Satisfied customers are the holy grail for any company. Leave your customers feeling happy after an interaction with your company and they will likely not just be repeat buyers, but also vocal advocates for your company's services to other potential clients. But figuring out how to satisfy clients can seem like a moving target if you think that customer satisfaction comes from being all things to all people. In fact, the recipe for customer satisfaction is much more straightforward than that--customers are most satisfied when they know what to expect.

If you want your customer to be satisfied...

Align your pricing with the perceived value to the customer. I don't know anyone who is a big fan of the airlines' new airfare upcharges. Luggage to check? That'll cost you. More legroom? Cha-ching. But I bet customers would be a lot more understanding if the airlines applied this new pricing to their entire offering rather than just the services people covet. Choose the middle seat--get a discount. Need to save more money? Opt out of beverage and meal service. I not only would have been more satisfied with a recent trip I took if I had at least paid less for the seat next to the bathroom I wound up with, but I also would have been more inclined to pay for upgraded seats on future flights to get a spot far from the restrooms.

Tell the truth so the customer feels she is getting what was promised. When I got off the plane (and away from the restrooms!) I was looking forward to my hotel stay. I had spent a little extra and reserved what was billed as an "ocean view" room. While I could technically see the ocean from my window, it was at least 5 football fields away, and I had to search for it beyond the hotel grounds, through the trees and across the boardwalk. Not exactly an "ocean view"--more like an ocean glimpse. What the room did have was a beautiful outdoor balcony. Had the hotel just advertised the private outdoor space as the reason to pay more for the room, I would have had a totally different feeling, and felt satisfied rather than shafted by my purchase.

Paint a detailed picture of your product so the customer can purchase with eyes wide open. That room I described above? When I booked it, it seemed like a quiet oasis. In actuality, it was overlooking the hotel's pool and event areas, where the music was on loud until the wee hours. I was traveling with my infant, and had I known in advance I was purchasing a party pad instead of a quiet place to sleep, I would have chosen a different room and been entirely happy with my choice of hotel. Instead I had to make multiple angry calls to the front desk staff asking for quiet, which cost them both time and money because they had to field my complaints and discount my bill in an effort to make things right. By painting an accurate picture of the room I was booking, the hotel could have avoided both, and I would have come home both well-rested and satisfied with my stay.

Satisfying a customer should always be simple: it's all about accurately managing the customer's expectation.