If Customer Satisfaction Is Your Goal, Don’t Ask Me to Help You!

Last month I got a call from a client wanting me to deliver a keynote address on customer satisfaction. I politely explained, “I don’t speak on customer satisfaction.” My client was shocked, as for the past 12 months I’ve been rolling out a strategic plan in her company designed to increase the bottom line by increasing customer retention and by building a customer recovery strategy. I went on to explain 4 reasons why I, as a fierce customer loyalty advocate, don’t speak on customer satisfaction.

1. Customer satisfaction means NOTHING these days. The truth is, today’s customers expect mediocre service. Apathy is expected. Late is expected. Problems are expected. No follow-through is expected. As long as companies don’t go below these very low expectations, customers are satisfied.

2. Customer satisfaction = “Sufficient or Adequate Service.” When a company achieves “customer satisfaction” what it’s really achieved is getting customers to feel that the service is adequate or sufficient—that it wasn’t horrible. The customer’s expectations, typically very low expectations, were met. That’s all customer satisfaction means.

3. Customers report being “satisfied” only because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing any better.

4. Satisfied customers are not your customers. They’re just with you until they find something better.

I concluded that I do speak on and help my clients build customer loyalty. Customer satisfaction is a feeling…a feeling that low expectations have been met. Customer loyalty, on the other hand, is a set of behaviors that produce revenue.

  • Loyal customers by definition don’t defect.
  • Loyal customers reward the company by buying from you again and again.
  • Loyal customers buy other products or services in your line.
  • Loyal customers tell people in their network about your company (referrals). – That is, they actually market for you and word-of-mouth advertising is the most persuasive form of advertising.

Does loyalty v. a feeling of satisfaction really impact profits? You bet it does! Take a look at these two examples.

A. One of my colleagues, Ed Peters of the 4Profit Institute, conducted a large customer satisfaction survey that provides irrefutable proof that the difference between satisfaction and loyalty can be a “million dollar difference.” Ed’s survey for a men’s clothing store in the Midwest found that customers who had an “excellent” shopping experience (48%) visited the stores an average of 3.9 times a year and spent an average of $465 per visit. Customers who merely had a “good” experience (49%) visited 3.5 times a year and spent only $397 per visit. Excellent service is what builds customer loyalty. Good customer service results in customer satisfaction. Now look at this…the difference between an “excellent” experience and a “good” experience was half a visit per year and $68 in sales – or about $3.2 million a year in lost sales!

B. Suppose two companies add 10 percent new customers a year; company A has a 95% customer retention rate, while company B retains only 90 percent. In fourteen years company A will double in size while company B will not grow at all.
And because of its loyal base, company A’s customers are more profitable. It costs less to keep customers than to get them; money is saved as companies and customers learn to work together; satisfied customers generate more referrals; and it’s much easier to get better prices from loyal customers than from those who are not. The net result is that company A outperforms company B on most measures. Generally, retaining 5% more customers increases the bottom-line by 25 to 95%.

I urge you to stop striving for high customer satisfaction and focus on delivering truly outstanding service and building a profitable base of loyal customers. Satisfied customers will give you a “good” ranking on a survey today and leave you for the competition tomorrow. Loyal customers return again and again, recommend your company often and significantly add to your bottom line!

The Secret of Socrates


How to get irrational customers to think rationally


The diplomatic communicator builds a psychological path toward an affirmative response by strategically getting their “opponent” to say “yes” a number of times.

Get the customer to say yes and keep them, if possible, from saying “no.”

When a person says “no,” all of their pride demands that they remain consistent with themselves. And it is very difficult, once they’ve said ‘no’, for them to change their mind and become “agreeable” with you, because their sense of pride is now involved. And we invest so much in our pride.

Let me give you an example of how this works:

Years ago when I was heading up consumer affairs for a car rental company, I had an escalated call from a very upset customer. The customer was demanding that the company pay him three thousand dollars and some change because our mishap caused him to be three hours late to a meeting. He explained that he was a consultant and his billable rate was $1,000 per hour.

The problem was our fault; there was no way around that. But the demand was unreasonable, and I knew we weren’t going to be able to give in. So, I used the Yes, Yes strategy on him…and here’s how it worked.

“Mr. Jones, you are an astute businessman, are you not?”

 I knew he’d say yes, as he boasted proudly that his clients paid him $1,000 per hour, for his services.

Next, I said…”And, as an astute businessman, I’m sure you only make decisions that make good business sense.”  “Absolutely!”, he said.”

I knew I had him, because I had built an affirmative path. Each of the questions I asked him yielded a positive ‘yes’ response.

So, finally, I said. “I am quite sure that if you were in my shoes, talking to a customer in this situation, that you would not simply give a customer three thousand dollars, because they experienced an unfortunate delay.”

After about three or four seconds, he said, “Ms. Golden, you’re right. If I were you, there’s no way I’d give a customer three thousand dollars for waiting three hours.”

It was that easy…and it will be that easy for you!

Build an affirmative path by asking your customer two simple and obvious questions that you know will result in a YES response. It’s very much psychological…your customer won’t feel comfortable disagreeing with himself…and will feel compelled to say yes so that he agrees with himself!

7 Secrets for Moving Customers Out of a Hardball Mentality

serious call centre rep

Here are 7 proven tips for moving customers out of a hardball mentality into a constructive dialogue.

  1. Confidently acknowledge and address anger.

    A big mistake among customer service professionals is to ignore a customer’s expression of anger or tip-toe around it. There is something known as the communication chain. When people communicate, they expect the person they are communicating with to respond or react…this response is a link in the communication chain. A failure to respond to communication leaves the communication chain unlinked…broken.For example, If I walk into my office and say… “Hello Sherry, how are you?” ….and she says absolutely nothing, she’s broken the communication chain. And that leaves me feeling awkward, perhaps embarrassed.If a customer expresses anger and we fail to respond to it, the communication chain is broken, and the customer feels like they are not getting through. The customer might become even angrier and more difficult, as they are resorting to whatever it takes to feel heard and understood.

    You can keep your angry customers from getting more upset by confidently acknowledging their anger and responding to it. You can respond to anger with a statement like, “Clearly you’re upset, and I want you to know that getting to the bottom of this is just as important to me as it is to you.” This statement directly and professionally addresses anger – without- making the customer even angrier. Now that the anger has been acknowledged, you have completed the communication chain.

  2. Allow the customer to vent, but don’t lose control.

    An Angry customer can be compared to an erupting volcano. When a volcano is erupting, there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t speed up the eruption, you can’t put a lid on it, and you cannot direct or redirect it…It must erupt.When a customer is angry, they must experience and express their anger – and often this is done through venting. We should not interrupt an angry venting customer or tell them to “calm down.” This would be as futile as trying to tame a volcano. A volcano erupts and eventually subsides. Your angry customer will vent and eventually calm down.Always let angry customers vent. In most cases, your customer will only need to vent for fifteen to thirty-five seconds. Venting beyond 35 seconds can become ranting and cause you to lose control. After a few seconds of venting, you’ll want to jump back in and move the conversation forward constructively.

  3. Don’t react emotionally.

    It can be easy to lose our cool when a customer gets hot, but be warned: In most cases, showing frustration, impatience, or acting even mildly upset doesn’t help you move the customer out of a hardball mentality. Usually, losing our own cool does nothing but make the customer even more upset, or our attitude will make the customer even firmer in his original position.If you feel you’re beginning to lose your cool, don’t be afraid to hit the “pause” button. You hit the pause button by putting a customer on hold or telling the customer you will call them back.

  4. Heed Steven Covey’s Words…Understand, then be understood.

    In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Steven Covey tells a story of a patient going in for an eye exam. After briefly listening to the patient’s complaint, the doctor takes off his glasses and hands them to the patient and tells the patient to simply “take his glasses.”

    What are the chances you’d go back to a doctor that prescribes a solution without even diagnosing a problem? You don’t have much confidence in someone who doesn’t diagnose before they prescribe… But how often do we prescribe a solution before completely diagnosing the situation, in dealing with customers?Seek first to understand. Before you try to PRESCRIBE a solution for a customer’s problem before you quote policy or tell a customer what you cannot do, seek to actually understand the customer’s viewpoint. How has the problem impacted your customer? Has your customer lost money, time, respect, or confidence because of this issue? Does the customer feel embarrassed, wronged, discriminated against, or powerless? Try to really understand what your customer is experiencing and feeling. when you respond, communicate your full understanding of the problem from the customer’s perspective. Only then can you truly diagnose, BEFORE you prescribe a solution.

    Listening with the intent to understand gives you empathy for the customer and puts you in the position to solve the real issues. Once you really understand your customer, you naturally begin to communicate with empathy and to communicate more efficiently. Your customer, who feels understood, can now start to understand you.

  5. Don’t belabor your point…no matter how right you are.

    be•la•bor – [bi-ley-ber] – verb: (1) to assail persistently, as with scorn or ridicule (2) work at (something) repeatedly or more than is necessary: He kept belaboring the point long after we had agreed.If you really want to tick a customer off or incite an already upset customer, belabor your point. Repeat your point (your policy; your position) over and over again. I mean really badger the customer with your elementary explanation so that the customer feels they aren’t too bright.

    Customer service professionals all around the world make the mistake of belaboring a point when speaking with customers. Don’t let this happen to you. Only make your point once diplomatically and then enter into a constructive dialogue with your customer.

  6. Get the customer saying ‘yes,’ and if possible, keep them from saying ‘no.’

    When a person says “no,” all of their pride demands that they remain consistent with themselves. And it is very difficult, once they’ve said ‘no,’ for them to change their mind and become “agreeable” with you because their sense of pride is now involved. And we invest so much in our pride.Here’s how it works. Build an affirmative path by asking your customer two straightforward and obvious closed-ended questions that you know will result in a YES response. Once you do that, the customer will be on an affirmative path (with you), and it is far easier for them to agree with your next question. It’s very much psychological…Your customer won’t feel comfortable disagreeing with himself…and will feel compelled to say yes to your third question so that he agrees with himself!

  7. Have a graceful exit.

    When all else fails, you need a way to gracefully get out of a conversation with a difficult or unreasonable customer. Here’s an easy way to gracefully exit: “We see this differently, and I’m going to have to put thought into the perspective you have shared with me. I will visit with my supervisor about your concerns and call you back with a response.”

Continue reading “7 Secrets for Moving Customers Out of a Hardball Mentality”

Recognition Made Easy – 10 Low Cost Ways to Recognize and Reward Employees

Smiling receptionist 

There are two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay is right, as studies indicate that employees find personal recognition more motivational than money. A work climate filled with praise and recognition is a workplace where employees are positive, productive and motivated.

Recognizing and rewarding employees doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Perhaps the primary reason more managers don’t take the time to intentionally motivate employees is that they lack the time and creativity to come up with ideas.

After reading this week’s article you will have no excuses for not motivating your team, because I am giving you 10 low cost ways to recognize and reward your employees.

  1. Call an employee into your office just to thank him or her; don’t discuss any other issue.

  2. Give the employee a 2-hour lunch.

  3. Send a thank you note to a spouse thanking them for their support during the employee’s overtime.

  4. Hold a potluck lunch for your group. This is always so much fun for everyone!

  5. Write a letter of praise to employees recognizing their specific contributions and accomplishments.

  6. Send an email acknowledgement and copy your boss or higher manager.

  7. When paychecks go out, write a note on the envelope recognizing an employee’s accomplishment. (They’re sure not to miss this one!)

  8. Give gift cards. Food, movies, music, whatever!

  9. Provide an extra break. We can all do this, can’t we?

Continue reading “Recognition Made Easy – 10 Low Cost Ways to Recognize and Reward Employees”

How to Resolve Problems Without Giving the Store Away



This training video is from our Golden Method for Complaint Resolution online video course…

The Golden Method for Complaint Resolution Online Video Course
This multi-media online training program positions customer service representatives to regain control of difficult conversations and to regain customer goodwill after even the worst has happened. Full of specific tips to handle difficult customers, as well as tools to completely restore customer confidence in the wake of problems, the Golden Rules Training System guides customer service representatives as if Myra was right there with them.

This program includes 25 video modules with Myra Golden leading customer service representatives through field-tested and proven strategies for regaining control with angry and difficult customers.
View details.