Customer Satisfaction Isn’t a Nastysickle

July 30, 2009

It’s easy to get confused about what customer satisfaction is and isn’t.

We needed antibiotics for our five-year-old daughter. Like most kids, she’s picky about flavor (hates grape, loves cherry). We explained this to the pharmacist at the major pharmacy chain.

Lacking cherry, they added a watermelon flavor on top of the grape (creating a flavor that, in our household, we have dubbed “nastysickle”) without asking us. They resisted giving back the prescription to have it filled elsewhere. (After all, then they’d have a bottle of nastysickle on their hands). We pushed, got it back and filled it with cherry at People’s Pharmacy.

If we’d walked out unhappily with the nastysickle we would have been considered satisfied. As we gave our daughter nastysickle medicine twice a day. Not the worst thing in the world, but far from a satisfied customer. They didn’t want to satisfy us. They just wanted us to go away and not show up as a return or complaint.

A satisfied customer isn’t someone you can convince to grudgingly take bad-tasting medicine. A satisfied customer isn’t someone who isn’t quite unhappy enough to demand their money back. It’s fine to measure returns and walkouts, but don’t call those customer satisfaction metrics. These days marketers fear that an unhappy customer will get over 4MM YouTube views. Some are so paranoid that they sue customers who tweet their dissatisfaction to 17 followers. I think we should worry more about unhappy customers who quietly take their nastysickle and leave, never to return.

A satisfied customer is glad they spent their money with you and recommends that others do the same.

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2 Responses to “Customer Satisfaction Isn’t a Nastysickle”

  1. Bill Fitzpatrick Says:

    Yet another gem – nastysickle. I think unfortunately today customer service and customer satisfaction are left so much to the mercy of the individual behind the counter that your odds of recieving satisfactory service are directly proportional to the quality of day said person may be having. :^(

  2. rsomers Says:

    I can’t take the credit for the word ‘nastysickle’ – my 5yo coined it. She’ll be a great blogger as soon as she learns to write.

    I think you’re right on target. Some companies (Zappos and Southwest come to mind) have employees who seem to have more good days than employees at other companies. If you view customer service as a competitive advantage, suddenly you start to manage your business to give your employees more good days than bad. I’m sure a lot of that is hiring for attitude (Zappos will pay people to quit during their probationary period, Southwest has intensive screening for cultural fit).

    On a human level, even the best employee at the best company has a lousy day sometimes. So even when you’re getting lousy service and choose to take your business elsewhere, I believe it’s important to treat that person with respect as you refuse to take the nastysickle they offer.


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