I can’t get no satisfaction

Picture_1 Not only is that a title of the Stone's first number one hit in both the US and UK, (by the way, did you know that Rolling Stone Magazine has a Rock and Roll Daily blog?) but it's also a business truth we need to keep in mind.

On the surface, it makes sense.  We want our customers to be satisfied.  Measuring customer satisfaction has become an industry of its own, with recognizable names like JD Powers and other similar institutions in the forefront.

Tracking and understanding a customer’s attitude about a company or product can be very insightful.  It gives the consumer a chance to vent or point out product performance issues or the opportunity to spotlight a good or not so good customer service system or employee.  But what customer satisfaction does not indicate at all is what the consumer will do next time they’re faced with a buying opportunity.

Customer loyalty, on the other hand, is not based on opinion or attitude.  It is a measure of commitment and is a much stronger indicator of future buying choices.  It is also quantifiable.  If one of your customers has been consistently buying a specific product or service every month for the past year and suddenly their buying pattern changes – their loyalty might well have been compromised.

Loyalty can be used for projecting future sales, what will be bought next and revenue estimates.  For a small company, you probably just need to flip through your receivables to detect loyalty patterns.  For larger companies, there are mathematical techniques that you can use with your accounting system to track, trend and nurture loyalty.

A good business wants to pay attention to both satisfaction and loyalty.  Satisfaction will help you identify what is or isn’t working day to day.  Loyalty can help you look ahead and more accurately know what your consumers will want and be able to devise strategies to hang onto those customers long term.

So of course, the question is….how do you create customer loyalty?  Think of a business that you are absolutely loyal to.  You'd rather fight than switch.  What did they do/say to earn that depth of commitment from you?

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