The concept of customer satisfaction has been attracted both academics and practitioners in such a long time with the fact that customers are the primary sources of most firm’s revenue. Erevelles and Leavit (1992) suggested that customer satisfaction has become an important concept for marketing scholars and significant goal to achieve for marketing practitioners. Yi (1990) defined customer satisfaction as an attitude like judgement following a purchase of good or service. His definition means that customer satisfaction is customer’s judgement about the product and service meets or do not meet customer expectation.
Kim, Lee and Yoo (2006) found that customer satisfaction could lead to customer loyalty and provide positive word-of-mouth which will increase new customers. In marketing concept, the fact that encourages customer satisfaction should be the heart of all marketing activities (Machleit & Mantel, 2001). Nevertheless, it is still unclear in marketing literature the differences between perceived service quality and customer satisfaction (Anderson & Fornell 1994). Therefore, Parasuraman et al. (1988) argued that “perceived service quality is a global judgment, or attitude, relating to the superiority of the service, whereas satisfaction is related to a specific transaction”. Oliver (1993) also mentioned satisfaction as specific transaction which means the outcome of the immediate post purchase judgment or affective reaction.
Furthermore, several scholars( i.e Machleit & Mantel, 2001; Westbrook, 1987 ) have highlighted the emotional nature of customer satisfaction. Oliver (1981) defined satisfaction as “a total psychological state when there is an existed discrepancy between the emerging emotion and expectation, and such an expectation is a consumer’s feeling anticipated and accumulated form his or her previous purchases”.
In his definition, he mentioned that satisfaction is the emotional come from product or service experience and also from the disconfirmation of customer’s view about the performance of product or service and his or her expectations of performance. In addition, customer satisfaction has been developed more in economic-based approach. For example Anderson et al. (1994) viewed customer satisfaction as “overall evaluation based on the total purchase and consumption experience with a good or service over time”. There are more studies now that consider the overall evaluation of satisfaction concept which develops overall customer’s experience in business operation.
Product Quality and Customer Satisfaction In most of customer satisfaction theory, product quality is always considered as very important factor that have the huge impacts on customer satisfaction. Product quality can be defined as “superiority or excellence of a product” ( Zeithaml (1991; Dawar 1999) Juran (1989) defined” quality as fitness for use with each product having multiple quality characteristics of two kinds: customer-design product features and freedom from deficiencies.”
On the other hand, Garvin (1987) stated that “quality means pleasing customers, not just protecting them from annoyances”. Garvin also provided a strategic approach contain eight-dimensions of quality for products which include: performance, features, reliability, conformity, durability, serviceability, aesthetics and perceived quality. Automobile industry perhaps is one of the most relevant examples for Garvin theory (See Figure 1).
Moreover, Garvin also developed a practical definition of quality for product (Figure 2); the process flow chart identifies the system of product quality dimensions and provides the definition of product quality from the view of customers. As it can be seen in the flow chart, Garvin emphasised that the dimensions of quality is the most important for customer satisfaction. He also differs from the view of quality process among customers and manufactures; it means customers may never see the quality process from the manufacture’s point of view. In his research, different degree of products should apply to different dimensions; it is not always the same application for them. Therefore, the manufactures should seek the information from their customers to secure the quality dimensions that apply to each product.
Additionally, in term of product quality, Quality function deployment is created to improve customer satisfaction in many industries. Quality function deployment (QFD) concept is an approach to design new product development (NPD) and it was first introduced in Japan in 1966 ( Akao, 1990). Akao defined the concept of customer satisfaction as ”QFD provides specific methods for guaranteeing quality at each stage of the product development process, starting with design. In other words, it is a method for introducing quality right from design stage to satisfy the customer and to transform customer requirements into design objectives and key points that will be required to ensure quality at production stage”.
In addition, there are many definitions of QFD with different view, however, Maddux et al., 1991 found that they have similar objectives which to identify customers, discover what customers want and also provide a way to fulfill customer’s desires. Quality function deployment concept basic translates the desire of customer, it is, the voice of customers into product technical requirement and responds to their needs and wants (Akao 1990). QFD consists of two questions: “WHAT” refer to customer’s requirements and “HOW” refer how the requirements are fulfill satisfied (Hauser & Clausing, 1998). QFD consists of three features which are facilitator (a cross-functional team), tool (a series of matrices), and goal (a customer satisfaction target).
Brown (1991) suggested that QFD brings the benefits such as superior product design, improving potential of new innovation and low project and product costs which leading more satisfaction of customers about the products. Raynor (1994) demonstrated the power of QFD bases on an organization’s processes and how these processes operate to create customer satisfaction. Kano (1984) and other researchers have developed very useful model that can help us gain clearly understanding of customer satisfaction. It is easier for the organization in term of product development to understand that higher product performance can lead to higher customer satisfaction. In his model, product features are divided into three different categories and each of these features affects customer satisfaction in different way. (See Fig 3)
Must- be attributes: For example, when customer considers to buy a new car, an attribute may be “No Scratches”, Nevertheless, customer can be dissatisfied when a product they purchase does not meet their needs sufficiently. One-dimensional attributes: It happens in customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction when fulfilled or not fulfilled. Customers are more satisfied when these attributes become better. Attractive attributes: Customers are more satisfied with strong achievement of these attributes.
Kano model clearly provides the view of relationship between customer satisfaction and performance of a product. The relationship is different between must-be, one-dimensional and attractive attributes. Moreover, Kano model also contributes an approach for categorising customer attributes into different types. Matzler et al.(1998) and Vasilash (1995) also have further discussed about Kano model.
Based on Kano model, there are some direct implements on product development to satisfy customers. In the market, for example car market, customers can be difficult in making their decision when they purchase a new car because there are many similar products with similar features and models as well. Therefore, the firms may be unable to satisfy their customers by meeting their basic needs and wants; In order to achieve, they must exceed customer expectations. Products quality can retains their customers, moreover, customer requirements and customer satisfaction can be satisfied and exceed with such product quality.