Do you really understand why your clients buy from you, why they remain loyal and what steps you could take to persuade them to buy more from you?
As humans, we are all happy to share good news, but we are frequently less forthcoming when it comes to making others aware that we are dissatisfied, and we are worse still at articulating the causes. For the average person, we resolve not to place any further custom with whoever failed to live up to expectations and slip away to do business with their competitors.
However, if asked by a neutral third party, most of us will openly share the full story, and for anyone who does not give the service they receive and their supplier top marks, has an issue, something that spoilt their enjoyment of the interaction... in other words, something that caused 'dissatisfaction'.
Is Client Satisfaction an Absence of Dissatisfaction?
Client Satisfaction is extremely subjective and many so-called 'experts' in the field rush to say 'Satisfaction' is not enough, businesses needs to 'Delight' their clients, and whilst no-one could rationally argue with this it misses the point: Even a client who has been 'Delighted' by some or most aspects of their total experience, may have negative recollections of one or more aspects of the service they received.
Client Satisfaction is, therefore, an absence of anything that causes Dissatisfaction on the part of each client. In an ideal world, this absence of dissatisfaction would be achieved at the same time as adding to the exchange or experience, aspects that cause 'Delight'. Delight, in general results when aspects of the service delivery and / or client experience exceed the client's expectations.
For more information on this topic you may wish to refer to the works of Professor Noriaki Kano and the Kano Model:
How Is Client Satisfaction Measured?
If we accept that Client Satisfaction is the Absence of Dissatisfaction, the 'variable' that needs to be measured is not 'Satisfaction' but 'Dissatisfaction'. Perhaps the best way to achieve this is by asking a client whether the service they received would score as 'Excellent' or 'Outstanding' on all relevant measures. Provided any particular client gives responses of 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10, i.e. the highest satisfaction score possible, it is reasonable to assume there is an absence of dissatisfaction.
If however any one of the 'scores' is less than perfect, one must assume there is a reason for their lack of total Satisfaction, a root cause of dissatisfaction. An exploration of their response, in particular questioning what the supplier could do to address the cause of their 'lack of satisfaction' will normally provide the information a business needs to effectively measure Satisfaction, or more precisely, to measure Dissatisfaction.
Can Client Satisfaction Be Quantified:
As with many business issues, whilst it is not a precise science Client Satisfaction, or more 'Dissatisfaction' can be relatively quickly and easily be established. For a business with a small number of clients, interviewing all clients will typically identify most if not all of the key 'Dissatisfaction Drivers'. For a business with a single product or service and a single distribution channel, interviewing a representative sample of clients will identify the 'Root Causes of Dissatisfaction' for which when combined with the 'score' for satisfaction also provides an indication of 'Strength of Feeling'.
This analysis provides management with Data mapping Client Dissatisfaction, i.e. Root Causes of Dissatisfaction extrapolated to indicate the total number of clients who are likely to be negatively influenced by each driver, combined with the average Strength of Feeling indicator. The business can then make a value judgement on the issues they should seek to tackle and in what order to address the causes of dissatisfaction.