Quality of Design vs. Quality of Delivery

Customer satisfaction has roots in two ideas about quality that come from an operational/production view of the business. The first idea is that quality can be measured by the gap between customers' expectations and their perceptions. This gap-based view of quality says that if you beat customers' expectations you have good quality.

The second idea is that quality is about conformance to a standard or specification. Within this idea is that once the design is set, quality is about ensuring that the end deliverable to the customer meets this design. Consequently from a production/operations point of view, customer satisfaction is about monitoring the quality of delivery of the product and service. The goal is to minimize production errors so saving money and making customers happy.

These production focused roots of customer satisfaction are sometimes overlooked by the more marketing focused researchers who carry out these type of studies, which can lead to a gap between what you want and what the researcher is providing.

However, experience also shows that design is actually an essential part of customer's overall view of satisfaction and it is not necessarily fully possible to separate out design from delivery. So some care is needed in really defining what it is that you are looking for from a customer satisfaction study, what you are going to use the information for and whether alternative approaches might be better for you.
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