The Disadvantages of “Customer Satisfaction” In Business

“To perform consistently and deliver value-added services to our customers with the highest level of quality. In the process meet or exceed customer expectations.” — Mission Statement of a company.

“Our mission is to continually develop our service to meet and exceed customer expectations” — Another company’s mission statement.

“Delivering Customer Satisfaction is about providing timely, responsive service with integrity, simplicity and a passion for excellence while meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations” — Vision statement of one more company.

Many firms have “Customer Satisfaction — Meeting customer’s expectations as a goal” in their mission statements. Thousands of books were written to guide us to meet customer’s expectations.

Organisations have surveys to know the satisfied customers and they use that as an indicator to value their internal resources and future sales.

Today, Ford’s customer service representative called me for feedback on Ford Service — They had series of questions to answer over the phone — Do they understand the context where a person would be? Do they understand how a person would answer over the phone or over a face to face meeting? Do they understand how a person would behave under cognitive load? Those questions are a heavy cognitive load and as a normal person, we all would like to avoid those loads. If I rate poorly, they would take action against service centre representatives — But there is a problem with their process. I cannot blame their service representatives or even the dealer there. The problem was with the ford’s central process. I gave all questions 10 ratings. Based on my reporting — Can the Ford tell whether I would purchase FORD again or recommend FORD to others? They asked me whether I would recommend FORD to any of my friends. I told them that I would, but at present nobody in my circle requires a car? According to their records — I’m a fully satisfied customer.

Is there any problem if we have goals to meet Customer Satisfaction?

Customer Satisfaction does not guarantee “Re-Purchase” — It is a poor indicator.

Research shows that 75% of customers who switched brands were satisfied or fully satisfied with the brand they left. Brands lose 20%of their customers every year. Retention of customers is becoming critical considering the huge acquisition cost in adding new customers.

I was buying a particular brand(Assume Brand X) of jeans for a couple of years from “Lifestyle” store. One day Lifestyle store introduced another new brand(Brand ‘Y’) and kept those stocks next to Brand ‘X’ stocks. I saw the price of new Brand ‘Y’ jeans double that of Brand ‘X’. For next 4–6 months, the price difference remained same. One day, the Brand ‘Y’ announced discounts of 50% and the price was slightly higher than Brand ‘X’ after discount. I purchased a couple of jeans immediately. I was fully satisfied with my earlier Brand ‘X’ — But still, I shifted the loyalty.

I was using Ola Cabs for a couple of years — I thought I was fine with the service — No major complaints. The experience was good compared to ‘Fast Track’ cab services which I had used earlier. Last few months, some of my friends have been talking positively about UBER — Also, the prices are lower than OLA — Ok, I’ll try then — Last 4 months, I have not opened OLA and using only UBER.

SHELL petrol pump stations — Their service is good — Very reliable service — friendly people — Best compared to all other petrol pump stations. On the way to office from home, I go and fill the diesel. One problem I faced — To reach the Shell, I need to avoid a flyover and go into the side lane. (This shell is located in the Side lane of the flyover). After filling, I get stuck in traffic for some time. After few trips, I located another petrol pump(Not Shell) and stopped going to SHELL, though they provide good service.

Satisfied customers will keep using your product/service, till another firm comes along. I was satisfied with Fast Track Cab service, till Ola came. I was happy with OLA till UBER came along.

A product or service satisfies a customer if it does what a customer expects it to do. You can ask — Customers will shift brand loyalty if we just meet his needs. We need to exceed his expectations — We need to delight him. Oh! Thanks for the valuable advice!

Delight — Tough to measure, it is very subjective — hard to maintain and communicate to employees. How will you train your employees to delight the customers? Tough Choice.

Companies trying to exceed customer’s expectations are getting into a vicious self-destroying tornado. Do you know once you exceed expectations of a customer, he would adjust his expectation accordingly the next time? Yes, companies have to keep running to meet the expectations of the customers.

We would be happy and delighted for One day Delivery of Amazon’s services for the first couple of times — Later, Amazon’s one-day delivery on time would become a basic expectation — How a brand would exceed the expectations here?

When I used OLA the first time, I was delighted to track the car, know the status, find out the details of the driver, driver’s ratings, taxi reaching on time. Over a period, those have become my basic expectations — it was merely satisfying my expectations, not delighting or exceeding my expectations.

Can you survive if you focus on exceeding customer’s expectations every time?

Were you satisfied with Microsoft products? They might be better off these days, but they were prickly troublesome. They crash very often including their applications like word, excel and powerpoint. They had so many security loopholes, which were exploited. Microsoft products were defective. But they were a huge success.

How did they succeed? Though I had shifted to Mac OS four years back, I still use MS word, MS excel and MS ppt in Mac — I got used to the product — Habituated. Yes, Microsoft has built a habit. Even in MAC, the word documents are slow and crashes once in a while, but then I work around and use them.

QWERTY Keyboard design has been in use in all electronic devices — It was one of the Non-User-Friendly design — The layout was designed to avoid jamming of those metal arms — The commonly used adjacent letters were kept apart intentionally — A pure mechanical engineering design, than user-centric design. Better keyboards have been designed along the way to replace QWERTY. A notable layout is ergonomically efficient Dvorak Simplified Keyboard by Dr.Dvorak, designed with “Humans” in mind and based on scientific principles(Time and Motion Study). The reason for Dvorak Keyboard’s failure is the inability to break the strong habit of QWERTY keyboard usage over the years. People can type without seeing the keyboard. They got used to this layout. None of the keyboard designs could break this habit.


Instead of focusing on “Customer Satisfaction”, focus on “Customer Habituation”. Try to build habits. Habit forming products, services will help in building longer, healthy customer relationships and provide longer customer lifetime value.

References — Hooked by Nir Eyal, Habit by Neale Martin, Emotional Design by Don Norman, Design for behaviour change by Stephen Wendel

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at or

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store