Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Two-Factor Theory of Customer Satisfaction

I recently re-read an article by Earl Neumann and Donald Jackson, Jr. about a two-factor model of customer satisfaction. While it is not significantly different from models currently being discussed and used, it does present the model using different words that make some sense. For this reason I offer a brief description of this model.

The essence of this model is the use of two factors to describe customer satisfaction. the two factors are hygiene elements and satisfiers. The hygiene elements are those attributes that customers expect to be part of the product or service. The absence of these elements generally result in customer dissatisfaction. (They may be described as dissatisfiers in some models). One key point is that the presence of hygiene elements generally does not contribute to customer satisfaction. One example of a hygiene element would be a clean restroom at the movie theater. Consistently maintaining a clean restroom may not contribute much to customer satisfaction. In general, a company must ensure that the hygiene elements consistently meet customer expectations. These elements are necessary but insufficient to create customer satisfaction. Satisfaction does not become important until the hygiene elements are present at a level that meets customer expectations.

J.M. Juran gave a rank-ordered list of elements based on a study of 2,500 passengers of Quantas Airways. From this list he demonstrated that the hygiene factors would cause the passengers extreme dissatisfaction. He also included the list of those elements that would lead to extreme positive satisfaction. Virtually all of the top elements were hygiene factors. In general, the satisfiers were ranked lower than the hygiene factors. The authors note that satisfaction levels are only achieved when the hygiene factors meet customer expectations and the satisfiers exceed customer expectations.

The conclusion is that while the hygiene elements are a must, the satisfiers are what lead to customer satisfaction. Some of the hygiene factors noted by Juran include: no lost luggage, no damaged luggage, clean toilets, clean and tidy cabin, comfortable cabin temperature and humidity, etc. On the other hand, some of the satisfiers include: comfortable seats, prompt baggage delivery, ample leg room, good quality meals, assistance with connections, quick/friendly airport check in, etc.

The authors present a generic grid of hygiene elements and satisfiers as shown below:
Hygiene elements include: credibility, reliability, accessibility, delivery and accuracy.
The satisfiers include: responsiveness, courtesy, empathy, exceptional quality and personnel who are thoroughly trained and knowledgeable.

The key issue to focus on for this model is understanding the term hygiene and its implications especially in terms of its position as the predecessor of satisfiers. This is a new perspective that I have not seen in other models. In my next blog I will describe their customer satisfaction grid and discuss how they use the grid to examine pre-sale, transaction and post-sale aspects of customer satisfaction.


Kathryn Korostoff said...

I've always referred to it as "table stakes" (stuff you need just to be in the game) vs differentiators.

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Anonymous said...

Nice article..The key in today's world is to focus on satisfiers. I read a similar theory in a course on customer satisfaction i took as part of a free subscription i took from

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