Two aspects of customer satisfaction affect every business: satisfaction with the process output and satisfaction with the service surrounding it. In the service industry, businesses understand that providing quality service is a key to customer satisfaction. At the same time, though, they must have concern about the service product. For example, considering receiving exceptional customer service from an associate at a retail outlet, only to find the selection of merchandise too limited. The result is that you may choose a different retail outlet on your next shopping trip.
Conversely, what happens when you receive very bad customer service at a different retail outlet, which happens to have a very wide selection of merchandise? Even though you can find what you need, you will probably decide not to do business with them in the future.
Many product manufacturers miss this connection as well. An edge in technology or functionality gives a competitive advantage in the market place. Although this physical advantage is important, if the quality of service provided to the customer is poor, it will likely negate the advantage. For example, you would probably not rush to purchase a technically superior automobile from a supplier known for poor service after the sale.
To summarize, in order to improve customer satisfaction in a meaningful way, the business needs to distinguish between the process that provides the service and the process that provides the product. Without this distinction, it is easy to blame defects on the wrong process, or to fail to recognize that the other process exists.
Specifically, the service industry must recognize that their customers see a product component associated with the service they receive, while the manufacturing industry must recognize that their customers see a service component associated with the product they receive.