SALES

Why Customer Satisfaction Is BS

Best-selling author Jeff Gitomer explains why focusing on customer satisfaction is a go-out-of-business strategy.
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A few days ago, I spent an hour speaking with best-selling author and sales guru Jeff Gitomer. Gitomer is always outspoken, but there was one thing he told me that really opened my eyes. Here it is:

"The two most bogus words in the business world are customer satisfaction."

After giving me a few moments to recover from my shock, he explained: "Customer satisfaction is just a millimeter above customer dissatisfaction. Just because somebody is satisfied doesn't mean they're happy."

Gitomer pointed out that the entire concept of customer satisfaction is dishwater tepid. Why would a customer who's only "satisfied" hesitate to buy from competitors if they offered much the same thing at a lower price?

Put another way, when was the last time you went out of your way to revisit a restaurant because the experience left you "satisfied"?

More important, "everyone has customers who are never satisfied--who are always asking for a better deal, for instance--but who keep on buying from you," Gitomer explained. "What's really important isn't customer satisfaction but customer loyalty."

According to Gitomer, customer loyalty consists of two simple tests:

  1. Will the customer continue to do business with you?
  2. Will the customer refer you to a colleague?

Gitomer is correct, of course. If you don't win customer loyalty, all the "customer satisfaction" in the world is worse than worthless. It's a distraction, in fact, from the real business of keeping your existing customers and attracting new ones.

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Last updated: Feb 13, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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