Why differentiate? Customer Loyalty vs Customer Satisfaction

A little bit ago, I wrote on Micro vs Macro and the customer experience. In there, I alluded to separating the two typical terms of customer experience measurement.

Why should we differentiate between loyalty and satisfaction? I’ve been asked this a lot in the past while and, really, it’s a good question. We’ve been targeting Customer Satisfaction for years. What’s wrong with this measurement?  At its root, there probably isn’t anything wrong with it and if it’s the measure that works for you and your business, then I would suggest continuing down that path.  That having been said, maybe it’s time to broaden your view and elevate your expectations.

Here’s some relevant definitions for this discussion:

What is a Customer: one that purchases a commodity or service (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/customer)

What is Satisfaction: a result that deals with a problem or complaint in an acceptable way (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/satisfaction)

What is Loyalty: the quality or state of being loyal (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loyalty) …. Don’t you hate it when definitions seem a bit circular…

What is Loyal: having or showing complete and constant support for someone or something (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loyal)

Now that we have that out of the way, which seems more appealing to you? A one time result that deals with a problem or complaint in an “acceptable way” or a customer that shows complete and constant support? I know which one I’d prefer to have as someone doing business with my company.

The only way to do this, however, is to really understand the lifecycle of the customer and the entire process.  It’s not always possible to satisfy someone 100% of the time (at least not while also staying in business), but it is possible to build a person’s loyalty by treating them right, providing them stellar service, great sales, and excellent interactions throughout the start to finish of their partnership with you as a company.