The most important asset of an organisation is its customer. An organisation’s success depends on how many customers it has, how much they buy and how often they buy. Customers that are satisfied will increase in number, buy more and buy more frequently.
Increasingly, manufacturing and service organisations are using customer satisfaction as the measure of quality. The importance of customer satisfaction is not only due to national competition but also due to worldwide competition. This fact is reflected in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards, where customer satisfaction accounts for 30 percent of the total points. Similarly, customer satisfaction standards are woven throughout ISO 9000:2000. Customer satisfaction is one of the major purposes of a quality management system.Total Quality Management (TQM) implies an organisational obsession with meeting or exceeding customer expectations so that customers are delighted. Understanding the customer’s needs and expectations are essential to winning new business and keeping existing business. An organisation should give its customers a quality product or service that meets their needs at a reasonable price, which includes on-time delivery and outstanding service. To attain this level, the organisation needs to continually examine their quality system to see if it is responsive to ever-changing customer requirements and expectations.
The most successful TQM programs begin by defining quality from the customer’s perspective. Quality means meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations. Dr Deming added that quality also means anticipating the future needs of the customer. Customer satisfaction, not increasing profits, should be the primary goal of the organisation. It is the most important consideration because satisfied customers will lead to increased profits.
The customer as satisfying perceives that part of the square that lies within the circle and the part of the square outside the circle is perceived as unnecessary. It is important that the organisation listens to the “voice of the customer” and ensures that its marketing, design, production and distribution processes truly meet the expectations of the customer.
Customer satisfaction seems simple enough and yet it is far from simple. Customer satisfaction is not an objective statistic but more of a feeling or attitude. Although certain statistical patterns can be developed to represent customer satisfaction, it is best to remember that people’s opinions and attitudes are subjective by nature. Because customer satisfaction is subjective, it is hard to measure. There are so many facets to a customer’s experience with a product or service that need to be measured individually to get an accurate total picture of customer satisfaction. Whether or not a customer is satisfied cannot be classed as a yes or no answer. Errors can occur when customer satisfaction is simplified too much. The Teboul model, for instance, describes customer satisfaction as the degree to which the customer’s experience of a service or product matches her expectations. Using this model, a customer’s satisfaction level would be the same if the experience were mediocre in the context of low expectations, or if the experience were superior in the context or high expectations. Customer satisfaction’s focus is creating superior experiences, not mediocre experiences.