Why do we all seek a satisfied customer?

I don’t, says ABC’s managing director, Neil Bradbrook

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That may sound counterintuitive, because we all know that customer satisfaction is important. So important that corporates devote huge teams to it.

But the plain fact is that satisfaction is just not good enough. It does not pass muster to know that your business and processes are working – but not much more. It’s like your car “just” passing its MoT. It’s the minimum.

No, I don’t want my customers to conclude business with me and think: “Well, that was okay.” I want them to be surprised, delighted, blown away by our service. If they dance down the streets, that’s a bonus.

Now you might say that that is just semantics; that it’s just words. But words are important, and the meaning with which you infuse them can make all the difference in the world.

Because, as everyone knows, winning customers is the hardest task in business. It soaks up time, energy and money, and if a customer does not come back because they were just “satisfied”, that time, energy and money will have to be expended all over again to secure the next customer.

Compare and contrast with the customer who gets not just good, but stellar, service – service that makes them want to shout your name from the rooftops. They will tell their friends and business acquaintances. You are effectively recruiting them as an auxiliary business sales force.

Too many businesses – think of insurers, phone companies and utilities – focus on winning market share at the expense of securing and maintaining the loyalty of their existing customer base. No wonder we have a switching culture.

So, instead of your people ringing the bell and punching the air when they sign up a new customer, it has to be impressed on them that the win is just the start of the journey – and that, if the customer continues to have a great experience, you will have them for ever.

How can you maintain this enthusiasm, this refusal to settle for the ordinary when you know you can reach for greatness? Here is my Four Step guide to set you on your way:


“The harder I practise, the luckier I get.” is a well-known sporting aphorism attributed to legendary golfer Gary Player when accused of being lucky. The sporting elite know that success starts with ensuring you do the basics well every time. The same is true in business.

If you are in manufacturing, make products that work and last as long as they need to. If you are an accountant, get the numbers right. If you are a restaurant, ensure your hygiene standards are adhered to and make good food. If you are a bank, keep your customers’ money safe and make it easily accessible when they need it.


Don’t do things to save you money. Do things to make the customer journey slicker. If you make that journey quicker, smoother and better it will achieve both goals.


Tell your customers what’s going on and, if things go wrong, tell them as soon as you know. Keep them in the loop. If the customer has to ask what’s going on, you haven’t communicated enough.


Look after your staff and they will look after the customer. Be open and transparent about how you do business and with whom you do business. Increasingly, young people want to understand, and approve of, your values before doing business with you.

The Chinese say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. These four steps can help you to aspire to be great.