February 21, 2017

Customer-First Marketing Chart: Why customers are satisfied (and unsatisfied) with companies


Customer satisfaction is very valuable. According to MarketingSherpa research, 66% of satisfied customers are very likely to continue purchasing products and services from a company, while only 8% of unsatisfied customers said the same.

Which begs the question — why are customers satisfied with companies? Unsatisfied? Read on to see what we discovered when we asked 2,400 customers those questions.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

In a previous MarketingSherpa Chart article, we shared data about how marketing made customers satisfied and unsatisfied. But, we also wanted to take a broader view as well and learn what overall company behaviors affected customer satisfaction.

Here’s how we got that data. In October 2016, we split 2,400 consumers into two groups. We asked 1,200 of them about a specific company they were satisfied with, and then we asked…

Thinking about your overall experience, what has made you satisfied with [company]? Select all that apply.

For the other 1,200 consumers, we asked about a specific company they were unsatisfied with, and then we asked…

Thinking about your overall experience, what has made you unsatisfied with [company]? Select all that apply.

To see 28 charts from the study, download the free report.

While customers have many reasons to be satisfied, it takes fewer things to make them unsatisfied

Satisfied customers chose five reasons, on average, for why they were satisfied with their selected company. However, unsatisfied customers only chose three reasons each on average.

This could indicate that the bar is much higher to satisfy a customer. It could mean that it doesn’t take nearly as much to alienate a customer. Or, it could mean that once customers are satisfied, they take a much more gracious view of a company.

Why customers are satisfied

The top reasons customers were satisfied centered around convenience, quality, value and service. The overall top reason, chosen by 57% of respondents, was: “Doing business with [company name] is convenient.”

Reliability and quality were also popular responses among satisfied customers, with “The products/services meet the quality standards I expect” and “Its products/services are reliable” both receiving 56% of responses.

Value (56% of respondents said, “The prices of its products/services are reasonable”) and service (53% of consumers responded, “Its customer service is great”) round out the top five.

Some of the write-in responses also indicated a customer desire to understand more than just the business practices of the company, but how the business itself is run. For example, “It is run by a family, not a corporation” and “They are local and very friendly.”

Why customers are unsatisfied

Service was the top factor for unsatisfied customers, whether explicitly (44% of consumers responded, “Its customer service is not great”) or implicitly (35% of unsatisfied consumers said, “I don’t have consistent good experiences,” and 30% said, “If there are issues, the company doesn’t try to resolve it to my satisfaction.”)

As one respondent advised, “Customer service needs to be top priority. The ability to trust in a company is a rare occurrence in this day and age.”

Here are a few responses from consumers who selected “other,” in their own words:

  • I boycott them now, since the security breach
  • Environmental issues
  • It feels like they've lied to their customers and hidden fraudulent activity
  • [Department store chain name removed] refused to honor a warranty for a $3,000 lawn tractor
  • Will sell you a guarantee but doesn't come through on their promises
  • Restocking fee
  • They lied about emissions
  • Their arrogant attitude when there is a problem. When you talk to someone, their inadequate solution is always “I can’t do under company policy.” If you go higher and waste enough time you can resolve the problem, but the company rather than being committed to solving problems, has policies to block this outcome

Why marketers should care

The reason I list the above statements from customers is specifically because these are not areas that would typically fall under a marketing department’s scope of responsibility.

However, because all of these elements cause customers to be unsatisfied, they will impact the performance of your marketing.

But because each of them begins with understanding a customer concern (whether that’s an environmental issue or a restocking fee), marketers have the internal power to influence changes that will improve customer satisfaction (and, ultimately, brand perception and marketing results).

After all, marketing begins with customer understanding.

And if marketers own the brand, they must be able to influence customer touchpoints.

This isn’t only true for unsatisfied customers. Take a look at the top choice for why customers are satisfied with a company — convenience. Or really, the perception of convenience.

This also begins with an empathetic understanding of the customer. For example, your bank could have more branches than any other bank in the nation, but if they don’t have a branch by my home and work, it’s not convenient.

You could answer customer questions on a telephone hotline, online chat, in person at a store and on Facebook. But if I’d prefer to communicate through email and you don’t make that option easy and clear, I don’t perceive it as convenient to me.

So take a look at the above data to see what pleases and alienates customers. And then work within your organization to ensure your company is delivering. Because marketing is not just about technology, data and media. Effective marketing is pleasing the customer at every touchpoint.

Or as one consumer respondent put it, “Marketing departments may 'lure' a customer in, but if there is not good follow-up by the staff who must implement the product, then all the good marketing in the world is worthless. Poor customer service is a business killer every time.”

Related resources

Learn how to discover what your customers really want in the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program from the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa)

Why You Should Consider Customer Service to be 1-to-1 Marketing

The Marketing-Sales Funnel: Gravity is not your friend

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