every level UNDERSTAND the customer better. What a concept.

And for those of you whining, “we don’t have the time,” “we don’t have the manpower,” or the ever popular, “we don’t have the budget.” What you’re saying is, I don’t really want to know what drives my customer from satisfied to loyal, or worse, I don’t really want to know if my customer thinks I have ability to exceed his expectations of service delivery.

What you’re saying is, if we’re losing customers, let’s just advertise to get more, or put pressure on the sales staff to get more of them. Big Duh.

It never ceases to amaze me that companies spend millions to attract new customers (people they don’t know) and spend next to nothing to keep the ones they’ve got. Seems to me the budgets should be reversed (but don’t ask the advice of your ad agency they have other ideas).

And if you still think “satisfaction” is the measurement of your success, I offer you this simple challenge. I can deliver an army of satisfied customers or an army of loyal customers to your door which would you prefer? And how are you sure which kind you have? Biggest Duh.


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