Book Review December/January 2004
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
Jeffrey Gitomer knows customer service. After all, for the past 10 years, he has averaged more than 100 presentations a year—at seminars, annual sales meetings and training programs—on selling and customer service. Who better, then, to write Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless. In this book, Gitomer, already a best-selling author, uses his vast experience and knowledge to show why customer loyalty is essential and how to acquire it.
Gitomer’s main premise is that customer satisfaction is not enough. In fact, he posits that customer satisfaction is at the very bottom of the totem pole when it comes to ensuring that a customer has a positive experience. Gitomer believes that satisfaction leaves customers feeling “OK” about their experience with a company and makes for “wishy-washy” customers. The customers didn’t have a bad experience, but it wasn’t great. They may return, but they are just as likely to go to a competitor if that is more convenient.
It is customer loyalty that is of paramount importance. A loyal customer, Gitomer believes, is one who has a great experience with a company. There are no neutral feelings here. The customer is happy and will let everyone know it. Not only will the loyal customer return to do more business with you, he will also refer you to anyone who needs the services you offer.
So why aren’t more customers loyal? Gitomer contends that companies today focus on doing the bare minimum, and so they shoot for satisfaction. They train employees to take care of a problem, but not necessarily to make the customer happy. Gitomer also argues that too many employees feel lost in the shuffle at big companies, which leaves them feeling unappreciated and overlooked. This spills over into the way they deal with customers. They care neither about the customer nor the company.
Customers feel cut off when they have to deal with automated answering services and long waits. As companies implement cost-cutting policies, Gitomer suggests they remember that without the customer, there is no income. Customers generate revenue for the company, so it is imperative that they come first.
Gitomer places great store in “principle” over “policy” in the effort to win customer loyalty. The idea here is that customers become more agitated or even irate when they are told “no,” or that something cannot be done because it is not company policy. To the customer who has waded through the automated answering service, such a response gives the impression that even the live representative is using a script. Gitomer feels that a little humanity goes a long way. Even if company policy really does dictate that something cannot be done, take the time to make the customer feel that you are trying to resolve their problem. Empathize with the customers so that they feel you care about them personally.
A loyal customer can translate into extra dollars for a company. Loyalty will cause a customer to refer friends and co-workers. Companies would do well to keep this in mind when training representatives. A customer service representative should be courteous and friendly. The customer should be treated the same way the representative wants to be treated when he is the consumer. Above all, Gitomer wants companies to remember that there is no business without customers and, without loyalty, a customer will not hesitate to take their business to a competitor.
While Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless is an absorbing read, the layout is distracting, with lots of headings and sidebars set in various type sizes. Still, Gitomer’s message comes across strongly, helped a great deal by his use of humorous personal experiences that stress the importance of loyalty. There are also numerous quizzes and self-evaluation tests designed to help companies more adequately and efficiently deal with customers.
Gitomer has certainly made his case as to why companies would do well to concentrate on customer loyalty instead of settling for customer satisfaction. The advice he offers makes sense and is backed by his years of experience. Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless would be an effective weapon in any company’s fight for market dominance. As Gitomer says, “When you are done reading the book you’ll hope that your competition never buys this book or reads it.”