Strategy

Satisfaction isn’t sufficient: Why businesses should focus on customer appreciation

Darrell Hardidge /

We live in a dynamic and complicated world where consumers have more choice at their fingertips than ever before and the ability to stand out from the competition is a constantly moving target.

Smart businesses are becoming very aware of the need to optimise their customer service and customer experience (CX). Those who have unshakable customer loyalty can withstand unexpected and inevitable business hurdles.

For most, delivering standard customer satisfaction is the way to maintain loyalty. However, the market has changed, and a new measurement of expectation is emerging.

Satisfaction as a measurement is assessing the ability to deliver what customers are paying for and what they expect. Satisfaction is just the starting line in the race of customer loyalty.

Being remarkable

If you’re not remarkable you’re not memorable, and if you’re not remembered you have to spend money getting customers to return. The most expensive part of customer acquisition is the first sale, every time a customer comes back their acquisition cost gets cheaper. It’s knowing how to cause repeat business that will optimise margins.

If you think about the word ‘appreciation’ and the people you appreciate, there is a heart connection and also a greater level of emotional connection. In business, this is the new strategy to optimise customer loyalty. You have to discover why your market appreciates you.

Satisfaction is measured by stock availability, delivery, price, convenience, et cetera. Appreciation is measured by friendliness, helpfulness, understanding needs, trust and communication.

It’s easier for a competitor to match with satisfaction than it ever will be with appreciation.

Satisfaction is often a process-driven metric, Appreciation is a culture-driven metric.

We are loyal to people because of how they make us feel — whether that be safe, supported, trusted, helpful or friendly — and business is exactly the same.

Measuring appreciation

Your culture and team training sessions need to be focused on achieving customer appreciation, and you must understand what defines your own standard of appreciation. Appreciation is individual to every business — don’t ever settle for generic drivers of customer appreciation. Appreciation will define the identity of your business from an independent market perspective and your customer base.

Customer appreciation delivers the highest KPI’s possible in business. It clearly defines repeat business, referrals, wallet share, value for money and massively reduces the risk of drops in customer revenue.

Net Promoter Score is a tool utilised to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships, and the data from over 500,000 phone interviews using the tool is compelling:

  • Appreciation offers a 91% assurance on repeat business whereas Satisfaction offers only 48%;
  • Appreciation has a four-to-one ratio on referrals whereas satisfaction has only a one-to-one ratio;
  • Appreciation on value for money is all about experience whereas satisfaction on value for money is all about price; and
  • Appreciation on wallet share is exclusive supply whereas satisfaction is about price.

A hidden benefit

The hidden benefit of achieving customer appreciation is the positive impact it has on the team dynamics. When customers appreciate you, they treat you like a valued friend, they care about you, they go out of their way to support you, in many ways they need you to be there for them and therefore ensure your success.

The secret weapon behind achieving customer appreciation is a distinction that’s often missing in a business. You either have it or you don’t. It can’t be taught, yet all leading businesses have it.

The distinction is your drive and desire to enhance yourself and your business in every respect to operate at an optimal level to be number one.

The path to market dominance is never made by those who accept the status quo or who are content with ‘satisfied’. Only those with drive and desire to be the best can attempt to achieve the standard of appreciation.

The road to success is often paved with great inconvenience. There is no luck or the economy to credit for leading businesses being where they are. It is carefully engineered processes covering all parts of the operation that are geared towards achieving client appreciation. It’s a predictable pattern that, when followed, will produce profound results in a company’s bottom line.

The size or form of your business doesn’t matter — single location, franchise, dealership, multiple sites, large sales team or small. Customer appreciation is highly relevant to every company.

Different isn’t always better but better is always different — and customer appreciation defines both with clarity.

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Darrell Hardidge

Darrell is chief executive officer and a customer experience strategy expert at Saguity, a customer research company that works with large and small businesses. Darrell is also the author of The Client revolution and The 10 Commandments of Client Appreciation.

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