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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