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Putting Customer Satisfaction in its Place: Broader Organizational Research Perspectives Versus Measurement Myopia


  • Doug Grisaffe


Academic and applied interest in customer satisfaction has centered around issues of measurement, modeling and management. While these are worthy topics, research and practice regarding them has been overly myopic. Focusing on the satisfaction of current customers will not be a sufficient basis to accomplish the ultimate goal for which it was designed - shaping strategic management of an organization. What is needed is a much broader set of metrics, coming from a broader set of sources and constituencies (i.e., stakeholders). Groups like prospective customers, lost customers, employees, investors and others need to be considered simultaneously. A broader set of metrics on these diverse groups needs to be captured, monitored, and explored as part of an integrated, interconnected network of causal interrelationships. Customer satisfaction must be put in its place as a necessary but not sufficient area for organizational research and management attention within this broader unified framework. After building a detailed case for that philosophy, some practical implementation methods are suggested. Two brief case study descriptions provide examples of how these ides can be applied in strategic organizational contexts.