What Is Satisfaction?
Satisfaction is an overall psychological state that reflects the evaluation of a relationship between the customer/consumer and a company-environment-product-service. Satisfaction involves one of the following three psychological elements: cognitive (thinking/evaluation), affective (emotional/feeling), and behavioral.
Expectations and Customer Satisfaction
Expectations are beliefs (likelihood or probability) that a product/service (containing certain attributes, features or characteristics) will produce certain outcomes (benefits-values) given certain anticipated levels of performance based on previous affective, cognitive, and behavioral experiences. Expectations are often seen as related to satisfaction and can be measured as follows:
- Importance: Value of the product/service fulfilling the expectation.
- Overall Affect-Satisfaction Expectations: Like / Dislike of the product/service.
- Fulfillment of Expectation: The expected level of performance vs. the desired expectations. This is “Predictive Fulfillment” and is a respondent-specific index of the performance level necessary to satisfy.
- Expected Value from Use: Satisfaction is often determined by the frequency of use. If a product/service is not used as often as expected, the result may not be as satisfying as anticipated. For example a motorcycle that sits in the garage, an unused year subscription to the local fitness center/gym, or a little used season pass to a ski resort would produce more dissatisfaction with the decision to purchase than with the actual product/service.
In building a customer satisfaction survey, it is also helpful to consider reasons why pre-purchase expectations or post-purchase satisfaction may not be fulfilled or even measurable.
- Expectations may not reflect unanticipated service attributes.
- Expectations may have been quite vague, creating wide latitudes of acceptability in performance and expected satisfaction.
- Expectation and product performance evaluations may be sensory and not cognitive, as in taste, style or image.
- The product use may attract so little attention as to produce no conscious affect or cognition (evaluation) and result in meaningless satisfaction or dissatisfaction measures.
- There may have been unanticipated benefits or consequences of purchasing or using the product (such as a use or feature not anticipated with purchase).
- The original expectations may have been unrealistically high or low.
- The product purchaser, influencer, and user may have been different individuals, each having different expectations.