Customer Satisfaction properly defines an organization’s skills in satisfying customers with its own products or services. Thanks to this tool, an organization can learn in a quantitative way their ability to meet the needs of the customer. At operational level, the term is often used to indicate the method by which the extent of such satisfaction can be obtained. Recently, companies are giving increasing importance to this aspect, which proved to be a useful tool to efficiently allocate the company's resources because the functional needs of the customers.
The attention to the customer and his satisfaction does not often mean short-term increase of income, but, due to the loyalty in time of the customer, the potential benefits become relevant in the company’s balance sheet. Most significant economic results can be quantified as:
• Increase of the market share, due to the acquisition of new customers
• Important quantities of the product sold to a single customer, or increase in the depth of the market
• Reduction of operational costs due to loyal customers
• Low costs for the acquisition of new customers, due to the positive mouth-to-mouth spreading.
In order to understand what Customer Satisfaction means, it is important to clarify the meaning of its key terms: customer and need satisfaction.
The customercan be seen as an external customer, if we refer to the one who purchases a product or a service on the market, but also as an organization’s internal customer, if we refer to the various functions, offices, departments, which have as suppliers other parts of the organization at the upstream of the production chain.
Need satisfactiongoes from the implicit need that the customer does not express as it goes without saying, to the expressed need, easier to know (and from this point of view, it is fundamental in the customer’s choice regarding the supplier), and to the hidden needs, unknown by the customer itself and very important in the loyalty process.
The approaches to Customer Satisfaction that an organization can adopt go from listening to the customer, with predefined listening tools or by gathering casual information, to observing the customer, due to the contribution of the front office, but also with methodologies such as mystery shopper, analysis of the internal data, already available for organizations.