Are Aldi REALLY that good?

Following the publication of our article last week about the latest UK customer satisfaction index several readers have got in touch to ask what we actually mean by 'customer satisfaction' and is it the same as 'customer service' or 'customer loyalty'?
This is actually a very good question. But before I give the answer, I will tell you a little story.
This evening I was in my local branch of Aldi supermarket. I emptied my basket on the conveyor belt and waited in the queue. After waiting for a few minutes, the till operator turned to me and very gruffly said: "I'm closing. It's my break. You'll have to go to the next till."
So I had to put all the items back into my basket and move over to the next till. But just as I was moving over, somebody else went in front of me with a large basket of goods.
This was very frustrating as it meant, after waiting in one queue, I was effectively put to the back of another queue, through no fault of my own.
This isn't the first time I've received unpleasant customer service at Aldi. In fact regular readers will have seen several articles on this site in the past saying just how bad customer service is at this particular supermarket, and to be quite honest nearly every time I visit Aldi I seem to receive bad customer service.
You might wonder why I bother going at all, and I suppose it's for the same reason that everybody goes there; because it tends to be CHEAP.
But if you saw our article about the Customer Satisfaction index, then you will have seen that Aldi is now higher up in the satisfaction table than ALL other British supermarkets, including the high-cost shops like Waitrose and M&S food.
And this is the point of the story. Customer 'service' and customer 'satisfaction' are not the same thing. A customer who says they are 'satisfied' is not necessarily getting good service.
The table we published a few days ago was for customer satisfaction, NOT customer service. So it's not surprising that Aldi have come so high in the table. Customers are obviously satisfied with the low prices. But that does not mean Aldi offer good customer service. In my opinion they definitely do not.

What about Customer Loyalty?

Finally, that brings me on to the question of whether customer 'loyalty' is the same thing as customer satisfaction.
The link between customer loyalty and customer satisfaction is quite complex. There is obviously a causal relationship between the two. But that does not mean that satisfied customers will always be loyal customers - and vice versa.
The best example to illustrate this is banking. Academic research shows that over 80% of people who are dissatisfied with their bank say they intend to switch banks, yet only 10% of these people actually do so.
So despite many people being dissatisfied with their bank, they still remain loyal customers. 
Customer loyalty is not a straightforward subject. It's something I deal with in my new book 'The Loyalty Gap - The 7 Secrets of Customer Loyalty' which will be published in October.This blog deals with customer service, customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction. But it's important to emphasise that they are not the same thing.