How can a small business better leverage customer satisfaction for competitive advantage?
“If you are not completely satisfied, please bring it back.” Those words appeared above every door at Woodward’s, the department store where I worked to pay for college.
In the current Web-based, price sensitive, highly competitive, difficult economic businessworld more and more businesses are finally seeing the value in creating repeat customers.
We always knew that having happy, loyal customers that might send us their friends and family was good for business, but most companies had little or no focus on this concept. For decades some of the best American examples lived off this principle, grew and continue to do so, while many others focused on growing their business through advertising and looking at the financial bottom line.
Some of the winners are Disney, Nordstrom, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Southwest Airlines.
Yes, Southwest Airlines is a leader in the customer satisfaction war to win over more customers.
Sure, they offered some of the lowest airfares around but they flew to a limited number of destinations, lined you up like cattle, cracked jokes, and dressed in polo shirts, khakis and sometimes shorts. Nevertheless, when they did it they exceeded your expectations. Southwest Airlines left you wanting to come back and wanting to share your experience with friends.
As they grew, I traveled internationally on American Airlines, which boasted about the giant savings created by taking olives out of martinis (for first-class customers), reducing the number of flight attendants and even taking away the customer comment cards in an effort to save money.
We all know American eventually filed Chapter 11 while that economical airline in the Southwest paid off its debt and continued to grow.
Customer satisfaction surveys alone are not the cure to financial woes, but a culture focused on taking care of the customer certainly is.
Although my firm provides services conducting and analyzing customer satisfaction surveys, we also like to remind people that some of the most customer-focused companies like Disney have never sent me a survey to ask me about my experience and they are world famous for how they care for their guests.
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