Customer satisfaction

Why customer satisfaction is hard to define

This article is organized as follows: satisfaction is an ambiguous concept; the marketing literature does not offer a uniform definition of the satisfaction concept; satisfaction can be an emotion.

This article presents an argument for not measuring the concept of customer satisfaction as researchers typically measure it: by using a direct rating scale such as the typical 0-10, very dissatisfied to very satisfied scale. (For purposes of discussion, I refer to that scale as the satisfaction scale.) The article’s fundamental premise is that the satisfaction scale is too ambiguous to be used as a good summary measure of a respondent’s overall affective, i.e., emotional, response of varying intensity to a brand.1 This is because consumers who are identical in their beliefs, needs, wants and evaluation of a brand can give widely different answers to the satisfaction scale, based on their interpretation of the term satisfaction.