The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

Customer Satisfaction is Not Enough

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Guest post by John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability

quote image with text: 'It will not suffice to have customers that are merely satisfied. An unhappy customer will switch. Unfortunately, a satisfied customer may also switch, on the theory that he could not lose much, and might gain.'

To succeed over the long term organizations must seek not to satisfy customers but to delight customers.

Employees need to understand how customers actually use their product or service. And then they need to use this knowledge to continually improve the value delivered to customers.

No customer asked for electric lights… No customer asked for photography… No customer asked for an automobile… No customer asked for an integrated circuit.

W. Edward Deming, page 7 of The New Economics

Companies that understand what their customers needs and desires are and deliver solutions that customers didn’t even know they wanted will delight customers. And in that process make those delighted customers more loyal over the long term and gain new customers. Doing so also contributes to the Deming Chain Reaction (adding more and more jobs over time).


Image of Deming Chain Reaction - text: Improve Quality —> Costs decrease because of less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays, snags, better use of machine-time and materials —> Productivity Improves —> Capture the market with better quality and lower price —> Stay in Business —> Provide jobs and more jobs

The idea of continually seeking to delight customer through innovation and continually process improvement is powerful and something I think it is easy to forget. We can become complacent with satisfying customers and risk the long term success our organizations. That is one reason I return to this topic over and over again on this blog (as evidenced by the links included in this post).

Related: Creating a Deep Commitment to Delighting CustomersW. Edwards Deming on InnovationProduct and Service Innovation is Driven by Customer Focused OrganizationsCustomer Focus with a Deming Perspective


Categorised as: customer focus, systems thinking


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