A Literature Review on Customer Satisfaction

A Literature Review on Customer Satisfaction Essay Sample

Both public and private sectors have given much attention to the concept customer satisfaction in the past couple of decades. Naturally, administrators have requested their staff to do customer satisfaction studies for their own organizations. An analyst or researcher must operationalize the concept of customer satisfaction in order to measure it. More importantly, in order to have validity for any measurements, the analyst needs to assume some model of the subject matter. The analyst must use very explicit conceptualizations of the subject matter (in other words, models) if she/he expects to do research and analysis that has relevance for organizational decisions. This paper is divided into several sections. First, a brief review of main concepts of customer satisfaction is provided. Next, we try to provide the analyst an overview of models of customer satisfaction. Finally, the article concludes with main research findings. Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction has been a popular topic in marketing practice and academic research since Cardozo’s (1965) initial study of customer effort, expectations and satisfaction. Despite many attempts to measure and explain customer satisfaction, there still does not appear to be a consensus regarding its definition (Giese and Cote, 2000). Customer satisfaction is typically defined as a post consumption evaluative judgement concerning a specific product or service (Gundersen, Heide and Olsson, 1996). It is the result of an evaluative process that contrasts prepurchase expectations with perceptions of performance during and after the consumption experience (Oliver, 1980). The most widely accepted conceptualization of the customer satisfaction concept is the expectancy disconfirmation theory (McQuitty, Finn and Wiley, 2000).

The theory was developed by Oliver, who proposed that satisfaction level is a result of the difference between expected and perceived performance. Satisfaction (positive disconfirmation) occures when product or service is better than expected. On the other hand, a performance worse than expected results is dissatisfaction (negative disconfirmation). Studies show that customer satisfaction may have direct and indirect impact on business results. Luo and Homburg (2007) concluded that customer satisfaction positively affects business profitability. The majority of studies have investigated the relationship with customer behaviour patterns (Dimitriades, 2006; Olorunniwo et al., 2006; Chi and Qu, 2008; Faullant et al., 2008). According to these findings, customer satisfaction increases customer loyalty, influences repurchase intentions and leads to positive word-of-mouth.

Given the vital role of customer satisfaction, it is not surprising that a variety of research has been devoted to investigating the determinants of satisfaction. Satisfaction can be determined by subjective (e. g. customer needs, emotions) and objective factors (e. g. product and service features). Applying to the hospitality industry, theimportant regarding customer satisfaction. Atkinson (1988) found out that cleanliness, security, value for money and courtesy of staff determine customer satisfaction. Knutson (1988) revealed that room cleanliness and comfort, convenience of location, prompt service, safety and security, and friendliness of employees are important. Barsky and Labagh (1992) stated that employee attitude, location and rooms are likely to influence travellers’ satisfaction. A study conducted by Akan (1995) showed that the main determinants of hotel guest satisfaction are the behaviour of employees, cleanliness and timeliness. Choi and Chu (2001) concluded that staff quality, room qualities and value are the top three hotel factors that determine travellers’ satisfaction .

3 Customer Satisfaction Models

Models of customer satisfaction come from a vast literature from the marketing research discipline. This pool of research includes models that integrate the concept of customer satisfaction in a network of related concepts, such as value, quality, complaining behavior, and loyalty. In this paper, we will label these kinds of models as “macro-models.” Macro-models have special importance for the policy-level implications of an organization’s research in customer satisfaction. Macro-models give the researcher the strategic context of the design and of the results for a study of customer satisfaction. The marketing research literature extensively covers the elements that make up the concept of customer satisfaction, such as disconfirmation of expectations, equity, attribution, affect, and regret. Because these elements explain the composition of the customer satisfaction concept (or “construct”), we will label these kinds of models as “micro-models.” Micro-models enable an analyst to properly operationalize measurements of customer satisfaction, thus helping her/him to achieve construct validity in the eventual satisfaction survey.

3.1 Macro-models

1. Perceived performance often differs from objective or technical performance, especially when a product/service is complex, intangible, and when the consumer is unfamiliar with the product/service.

2. Comparison standards can come from numerous sources that can vary widely by individual, by situation, and by product/service type.

3. Perceived disconfirmation is the evaluation of perceived performance according to one or more comparison standards. Disconfirmation can have a positive effect (generally implying a satisfying result), a negative effect (generally implying a dissatisfying result), or a zero effect.

4. Satisfaction feeling is a state of mind, an attitude. The phrase “mixed feelings” applies here, as a consumer may have different levels of satisfaction for different parts of a product/service experience.

5. Outcomes of satisfaction feelings may involve intent to repurchase, word-of-mouth (the consumer’s communication with her/his network of her/his approval/disapproval for a product/service), and complaints. These outcomes also are moderated by other variables.


Table 1 lists the seven types of models they review in their article, and we will briefly comment on each type.

Table 1 Current Type of Micro-models for Satisfaction

1| Expections Disconfirmation Model|

2| Perceived Performance Model|

3| Norms Models|

4| Multiple Process Models|

5| Attribution Models|

6| Affective Models|

7| Equity Models|

1. The Expectations Disconfirmation Model has been the dominant model in satisfaction research. The model has consumers using pre-consumption expectations in a comparison with post-consumption experiences of a product/service to form an attitude of satisfaction or dissatisfaction toward the product/service. In this model, expectations originate from beliefs about the level of performance that a product/service will provide. This is the predictive meaning of the expectations concept.

2. The Perceived Performance Model deviates from the above model in that expectations play a less significant role in satisfaction formation. The model performs especially well in situations where a product/service performs so positively that the consumer’s expectations get discounted in her/his post-consumption reaction to the product/service.

3. Norms Models resemble the Expectations Disconfirmation Model in that the consumer compares perceived performance with some standard for performance. In this case, however, the standard is not a predictive expectation. Rather than considering what will happen in the consumption experience, the consumer uses what should happen as the comparison standard.

4. Multiple Process Models characterize the satisfaction formation process as multidimensional. That is, consumers use more than one standard of comparison in forming a (dis)confirmation judgment about an experience with a product/service.

5. Attribution Models integrate the concept of perceived causality for a product/service performance into the satisfaction process. Consumers use three factors to determine attribution’s effect in satisfaction. These are locus of causality, stability, and controllability.

6. Affective Models differ from previous models in that it goes beyond rational processes. In these models, emotion, liking, and mood influence (dis)satisfaction feelings following the consumption experience.

7. Equity Models emphasize the consumer’s attitude about fair treatment in the consumption process. Fair treatment can use the concept of the equity ratio (that is, the amount of her/his return for her/his effort made) or the concept of social comparison (that is, the perceived, relative level of product/service performance that other consumers experience).


An analyst who plans to do a customer satisfaction study could benefit from consulting the insightful works as well as the works previously cited. The mountain of information that the analyst can review may consume a huge chunk in time and effort, but the benefits of understanding customer satisfaction models may pay commensurate dividends in useful analyses in the future. At the very least, use of the above material will supply a basic footing in any effort to understand customer satisfaction.