Your business should not be satisfied with customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is important and customer satisfaction surveys are a fundamental practice every company should have in place. But for a luxury brand—or any brand that takes its customer experience seriously—assessing satisfaction should be merely the beginning of a much more thorough process.

Not convinced? Here are three reasons your business should not be satisfied with customer satisfaction:

Customers are not always satisfied for the right reasons. The essential question every brand must ask itself is, “Why do we want our customers to be satisfied?”  Different things satisfy different customers. A bargain-hunter will be most satisfied when a brand offers radical discounts. A shy shopper may be most satisfied when no sales associate ever looks their way. A woman in a hurry might be satisfied because the store was not crowded. But what value are these kinds of satisfaction to a brand? Do they increase sales or foster advocacy? Do they build relationships? No, they don’t. One must go well beneath the surface of satisfaction to understand customer experience, discover the most essential customer profiles, and learn what drives their happiness.

Customers cannot be satisfied with what they do not know is possible. Most people in the modern world have low expectations for customer service. We are used to not being greeted, having our presence ignored, and enduring a tedious wait for assistance—and yes, even luxury customers have these experiences in luxury boutiques. It’s a sad state of affairs, and it means that people are apt to be satisfied with what is really the bare minimum: a hello, a bit of help, any amount of personal attention. Luxury brands do not want their sales associates providing the bare minimum. They spend millions developing the best processes for customer care.  But unless the customer knows what kind of care to expect, in detail, that process is wasted. Many customers will never get that experience and still count themselves satisfied when nothing especially bad happens. To improve customer experience, you need to go beyond what the customer expects—but a customer who does not know that something beyond expectations existed will invariably be satisfied with the same old bare minimum.

Satisfaction is a low standard. Let’s be honest: this world is flooded with products. The average consumer is faced with the opportunity to buy more products than they can imagine, and the luxury consumer is faced with triple that number. There are hundreds of thousands of brands competing for your customers’ attention, and tens of thousands of those brands can offer a “satisfying” experience. Satisfaction is not a point of differentiation. It does not make your brand interesting, it does not make it special, and it will not create either loyalty or advocacy. It takes meaningful, unique, and memorable experiences to build a relationship with the modern luxury consumer, not “satisfying” ones.  Don’t think about how satisfy customers. Think about how to engage them by building emotional connections.

What do we do when technology makes a process simpler? Do we just breathe a sigh of relief? Do we settle?  Of course not! If we were happy with simplification, we’d still be using word processors- the simplified typewriter. The proper response to the simplification of a process is to develop a more sophisticated process, one that allows us to learn new things, to go deeper, go bigger, get better.

So yes, the ease and simplicity of digital customer satisfaction surveys is a great thing, but only because it finally allows us to go beyond satisfaction to what really matters: delivering extraordinary customer experiences.

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