Growing the Trust Relationship

Hart, Christopher W.; Johnson, Michael D.
March 1999
Marketing Management;Spring99, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p8
Practically every company today is geared up to satisfy its customers. "We do whatever it takes to satisfy our customers! " is the refrain. But, does customer satisfaction go far enough? There is, in fact, a wide gap between how most companies think about and measure customer satisfaction and what their most satisfied customers actually feel. Customer loyalty has been put forth as the bridge that spans this gap, capturing long-term relationship elements that provide a more complete picture of customers' feelings. However, loyalty traditionally has been defined in terms of its consequences: repurchase intent, referral intent, share of purchases, and actual repurchase. While these measures are indicators of loyalty, they do not answer the question, "What is customer loyalty and how is it created?" To leapfrog competitors, companies must go beyond customer delight and what benchmarking studies define as world-class standards, raising the bar to a visionary level that the authors define as "total trust," conceptually similar to "total" quality. The performance standard is zero "trust defects."


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