Why merely satisfying customers should never be the end goal


"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." Albert Einstein

I met someone recently who runs a children’s nursery with his wife. He told me a story that perfectly sums up why merely satisfying customers should never be the end goal.

A young mum rang the nursery on her way to a job interview to tell them her car had broken down. Her child wasn’t in nursery that day and she wasn’t quite sure why she had rung that number. Instead of saying ok and I hope you get things sorted (which let’s be honest is what most people would do) the owner asked the mum where her interview was and at what time. Establishing that there was still time to get there, the owner collected the mum and dropped her at the station, having checked train times to see she could make it. Whilst she was at her interview he arranged for the AA to look at her car and tow it to nearby garage for repair. He then collected the mum from the station and was pleased to hear she had been offered the job.

I asked him why he had gone to so much trouble and he said because he could and he knew it would make her happy. He understood when he spoke to the mum what a stressful day she was having and knew that he could make it better.

Did the mum go away a satisfied customer? The word ‘satisfied’ means meeting expectations or needs but implies not going beyond this. Whilst this is a great start, is it not better to delight the customer and exceed their expectations, as this nursery owner clearly did?

Going that extra mile is about more than just making customers happy, it also makes good business sense. Walt Disney knew a thing or two about happy customers and good business when he stated “Do what you do so well that they’ll want to see it again and bring their friends”.

Happy customers tell their friends about their experience which leads to new customers. Conversely, unhappy customers tell everyone they know about their bad experience which not only threatens existing customers but stops new ones coming your way.

Loyal customers are grown from happy customers and will pay more to experience great service which in turn leads to better business returns. They also make employees feel happy and proud, and believing they make a difference which of course they do by going that extra mile.

Research suggests the cost of acquiring new customers is 5-10 times that of retaining an existing customer. This means making customers happy has a big impact on the bottom line.

How do you get happy customers? It starts with having a very detailed understanding of your customers- What frustrates them? What do they value? What is important to them? And then using this to identify the ways you can them happy. Businesses often think great service is about the big things but it seldom is. Ringing a customer back promptly when they have a query, chasing down a late delivery, making them feel important and listened to all contribute to making their experience a positive one. As Jan Carlzon, the ex CEO of SAS airline once said “ You cannot improve 1 thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 things by 1%” "

So the next time you see a report that says customers are 100% satisfied, ask what % of these are happy customers, because there is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal one.

By George Marketing works with businesses to put in place the foundations of great marketing and customer service.

If you would like to find out more about how I can help your business have happy customers, please contact me on +44 (0) 7342 697677 or email me at cerigeorge@bygeorgemarketing.co.uk to arrange a discussion.

#customerneedsandwants #customerservice #marketingsuccess #marketingforgrowth #Marketing

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