I’ve read a number of posts and articles over the last few months about customer satisfaction. Some of the articles support the idea that businesses must try to satisfy their customers’ needs in order to improve customer loyalty, while others adopt an alternative view that meeting customer satisfaction does not result in any tangible signs of increased loyalty. Yet others are now shifting away from customer satisfaction and focussing on customer effort.

How do we make sense of all these differing views competing for our airtime? They all seem valid in their own way. Take the idea of customer effort, I’m surprised we’ve not thought about this before. If as a customer, I can achieve my desired outcome by travelling down the path of least resistance, why wouldn’t I be satisfied? Whether that path of least resistance includes Twitter, email, the phone, chat, Facebook makes little difference.

Perhaps the key is to focus less on satisfaction as the endgame and more on creating a path of least resistance between the customer and their desired outcome. Satisfaction or least effort may well be a natural outcome of this.

At the end of the day I’m not sure if customer satisfaction or customer effort is more about truly understanding a company’s customers or understanding the machinations of the organisation itself. But then what do I know about satisfaction?

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