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  • Writer's pictureBart Berry

The Difference Between Customer Service And Customer Satisfaction

We all love to be welcomed warmly, attentively waited on with polite and enthusiastic anticipation of and fulfillment of our needs by a professional looking worker with a subservient attitude. This is customer service.

Customer Service can be a great attractor for a customer to return to buy that product or service again, but it is not the only factor. What if you are in a restaurant and the service is great, but the food is bad? What if the environment is not clean or attractive? What if you can’t find a place to park or have to wait in line? These and a host of other satisfaction factors will ultimately influence your decision to return to that establishment or recommend it to others. The combination of all these factors in the mind of the customer is what is meant by customer satisfaction.

In his recent book, “What Customers Want!”, Bart Allen Berry presents the results of years of customer satisfaction research, and reveals the ten domains of satisfaction customers are influenced by in any product or service delivery. Berry’s research finds that customers change their selection, return and recommend behavior based upon their overall satisfaction experience.

If we rate the overall customer satisfaction experience on a scale of 1 to 10, (one being the lowest or worst and 10 being the absolute best) what we find is that customer behavior falls into three distinct categories. The lowest category, or what is termed the ‘Zone of Dissatisfaction’ ranges from a 4.1 down to a 1.0. The Zone of Dissatisfaction is characterized by customers who not only don’t return to buy again, but who spread negative word of mouth, complain vigorously or take punitive actions against the supplier in the lowest end of the scale. Overall Satisfaction Experience scores this low means the supplier is probably not only providing bad customer service, but also is probably falling down on the job in many areas simultaneously.

The mid zone of customer experience scores range from 4.2 to 7.9. This is known as the Zone of Customer Indifference. With these scores, customer service could be excellent, but additional areas of value, environment, quality, ease of access or other factors could be pulling the scores down. Suppliers who score in the ‘Zone of Indifference’ have customers who are not loyal, and who may use the supplier solely out of convenience or are perhaps ‘value shoppers’ who might be there for a sale, but will not otherwise frequent the establishment. Mediocre is the way to describe these suppliers, who are vulnerable to competitors who can push their overall customer satisfaction scores higher.

To achieve genuine customer preference or loyalty the research says that a supplier of a product or service must score 7.9 or higher overall with a combination of good performance in each of the ten domains of customer satisfaction. At this level customers will progressively demonstrate more and more loyalty and preference, and increasingly recommend others, as satisfaction scores get higher. Of course customer service behaviors are scoring well at these companies as well as areas of value, quality, timeliness, ease of access, interdepartmental teamwork, environment, and even innovation. 9.24 is the score defined by customers that suppliers must achieve if they are to be termed ‘world-class’. Suppliers with scores this high are known as the best and enjoy great word of mouth advertising and the best reputation, making customer acquisition nearly automatic.

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