Customer Loyalty Meets Satisfaction: Don't Assume Anything

Compiled By Deborah Austin Satisfied customers are loyal customers, right? Not necessarily, suggests analysis from customer value research firm Miller-Williams Inc., San Diego. Miller-Williams examined the relationship between satisfaction and loyalty across six industries: automotive, personal computers, software, e-commerce, media and wireless telecommunications. For personal computers, the company found a clear positive link between satisfaction and loyalty. The relationship was weaker for automotive. As for software, increased satisfaction correlated with decreased loyalty and vice versa. Loyalty is nurtured instead by value drivers, which are attributes that customers expect a company to deliver, says Miller-Williams. These drivers differ for each industry. For example the main value driver for personal computers is customer focus; for automotive, customer trust; and for software, culture and beliefs. So, each industry requires a different competency to build customer loyalty, the company says. Customer value leaders include Dell Computer Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG, Microsoft Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc., says Miller-Williams. The satisfaction/loyalty analysis is a subset of data from Miller-Williams' M-W Value Scoreboard, covering 12,277 customers' responses on company attributes' importance in purchasing decisions.

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