Satisfaction vs. Loyalty
Customer Satisfaction and Customer Loyalty are often used interchangeably. In fact, there is a significant distinction between the two. Keeping abreast of how happy your customers are with your products or services is imperative. However, being happy with a company or product does not necessarily mean that a customer would purchase from the company again or would not defect to a competitor, based on something like a price differential. Most importantly, a satisfied customer wouldn’t necessarily risk his or her reputation to recommend a product or company.
Customer Satisfaction generally does not predict future behavior such as buying patterns and referrals. And satisfied customers don’t necessarily become loyal customers. It’s merely a measure of how much a customer likes a company or product, at that point in time.
Customer Loyalty is based on a relationship. That usually requires a level of inherent trust and commitment. A loyal customer can ultimately get past a negative experience, process or product and continue to purchase from the company, due to the history of the relationship and the trust that has been developed. These are the most valuable customers to a company.
Don’t confuse the two. Loyalty and trust are earned and should be a priority for every company.