As a follow up to my last blog on the measurement of quality, experience, satisfaction & loyalty, let’s take a closer look at satisfaction, as we did in the context of our festival research program. Satisfaction is characterised by most researchers as an ‘emotional response’, a response to a certain service; or as an ‘emotional state’, an affective psychological outcome of visitors’ experience. What this experience includes stays mostly unclear. In contrast to explanations how satisfaction comes about, no less than four models are usually presented to assess consumer satisfaction (taken from: Yoon & Uysal - An examination of the effects of motivation and satisfaction on destination loyalty: a structural model. Tourism Management 2005, 26, pp. 45-56).
First up is the Expectation-disconfirmation model. According to this model consumers develop expectations about a product or service before purchasing. Subsequently, they compare the actual performance with those expectations. If the actual performance is better than their expectations, this leads to positive disconfirmation, which means that the consumer is highly satisfied and will be more willing to purchase the product or service again. If the actual performance is worse than expectations, this leads to negative disconfirmation, which means that the consumer is unsatisfied and will likely look for alternative products or other service providers for the next purchase.
Another model is the Equity model. Consumer satisfaction can be seen as a relationship between the costs of what the consumer spends and the benefits he or she anticipates. Price, benefits, time, and effort are major factors in determining satisfaction. Paying a lot of money on the black market for a concert ticket and traveling a long distance to the concert, only to experience a disappointing performance, could easily trigger the reaction: ‘to go through all this trouble…”. Receiving benefits that outweigh time, effort and money makes something worthwhile, satisfaction guaranteed.
The Norm model holds that consumers use norms that serve as reference points for judging a product or service, and dissatisfaction comes into play as a result of disconfirmation relative to these norms. For instance, tourists can compare current travel destinations with other alternative destinations or places visited in the past. The difference between present and past experiences can be a norm used to evaluate tourist satisfaction. Another example is a book adaption into a major movie, which often leads to the remark that it couldn’t live up to the book.
The fourth and last model is the Perceived performance model. According to this model, consumer dissatisfaction is only a function of the actual performance, regardless of consumers’ expectations. This model is effective when for instance tourists do not know what they want to enjoy and experience and do not have any knowledge about their destination circumstances, and only their actual experiences are evaluated to assess tourist satisfaction. Another example is the introduction of new technology (Walkman, iPad) in which case we cannot be sure what to expect.
All these models can quite easily be made into statements with which you can survey consumers or in our case festival visitors: “how does this experience compares to what you expected” (Expectancy-disconfirmation), “was this festival worth your time and effort” (Equity), “how does this festival compares to similar festivals” (Norm) and “overall, how satisfied are you with the festival” (Perceived performance).
So in the case of you Christmas diner, to investigate your own satisfaction ‘score’ just ask yourself: how does this Christmas dinner compares to what you expected, was this Christmas dinner worth your time and effort, how does this Christmas dinner compares to similar Christmas diners, and overall, how satisfied are you with the Christmas diner. Or.. you could just enjoy your meal and the family togetherness, without getting to emotional, a next satisfaction begging event is already lurking around the corner: new years eve is still ahead…