In business administration , sales and trade psychology, customer satisfaction refers to an abstract construct of social research which - if the confirmation / disconfirmation model is used - is described as the difference between customer expectations and satisfaction of needs . Customer satisfaction can be viewed as the result of a complex comparison process in which the consumer, after using a material good or a service, compares his subjective experience (actual performance) with a comparison value (target performance). If the performance exceeds expectations, the customer is very or even extremely satisfied (enthusiastic). If both correspond, he is satisfied (which is not enough for long-term customer loyalty / loyalty). If his expectations are not met, he is somewhat or very dissatisfied (angry).
Customer satisfaction serves as an indicator of the quality of customer loyalty measures and quality management . It plays a central role in current marketing theory and practice, so managing customer satisfaction has become a major challenge for many managers , especially retail managers , but e.g. B. also in non-profit organizations. When determining the optimal customer satisfaction, the customer value must be taken into account.
If a customer sees their expectations of the service being met, i.e. the actual state corresponds to the target state, the customer is satisfied. In this case one speaks of confirmation. When expectations are exceeded, the customer will be delighted. Positive disconfirmation is also used here. If, on the other hand, the expectations are not met, i.e. the actual performance is below the target performance, the customer is disappointed or is in a state of negative disconfirmation. Taking learning processes into account, the learn paradox can occur: “Satisfied first-time buyers can become dissatisfied repeat buyers. Dissatisfied first-time buyers can become satisfied repeat buyers. "
Often, customer satisfaction is determined through surveys for a company in order to find approaches to improve customer satisfaction and the usually associated customer loyalty . The measurement of customer satisfaction is also required as part of quality management in accordance with the ISO 9000 series of standards. In Germany, the customer monitor research project in Germany is considered a reliable method of checking customer satisfaction .
Consequences of customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is seen as an important cornerstone of market-oriented company management, because high customer satisfaction leads to a (positive) influence on:
- the willingness to recommend
- repurchase behavior
- the purchase of further products from the company ("willingness to cross-buy")
- the willingness to pay a higher price for the product
and enables the provider:
- Expansion of the target group
- Development of the pricing policy
- Optimization of the product policy
- Inexpensive advertising for the product offered
- Generation of recommendations or references
- Increase in customer loyalty
Satisfied customers can act as an active reference, i.e. i.e., they tell others about their positive experiences. In the long run, customer satisfaction can solidify into the commercially desirable customer loyalty (brand loyalty or business or shop loyalty). On the other hand, dissatisfied customers are a great danger for any company. It has been shown that dissatisfied customers pass on their negative experiences far more often than their positive ones. In addition, disappointed customers migrate from the company and switch to another provider. With good quality assurance and complaint management , this churn can be prevented and customers become tied to a company. Permanently dissatisfied customers can also be excluded from the company under certain circumstances (customer exclusion, demarketing ).
When it comes to customer satisfaction, the quality of the products or services and - especially in retail - the possibility of article alternatives in the range play a role. Customer satisfaction is the customer's perception of the fulfillment of both their natural expectations (basic factors) and their expressly expressed wishes (performance factors). Consequently, the enthusiasm factors that - like basic and performance factors - were introduced by Kano must also be mentioned at this point. The latter are the factors that are used to trigger exactly what binds customers most to a company, enthusiasm. They are not expected by customers and therefore only have a positive effect on satisfaction. Kano also defines several other factors that are of secondary importance for the measurement and management of customer satisfaction.
These include all service components, the fulfillment of which the customer implicitly assumes. The customer assumes that his order (see customer order ) will be fulfilled on time and as agreed and that he will only be billed for the services (products) that have actually been performed (delivered). If they are not met, the customer will be dissatisfied. Basic requirements are taken for granted by the customer. If these are exceeded, the customer generally does not honor this service.
These are expectations expressed by the customer (specifications) and measurable performance requirements. If they do not fully meet expectations, dissatisfaction arises - if expectations are exceeded, satisfaction increases. Performance requirements can be recorded using the classic methods of market research (oral or written surveys).
Dissatisfaction can have two causes: excessive expectations on the part of the customer or poor performance on the part of the provider. As part of customer relationship management , customers with excessive expectations should be identified and either “re-educated” or their own services adjusted accordingly (see also Customer Care Concept ).
The customer experience (CEM) is based on such analyzes, in order to create positive customer experiences. With this, CEM not only focuses on direct effects such as willingness to buy, sales or intensity of use, but also specifically on indirect effects such as word of mouth . Compared to CEM, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is less defined by the actual preferences of individual customers, but more from the company perspective by dealing with customer data such as B. Age, place of residence, preferences. Critics of the classic approach therefore see a discrepancy in CRM between the company's approach to assumed customer expectations and their actual ideas. The use of CEM, on the other hand, is more a question of the company's fundamental customer orientation.
The distinction between basic factors and performance factors goes back to the two-factor theory (Herzberg) . Building on this typology, Kano developed the Kano model named after him , in which he introduced a number of other factors:
- Enthusiasm requirements (not expected by the customer, but appreciated, if any)
- Insignificant factors (neither expected nor estimated by the customer, but also not rejected)
- Rejected factors (expected by the customer to be non-existent).
Differentiation of static from dynamic customer satisfaction
The dynamic view of customer satisfaction over time represents a further development of the static view. This so-called satisfaction dynamic extends the static view, whereby satisfaction is viewed as a pure post-purchase phenomenon for a process-oriented investigation of the development of satisfaction dynamically over time.
The previously predominant concentration of satisfaction research on statistical analyzes emerges from methodological problems with the longitudinal analyzes necessary to investigate satisfaction dynamics.
Customer Satisfaction Index
The customer satisfaction index or customer satisfaction index is a complex and meaningful analytical tool for characterizing the development of customer satisfaction. In order to determine the customer satisfaction index, the customer's satisfaction with individual criteria (as the difference between the performance requirements and the perceived performance) and the significance of these satisfaction areas are asked. Loyalty serves as the target variable for the weighting. The core parameters of actual satisfaction and importance determined in this way are then incorporated into the calculation of the customer satisfaction index (CSI).
The key figure (KPI) allows a comparison over several periods in the sense of a trend analysis and is suitable for internal or external company comparisons ( benchmarking ). A further distinction is made between the CLI ( customer loyalty index or customer loyalty index ).
Further instruments in customer satisfaction management are the Net Promoter Score and the CSP , Customer Satisfaction Power. CSP , this measure of customer satisfaction, combines the expectation with the rating given by the respondent to a product or its properties. The basis for measuring expectations is the cano potential, which is collected for each person interviewed at the same time as the property is assessed.
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