by James Canada
We once believed that customer satisfaction would increase as long as conformance to customer requirements increased. In other words, give them exactly what they ask for, and they’ll jump for joy. Simple, right?
Not exactly. We now know that a customer’s level of satisfaction is a bit more complicated and driven by two factors that define the overall perception of quality:
- How well the goods or services meet their “must-have” requirements
- Whether those goods or services exceed their expectations
These are known as the two dimensions of quality.
First, customers have basic requirements that must be fulfilled. Of course, failure to meet these requirements results in dissatisfaction. However, meeting them alone may result in a neutral opinion, which, from a customer service perspective, is almost as bad as being disliked.
To truly please the customer, you need to exceed their expectations. Your product or service must have unexpected or exciting quality characteristics that take the customer from a neutral opinion to high satisfaction.
As an international consultant in the corporate environment, I challenged myself to not only deliver my project in a timely manner, but also to come up with 10 process improvement ideas. Ideally, the client’s implementation of these ideas would pay for my services. My customers were always thrilled.
Of course, customers didn’t always implement my ideas. But because I took the initiative and tried to help them, their overall satisfaction with my services was much higher. Applying this concept to my ownership of a small business has served us well. Our team takes a proactive approach, offering ideas and services learned from best practices of other customers. This core value sets us apart from our competitors.
As Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos, said: “Listening to customers must become everyone’s business. With most competition moving ever faster, the race will go to these who listen (and respond) most intently.”
James H. Canada is managing partner/CEO for Alliance Technologies LLC, ITEN mentor and author of “Corporate to Entrepreneur: Strategies for Success.” Contact Jim at email@example.com, 636-734-2337 or www.alliancetechnologiesllc.com.