Why I don’t encourage
satisfied customers

Karen Lambert
Karen Lambert

Chief Happy


n my opinion “You should never be happy to have a satisfied customer”. Now, that may feel like a strange statement to make but when a customer is simply “satisfied” I believe it can have a negative effect on a business.

Here’s why, and what you can do.

Customer loyalty is the feeling of attachment or affection for a company’s people, products or service.

Generally, it’s accepted that the more competitive the market the more important the level of customer satisfaction. What’s not always appreciated is how important that level of customer satisfaction is.

For a business these are the areas that generally affect customer satisfaction:

  • the basic elements of the product or service that customers expect
  • basic support levels
  • a recovery process should things go wrong (it’s here for me where the real test of a company happens)
  • extraordinary service
  • the overall customer experience (or the feeling that someone has about a brand)
  • Except in a few rare instances, total satisfaction is the key to securing loyalty and generating long term relationships.


It starts with understanding and classifying customers.

The Defectors

These are the customers who are a little (or completely) dissatisfied. If they tell you so, that’s a good starting point, it means they care. Give them attention when things go wrong, listen to them, respond to them, correct their bad experiences. Preventing defectors from leaving can positively influence your customer retention; should you wish to keep these customers of course.

The Hostages

Sadly, these customers feel they are stuck. They may experience the worst but feel they must accept it. Hostages are often difficult and expensive to serve. They complain, require a lot of attention and can devastate company morale. Recognising this type of customer means you can help move them into a different category or move them out.

The Mercenaries

These customers may be completely satisfied; however, they show little loyalty. They chase low prices, buy on impulse and seek change for change’s sake. With these customers it takes as much effort to please them as the loyal customers, but they do not stay long enough for the relationship to be profitable. Knowing who these customers are can help you make strategic marketing decisions. Generally, no matter what you do, they will go elsewhere.

The Satisfied

They may well be satisfied but satisfied customers defect too. For these customers their experience of you is all a bit indifferent, and there’s no real emotional connection. They don’t feel any added value, their experience of your company is neither raved about, nor complained about. It’s all rather luke warm and the whole process can feel very transactional. These customers are unlikely to complain because they don’t feel strongly enough to do so nor do they have a strong enough connection to you to want to help you improve. Warning signs! These customers can be prime to leave or to switch or to be poached. It’s essential therefore to identify them and manage them accordingly.

The Loyals

A customer who is completely satisfied keeps returning. Within this band of customers will be individuals who are so satisfied that they become brand champions, sharing with others their great experiences of your company. They are likely to refer your business to others whenever they can. Nurture them, look after them, and let them know they are valued.

The utopia is to have your customers largely in this final category but the world isn’t perfect and it’s how you manage customer satisfaction that is the real test.

Companies that continually work to understand the relationship between satisfaction and loyalty will be the ones who flourish. That’s why I wouldn’t encourage merely satisfied customers and why I believe marketing strategies should work towards creating loyal, happy customers.

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Why I don’t encourage satisfied customers
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