Research Paper On Measuring Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is nothing but the experience after the consumption of a product which only compares the perceived quality of the product to that of the expected quality. Customer satisfaction plays a vital role in deciding the purchase decision of customers; it is therefore the building block to develop and manage effective customer relationships for sustainable marketing. Hence measurement of customer satisfaction is the key to a business organization to maintain a competitive advantage. Time and again, it has been recognized that honoring the customers’ point of view and acknowledging their expectations alone result in increasing customer loyalty and increased business turnover. Measuring customer satisfaction is interesting to the extent that it not only gives marketers thorough knowledge about the customers but a deep understanding about the business strategies of competitors as well.
Today, customers at the market place are confronted with a wide array of products that are likely to satisfy their needs. To choose from among many brands available in the market, customers have in their own minds expectations on the products and the associated satisfaction that ultimately motivate them to buy the brand (Kotler, 2014).While a satisfied customer continues to buy again and speak to others about the merit of the product, an unsatisfied customer is more likely to switch to other brands and discourage others from buying the particular brand. Customer satisfaction implies how the products and services offered by a marketer meet or surpass the expectation of customers. Customer satisfaction provides business organizations and marketers with a dimension, which they can use to improve their business. Customer satisfaction is the foremost indicator of the purchase intention and behavior of a customer toward buying a particular brand of a product. Organizations involved in marketing and business management aim at satisfying and sustaining the customer base for the purpose of making more profits, improving the organization’s competitiveness besides securing its market share. Therefore, periodic measurement of customer satisfaction and analyzing how it relates to the company’s profits and competitiveness by developing suitable methods is crucial for the growth of the company.
Gone are the days when customers were less reactive and critical in expressing their dissatisfaction about a product; customers today are increasingly becoming more demanding and intolerant. Also, gone are the days when the choices available to the customers were limited and the business owners had the power to control the market; since customers had no alternate options, customer satisfaction was irrelevant at the marketplace. Today, the situation has entirely changed, and customers have lot of possibilities and alternatives, which has resulted in shifting the power toward the customers. Obviously, across the globe these days, managerial interest seems to grow toward observing customer satisfaction as the primary indicator to evaluate the quality of a product. Therefore, an elevated customer satisfaction rating is often seen as the best sign of a company’s profit in the future. Satisfaction is always measured with reference to a specified pre-purchase anticipation. Customer satisfaction is closely linked to both products and services which can be experienced at different situations. It is highly a subjective and personal assessment greatly influenced by the expectations of customers. Also, satisfaction is based on a customer’s experience or relationship with an organization and his or her personal outcomes. Researchers describe satisfied customers as those who significantly receive added values to their bottom line (Hanan and Karp, 1989). Nowadays, marketers are driven by customer expectations, and meeting their demands is of primary importance to them. Even though at times customer satisfaction is purely not based on the quality of a product other factors like relationships with the customers also count significantly in influencing the customer satisfaction.
In a sense, customer satisfaction studies have more to do with assessing the performance of the concerned organization itself, because it is ultimately the product or service provided by the company decides customer satisfaction. In the current global economy, knowledge has become a valuable resource and a commodity. Hence, proper application of knowledge through innovation and creativity can enrich customer satisfaction. To measure customer satisfaction, knowledge on the factors that decide customer satisfaction is quite important. The basic factor that influences customer satisfaction is the motivation of the marketing personnel in the pay roll of the company itself. Since only self motivated and satisfied employees alone are able to give satisfying services to the customers, organizations should pay extra effort in investing on their own human resources. Therefore, assessment of the job satisfaction of the employees is an indirect indicator of satisfaction level of customers.
Effective measurement of customer satisfaction is a real challenge. For example, if someone goes to a restaurant and is satisfied by the service and experience, he will continue to go to the restaurant. Thus, positive evaluation of a service or experience in the restaurant motivates a person to go to the same restaurant again and again. In short, customer satisfaction leads to brand loyalty, which in turn leads to repurchase. Feedback surveys are one of the best ways of measuring customer satisfaction. However, the biggest challenge is that customers may not be interested in filling up survey forms that take quite a lot of time to fill up. Studies prove that only five to ten percent of the customers ever fill feedback forms (Beard, 2014). Therefore it is important to design the survey forms simple and short. Statements requiring rating on a one to ten scale would be more convenient. Customizing and personalizing the surveys through e-mails are found to increase the customer response up to 65 percent (Beard, 2014).
Studying the post purchase behavior of customers would be helpful to the marketers in measuring the customer satisfaction. The customer is either likely to feel satisfied or unsatisfied about the product he or she has purchased, and both would be of great significance to the marketers. If the gap between the expectation of the customer and the performance of the product is higher the customer is likely to feel a high degree of dissatisfaction. If the customer is satisfied, the company can plan to expand its reach to other geographical areas and segments, and if not, the company can think about remodeling the product or marketing strategies to promote customer satisfaction. Festinger (1962) argues that each consumer, after a major purchase is likely to feel a cognitive dissonance to a certain degree. Cognitive dissonance is nothing but a conflict or discomfort caused in the mind of the customer about the very decision to go ahead with the purchase. Even though customers are glad about having bought a particular brand, they feel satisfied up to certain extent, while at the same time they feel happy at not having chosen another brand that according to them contained certain defects. However, customers gradually realize about the plus points of the other brand and think more about the drawbacks of the chosen brand and begin to feel dissatisfied. Therefore, measuring the cognitive dissonance or post purchase behavior of customers through effective customer feedback would be of great help to devise alternate product promotion strategies. A satisfied customer is a potential advertiser for the product through good word of mouth whereas cognitive dissonance is likely to spread unfavorable word of mouth about the brand.
More often, the difference between an organization that simply survives and an organization that thrives exceedingly well in the highly competitive market is that the latter is adjusting to the demands of the continuously changing expectations and attitudes of the customers. A customer’s decision to buy a particular product is motivated by one or more objectives; whether the customer’s objective has been met or not depends on the satisfaction the customer gains by comparing the performance of the particular brand of product with yet another brand. The customer’s chance of buying the product again or not purely depends on the satisfaction he or she gets out of using the product. Dissatisfaction about the product is also likely to prompt the customer to influence others through bad word of mouth. Therefore, measurement of customer satisfaction is vital for marketers to study if the product and the marketing strategies adopted by the company are customer-friendly and thus are capable of fetching good profit and market share to the company.
Beard, R. (2014, December 18). The simplest and most accurate way to measure customer satisfaction with client heartbeat. Retrieved March 31, 2015, from http://blog.clientheartbeat. com/measuring-customer-satisfaction/
Festinger, L. (1962). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Hanan, M., & Karp, P. (1989, January 1). Customer satisfaction: How to maximize, measure and market your company's ultimate product. American Management Association.
Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (2014) Principles of Marketing (15th ed.) Essex: Pearson.