The true measure of success

Author: Paul Edwards

If you see a great movie, do you tell your friends it was satisfactory?

If you eat in an amazing new restaurant, do you say it satisfied you?

If you and your partner enjoy a steamy session of horizontal tango, do you ask ‘how satisfying was that for you?”

Consider what the word ‘satisfaction’ means.

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “good enough to fulfill a need or requirement” and it’s often simply a replacement word for “sufficient” or “adequate.”

Hardly the stuff of inspiration.

Why then do so many businesses use customer satisfaction as a measure of success?

Seth Godin – he of the Purple Cow, Tribes, Permission Marketing etc – believes there’s a very simple equation for customer satisfaction… (What you get) – (What you were hoping for). He believes that problems occur because salespeople and marketers tend to try to amplify the first part (what you’re promised) while neglecting the second.

Mere customer satisfaction is now a commodity that people can get anywhere and they expect no less.

Yet so many businesses fail this basic test.

I got to thinking about this a few weeks ago when I renewed my car insurance.

I’ve been with my current insurer for 5 years now. Each year I get a renewal notice of an increase in my premium and each year, I go online and get a quote as a new customer that’s often hundreds of dollars less. I call up and complain and each year, they drop my quote to the lower price.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to make a claim on the insurance so I don’t know what the level of service will be like if that happens. But the connection I have with them right now is a long way off satisfactory.

In this age of data mining, they could easily determine that I check each year and that I won’t simply accept an increase.

But they don’t.

They assume laziness on my part and I assume greed on theirs – not exactly a mutually rewarding state.

Surprisingly, my insurer is one of the few companies I deal with that never sends me an online survey or throws in those quick survey questions at the end of a call. Even if they did, I doubt it’d make the slightest difference.

Imagine if there was a better way.

Imagine a company that says we aim for customer delight and develops behaviours and systems designed to deliver it.

Imagine a company that genuinely wants to know how I feel so creates a survey that ranges from I’m bitterly disappointed to I think you’re awesome.

Imagine a company that, in a world of infinite choices, instead of selling me something they hope I’ll live with, sells me something I don’t want to live without.

Now that would be satisfying!

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