Earlier this summer I was visiting a prospect in the restaurant business. We were talking about customer satisfaction – how to measure it, why to measure it – and she shared a great story.
She told me about one of their locations (they have over 200 nationwide) that had the highest satisfaction scores of any of their restaurants… right up until they pulled the plug on the store. Turns out it was also one of their most unprofitable locations.
Her story reminded me of the TV show Cheers. Remember Cliff and Norm? Great customers, right? Showed up every day for a few beers. Wouldn’t think about going elsewhere. By any traditional measure of customer satisfaction or loyalty, I’m sure they would top the charts.
On the flip side, can you run a bar full of Cliffs and Norms? Don’t count on it. They rarely paid their tabs. Their banter probably drove off countless customers. They certainly weren’t buying the high-margin stuff, and each of them could nurse a beer for an hour or more. But they sure were loyal!
Does this mean customer research is ineffective? Of course not. It means that sometimes, customer research needs to take a backseat to the big picture.
Day after day, we hear about how important it is to ensure customer satisfaction, promote loyalty, build relationships, and engage customers. But there’s a little-spoken caveat to that: Make sure you are focusing on the right customers!
A good research initiative does more than just tell you if your customers are happy. It helps you understand which customers are most desirable for your business, and why. It tells you how those customers feel about you. It tells you what to do to make those customers happier. And it tells you what messages are going to resonate with those customers.
So before you worry too much about customer satisfaction, make sure you’re talking to the customers you want to keep, rather than the ones who are hurting your business. After all, the only thing worse than a disloyal friend is a loyal enemy.