Customer orientation

In the beginning of the 1990s, customer orientation was increasingly identified as an essential competitive factor for companies and public services.

Precondition for customer orientation is the knowledge of the specific expectations of the customer, one’s own performance and the performance of the competitors, as well as the constant monitoring of the respective data. Thus, potential quality gaps can be closed and an ongoing adjustment of the own performance to the changes in the customer’s expectations can be achieved.

A consequent alignment of all strategies, decisions and activities of a company with the customer expectations requires the collection and updating of company-related customer satisfaction data as well as their comparison to respective figures of the direct competitors.

The customer expectations are, amongst others, characterized by experiences of the customer with different industries (e.g. pharmacies are able to provide products which are not in stock within two hours, whereas other trading sectors will need several days or weeks). Therefore, cross-industry surveys like Kundenmonitor® Deutschland are crucial for customer insights. They obtain key figures for exemplary qualities of service also from companies from outside one’s own industry.

Customer satisfaction...

Customer satisfaction is a key benchmark for the material and immaterial qualities of different performance factors and therefore for the achieved overall quality level perceived by a consumer. It is the result of an individual comparison between the expectations and demands of the consumer regarding specific services (target performance) on the one hand and the actually received services as the customer subjectively perceives them (actual performance) on the other hand. The expectations as well as the perception of the obtained services can be influenced by many factors which are to be analysed with appropriate measuring tools.

Delighted and disappointed customers

If the customers’ expectations are higher than the actually perceived quality, it can be assumed that these customers are less satisfied or unsatisfied, they are disappointed. If the perceived service corresponds more or less to what the customers expect, the customers are satisfied.

... or delighted customers?

The more interesting goal of market analysis is the next level of satisfaction: Only if the quality perceived by the customers exceeds their expectations, they will be delighted. Thus, it can be assumed that the company successfully embedded competitive advantages in these convinced customers’ minds. They will show a considerably more active and positive behaviour regarding re-buying, additional buying and recommendation.

For a long-term success, it is therefore essential to exceed the customers’ expectations, to delight them and to turn satisfied customers into convinced customers.
Only the greatest possible customer satisfaction provides the fundament for competitive advantages and permanent customer loyalty as well as a reliable customer base.

Recommended literature

  • Stauss, B./Dornach, F./Coenen, C. (2006): Zufriedenheitsmanagement in Deutschland, München.
  • Dornach, F. (2005): Rigorose Kundenorientierung als kontinuierlicher Prozess, in: Digitale Fachbibliothek: Kundenorientierung – Strategie und Umsetzung, Düsseldorf, S. 1-15.
  • ServiceBarometer (2005): Benchmarking-Report - Kundenmonitor Deutschland 2005, München.
  • Hinterhuber, H. H./Matzler, K. (Hrsg.) (2004): Kundenorientierte Unternehmensführung – Kundenorientierung – Kundenzufriedenheit – Kundenbindung, 4. Aufl., Wiesbaden, S. 219-238.