One question you need to ask your customers

When you deliver the right service at the right price, at the right time, and to the agreed-upon specifications, it does not lead to customer loyalty. This is because you’ve only made the customer satisfied and mere satisfaction does not lead to loyalty.

In fact, independent studies confirm that customers who are merely satisfied are still very likely to purchase from another source.

However, that is not to say that there is no correlation between customer satisfaction and loyalty. There is, but it’s not what you might think – that as satisfaction increases, loyalty increases in equal measure. The reality is that the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty is not linear. It can best be illustrated by looking at the graph below.

As you can see, the curve has a hockey stick shape.

From highly dissatisfied (1) to satisfied (4), nothing much happens in terms of loyalty. Then, as satisfaction becomes more than mere satisfaction and turns into high satisfaction, loyalty increases sharply.

This implies that when we deliver ‘normal’ or ‘good’ service, we score a 3 or possibly a 3.5 if we are lucky. Customers will be satisfied but not loyal. For them to become loyal, the satisfaction score must exceed 4.

So it’s recommended that organizations aim at 5 not 4. They are not ‘almost’ the same. There is a significant difference between satisfied and highly satisfied, especially when you want to increase loyalty. Here’s an interesting example.

Some years back, Xerox polled 480,000 customers regarding product and service satisfaction using a five-point scale from 5 (high) to 1 (low). Their goal was to achieve 100% 4s (satisfied) and 5s (highly satisfied). But when an analysis of customers who gave Xerox 4s and 5s on satisfaction was done, it was found that the relationships between the scores and actual loyalty differed greatly depending on whether the customers were highly satisfied or satisfied. Customers giving Xerox 5s were six times more likely to repurchase Xerox equipment than those giving 4s.

Hence, to increase customer loyalty, there is only one question you need to ask your customers and one number (the answer to the question) that you need to pay attention to. The question is: On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to recommend our service to a colleague or friend?

The number to pay attention to is 5. Answers from 1 through 4 don’t count.

1 through 3 are in reality answers that correspond to customers who will likely make a negative comment if asked to recommend your organization. The satisfied 4s are lukewarm and don’t count. Only the highly satisfied are counted.

That’s why the only number you need to watch closely is the number of your customers who are highly satisfied. This number is a reflection of loyalty.

If it’s high and – more importantly – if it’s increasing, your organization is doing something right. If it’s decreasing, your organization is doing something wrong.

To keep this number high, which is to sustain high customer loyalty, there’s need to always go beyond what is normal and provide extraordinary service. This results to high satisfaction and in turn loyalty.

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