The two dimensions of customer satisfaction
The customer’s assessment of their satisfaction following a purchase and consumption of a product involves a comparison of two views:
- What were their EXPECTATIONS of value prior to purchase?
- What was their perception of the value delivered AFTER purchase?
The consumer will engage in a mental comparison and make statements like:
- I am disappointed with the product, I was expecting so much more, the product sounded great in the advertisement (resulting in dissatisfaction)
- I was surprised by how good the product worked. It was one of the cheaper brands so I thought it would be OK, but it greatly exceeded my expectations (resulting in being very satisfied)
- The product did the job, it worked as expected (resulting in being just satisfied)
Outcomes of customer satisfaction
In the three examples above, there were there different levels of satisfaction outcomes: very satisfied, just satisfied and dissatisfied.
These outcomes are very important to marketers as they will determine the future purchasing behavior and loyalty of these customers. It is highly likely that very satisfied customers will continue to be customers of the firm/brand.
However, there are other purchasing and word-of-mouth benefits that are likely to occur with very satisfied customers as compared to dissatisfied customers, as shown in the following table.
|Consumer behavior||Very satisfied||Dissatisfied|
|Likelihood of re-purchase||Quite likely||Somewhat likely, perhaps will give the brand one more chance|
|Long-term loyalty||Quite likely||Quite unlikely|
|Customer lifetime value||Reasonably high due to long-term purchases||Very low due to short-term purchases|
|Likelihood of positive/negative word-of-mouth||Somewhat likely for positive word-of-mouth||Quite likely for negative word-of-mouth|
|Price sensitivity||Low, willingness to tolerate price increases||High, unlikely to tolerate price increases|
|Responsiveness to new products||Quite interested in new products||Less likely to be interested in further products|
|Responsiveness to other products under the same brand name||Likely to purchase our products under the same brand||Less likely to purchase of products under the brand|
|Responsiveness to direct marketing and other forms of promotion||Likely to be high, as quite interested in the brand/firm||Likely to have a low level of response to deals and special offers|
|Willingness to tolerate problems/poor performance||Likely to be accepting of occasional problems||Unlikely to accept further problems without switching brands|
As you can see from the above table, customer satisfaction is a sought-after marketing goal primarily because it not only delivers ongoing sales and loyal customers, but generates significant opportunities to grow through the existing customer base as well as attracting new customers to the brand/firm through positive word-of-mouth. Revenue increases are also likely through reduced price sensitivity and increased product take up rates of very satisfied customers.
Customer satisfaction definition