mercredi 19 mars 2014

The High Price of Customer Satisfaction

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Magazine: Spring 2014Research Feature
March 18, 2014

Timothy Keiningham, Sunil Gupta, Lerzan Aksoy and Alexander Buoye
Managers often assume that improving customer satisfaction and financial performance go hand in hand. The reality, however, is much more complex.

“Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.” That business promise has been made to consumers since 1875, when Montgomery Ward used it to differentiate his mail-order catalog from other retailers. Commitment to customer satisfaction is now a vow many businesses make. It is common to find mission statements and marketing plans that specifically address customer satisfaction; compensation systems that incorporate satisfaction metrics into their bonus criteria; and advertisements that trumpet customer satisfaction awards.
Customer satisfaction has become the most widely used metric in companies’ efforts to measure and manage customer loyalty.1 The assumption is simple and intuitive: Highly satisfied customers are good for business.
However, the reality has not proven nearly so simple. In fact, we have found that if you look across industries at the correlation between companies’ customer-satisfaction levels for a given year and the corresponding stock performance of these companies for that same year, on average, satisfaction explains only 1% of the variation in a company’s market return.
Another recent examination of the relationship between satisfaction and stock performance by Bloomberg Businessweek reported even worse results than our own. In a 2013 article entitled “Proof That It Pays to Be America’s Most-Hated Companies,” the magazine reported that “customer-service scores have no relevance to stock market returns … the most-hated companies perform better than their beloved peers … Your contempt really, truly doesn’t matter … If anything, it might hurt company profits to spend money making customers happy.”2 These findings were so unexpected that comedian Stephen Colbert offered American corporations his faux help to “get those customer satisfaction ratings right in the toilet.”3
Admittedly, the above examples represent overly simplistic examinations of the relationship between satisfaction and stock performance. You would expect customer satisfaction to impact performance over time, so simply looking at satisfaction and stock performance levels for the same year is not going to accurately capture the complete relationship.

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