Perhaps the simplest way to consider the connection between customer satisfaction and service quality is to think of it in terms of how one affects the other. Generally, a high service quality results in a high customer satisfaction, and vice versa. Still, there are variables to this equation, such as the different reference standards each individual customer has and how those references affect their perceptions of service quality. Businesses often collect customer satisfaction data to determine how their service quality ranks with their customers. Effective customer satisfaction strategies, after all, can lead to customer loyalty and increased business.
Some experts believe the connection between customer satisfaction and service quality lies in the service quality itself. In other words, providing a high service quality results in a high customer satisfaction. Likewise, providing a low service quality results in a low customer satisfaction.
Certain variables can affect the relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality. Perhaps the variable with the biggest impact is the customers’ perception of service quality. Different people have different reference standards. What one customer might consider an instance of high service quality, another customer might see as an instance of low service quality. Therefore, a business might provide what it believes is high service quality only to find its customers aren’t satisfied.
Given such variables in the connection between customer satisfaction and service quality, many companies gather information for analyzing customer satisfaction. Such data can help the companies take steps for increasing customer satisfaction. Companies gather satisfaction data in a number of ways. These might include methods from simple one-time questionnaires to lengthier surveys given to the same customers at different points in time. Once the company gathers the data, it will analyze it and begin to make any necessary changes or adjustments to its service quality.
Despite the varying reference standards and perceptions of quality, there is one factor that remains unchanging in the relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality. That factor is the reality that the level of customer satisfaction can predict customer loyalty. Customers determine their future intentions with a business based in part on the level of customer satisfaction they experience. If a customer experiences what he perceives as low service quality, it’s feasible to assume he also will experience low satisfaction and perhaps not do business with that company in the future. Similarly, a customer who experiences the kind of service quality he recognizes as high most likely will do business with the company again, and perhaps even become a loyal customer.