Company Culture

My #1 Customer Experience Pet Peeve: Customer Satisfaction

Time to Read: 3 min

Brett Arrington

on December 30, 2019

There are a lot of things people say, believe, and/or do related to customer experience that annoy me. I call these my Customer Experience Pet Peeves. (Yeah with caps) Like I said, there are a lot. Things like printing an ugly black and white sign with a crappy inkjet printer in their business and leaving it up for more than 3 hours, much less 3 years. If you need a semi permanent sign go to Staples and get it designed and printed. Frame it for Pete’s sake. But I digress.

Perhaps my #1 pet peeve is people talking about “customer satisfaction” as if it were a good goal. The reality is that 86% of customers who say they are satisfied are willing to try another brand. What a great goal! I would really love to be on the verge of losing 86% of my customers. Sounds like a great business practice.

Because this is my pet peeve I look for all the silly signs saying things such as “Your satisfaction is our #1 goal.” My wife makes fun of me because I probably have 100 pictures of these signs. You can even buy pre-designed signs at sign companies that say similar phrases. (Don’t believe me?

In reality, customer satisfaction is table stakes in the Experience Economy we live in. If we were to make a step by step plan for a great customer experience, satisfaction would be at the very bottom, underneath the first step. It's like the flour to make a cake. If all you have is flour you will not make a cake.

But what does it mean to satisfy a customer? Customer satisfaction is meeting your customer’s expectations. Or in other words doing what you say you will do. Customer satisfaction requires a good operation. In the past meeting customer expectations was enough to build a very solid business. Even today it pretty much guarantees survival. Modern operational technology and learning has made satisfaction a fairly easy thing for companies to fulfill. Think back to what made Domino’s Pizza.

“You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less -- or it’s free.”

This was an operational promise that very few companies could compete with at the time. Today? It’s an afterthought. Companies can’t compete on promises like this anymore. We have come toexpectfast pizza. It’s not longer a value adding benefit. Satisfaction is 100% transactional. A brand promises something, fulfills the promise and the customer pays the asked amount. No one owes the other anything. They are even. They don’t owe each other money. The customer certainly doesn’t owe the company extraordinary amounts of loyalty. They paid in cash.

When companies exceed expectations, not only are customers satisfied but (and I’ve thought a lot about this word before using it) they are seduced. Seduced customers fall in love with a brand. They want to introduce it to their friends. It’s very much like a human relationship. Satisfaction is taking a shower before a date. Seduction is wearing perfume. Satisfaction is going to the movie. Seduction is sending flowers and chocolates before the date. Satisfaction is providing economically for a family. Seduction is creating experiences for and spending time with the family.

Repeat customer buy more often and with less price sensitivity than first time customers. Creating a repeat customer is the #1 goal of successful companies when they first meet a customer. Roughly 40% of revenue for decent companies come from repeat customers. Great companies have seen much higher numbers. As we have learned, keeping your promises isn’t enough to keep them coming back. If you aren’t at a level that gives your customers satisfaction, by all means make that the next step in your list of goals. To succeed, however, you have to exceed customer expectations. You have to create experiences they will remember forever, experiences they will tell their friends and family about. Why shoot for survival?

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