December 24, 2009
By Brian Tracy
If sales are the engine that drives your business, then customer satisfaction is the fuel. Your ability to satisfy your customers is the critical determinant of your success in driving sales and growing your business. There are four levels of customer satisfaction, all based on the degree to which you meet customer expectations. The higher the level you achieve, the more you will build customer loyalty and the greater will be your success.
Meet Customer Expectations
The minimum requirement to simply stay in business—to survive—is to meet the expectations of your customers. At this level, your customers have no complaints. They are satisfied for the moment. But they are not loyal. If a competitor demonstrates that it can and will do more than merely meet their expectations, your customer will very quickly become ex-customers. Moreover, if you fail to meet their expectations, perhaps only one time, they will leave and find someone else who will. It can be instructive to observe your local merchants—true entrepreneurs.
Exceed Customer Expectations
This higher level of customer satisfaction is reached by surprising your customers, going beyond what they expected. Fast, friendly service, followed up by a phone call to make sure everything is all right, might put you into this category. So does a product or service that is a cut above that of your competitors. The second level of customer service moves you beyond mere survival, building a measure of customer loyalty and giving you an edge over your competitors. It can also increase your profitability. Customers who experience the kind of service that exceeds their expectations are often willing to pay for it, enabling the supplier to raise prices and thus improve profit margins.
Delight Your Customers
Have you ever experienced a level of service that not only exceeded your expectations, but actually brought a smile to your face? A customer served at this level is truly delighted. Not only have the customers’ basic needs been met, or even exceeded, but they have truly been touched on an emotional level. And once customers have enjoyed this experience, it will be very difficult for a competitor to pry them away. When you delight your customers, you are on the way to creating an exceptional and highly profitable business. There are countless cost effective ways to delight your customers. Consider the difference between first-class and coach service on most airlines. To delight your customer is to show that you care-about them. No wonder it brings a smile to their face! The greater your success in delighting your customers, the greater success you will enjoy in your business.
Amaze Your Customers
This fourth level of customer satisfaction is what will propel your business into the stratosphere. It requires you to, not just meet or exceed your customer’s expectations, nor to simply delight them, but to truly amaze them. When you are able to accomplish this on a regular basis, you will be in a position to dominate the marketplace and achieve remarkable rates of revenue growth and profitability. Examine your business. How might you amaze your customers? The only limit is your own imagination.
What do your customers expect when they purchase your products or services?