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Guaranteed Customer Satisfaction?

Is Guaranteed Customer Service Possible, Or Is It A Pipedream? In the course of researching a different subject, I came across this exchange. The tone of the initial posting really surprised me. Maybe we can't guarantee customer service, but shouldn't that be our goal?

We all have experienced abominable customer service similar to what Jeffrey Gitomer reports. We know it exists. The question is, what can we do about it? Is there anything we as managers can, or should, do to make sure our organizations deliver excellent customer service? How can we 'guarantee customer satisfaction'?

Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, is one person who really understands.He wrote an article on "How to Improve Your Tips". It compares two options, increasing production volume versus increasing 'profit' per transaction. There are benefits to both approaches and, unfortunately, one works better for some people than others. However, he clearly stresses the value of the latter approach - build a relationship with your customer. Understand what the customer wants. Focus on what you can do to meet their wants, not on what you can't do.

In Terry Brock's excellent article It's not about E-Commerce, it's about R-Commerce, he also stresses the importance of relationships and lists five critical success factors that can help you get more out of your customers instead of worrying about your technology.

The reason customer satisfaction is so important is because of it's impact on your bottom line. As Debra Goldman points out "it leads to repeat business customers enjoying good quality and service enough to return time and time again... Their loyalty will result in additional spending, increased market-share through word-of-mouth promotion, improved reputation, and increased profits. Since satisfied customers are more likely to pay their invoices on time, cash flow can be affected as well."

Of course, not everyone agrees that customer satisfaction is essential. A Braun Consulting article, Satisfaction: Guaranteed?, argues that "Companies may guarantee the satisfaction of their customers, but that does not guarantee that these customers will stick around or contribute positively to the bottom line...Rather than focusing on measures of average satisfaction, companies need to invest in building true customer understanding and knowledge."

Customer satisfaction guarantees are not only achievable, they are essential to creating the proper attitude within a company. Unless an organization is prepared to guarantee that its customers will be satisfied, that organization will not put the policies and procedures in place, will not empower the employees, will not reinforce the enabling behaviors needed to make its customer the number one priority as it should.

Your Turn
So, what do YOU think. Is it possible to guarantee customer satisfaction or are we kidding ourselves? Even if we can't guarantee it, shouldn't we set that as our goal so we have a reasonable chance of coming close to it? Tell me, and the rest of your peers, what you think.

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