Although researchers have concentrated on various measures of customer satisfaction (CS) and the relationship of CS to firm performance, they have done little to determine what constitutes the best practices of firms focusing on CS as a corporate strategy. These authors report the results of their investigation into the best practices of four manufacturing firms with reputations for delivering high levels of customer satisfaction. They found that, although the firms developed a CS strategy for different reasons, each had similar characteristics that enabled them to concentrate on satisfying the customer. While the firms generally outperformed the average firm in their industry in profits and asset utilization after adopting a customer satisfaction strategy, they were not as successful in increasing market share; nor has the market valued them as highly as it has valued others in their industry. Finally, the authors suggest ways companies can improve their customer satisfaction measures and practices.
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6. Companies identified in this article are not firms that were interviewed by the team. They are merely used as examples to support particular points.
7. The definitions of the differentiations between these two constructs are summarized from Anderson (1994), a conversation with Eugene Anderson, and the comments of an anonymous reviewer. Because the firms do not discriminate between these constructs, the term CS in this article refers to both.
8. Fornell (1992).
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12. Since the turn of the century, process specialists have routinely split processes into subsidiary actions, where each subprocess can be performed independently. Theoretically, this led to management efficiencies due to economies of motion, task specialization, and increased control over the workforce. In reality, it led to less control over the outputs of the total process.
13. Hauser et al. (1993).
14. Anderson et al. (1993, 1994).
15. Rust et al. (1994).
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R.M. Kanter, The Change Masters (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983).
The authors wish to thank Arthur Andersen & Co. for financial support in gathering the data. Abbie Griffin also gratefully acknowledges support from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.