Many theories havebeen formed to understand the process by which customers form satisfactionjudgements. The heart of the satisfaction process is the comparison of what wasexpected with the product or service’s performance – this process hastraditionally been described as the ‘confirmation / disconfirmation’ process.
First, customers would form expectations prior to purchasing aproduct or service. Second, consumption of or experience with the product orservice produces a level of perceived quality that is influenced byexpectations. If perceived performance is only slightly less thanexpected performance, assimilation will occur, perceived performance will beadjusted upward to equal expectations.
If perceived performance lagsexpectations substantially, contrast will occur, and the shortfall in theperceived performance will be exaggerated. Satisfaction can be determined by subjective (e.g.customer needs, emotions) and objective factors (e.
g. product and servicefeatures). According to Atkinson(1988), value for money, securityand courtesy of staff determines customer satisfaction and according toKnutson(1988) comfort, convenience of location, prompt service, safety andsecurity, and friendliness of employees are important. 1.2.1The Theory of Assimilation. Festinger’s theory of dissonance (1957) forms thebasis for the theory of assimilation.
The theory of dissonance states that theconsumer makes a sort of cognitive comparison between the expectationsregarding the product and the product’s perceived performance. If there is adiscrepancy between expectations and the product’s perceived performance, thedissonance will not fail to appear. This point of view on post-usage evaluationwas introduced in the literature discussing satisfaction under the form of thetheory of assimilation.
(Anderson, 1973) According to Anderson, the consumers try to avoiddissonance by adjusting their perceptions of a certain product, in order tobring it closer to their expectations. In a similar way, the consumers canreduce the tension resulted from the discrepancy between expectations and theproduct’s performance, both by distorting the expectations so that they couldbe in agreement with the product’s perceived performance, and by increasing thelevel of satisfaction through minimizing the relative importance ofexperimental disconfirmation (Olson and Dover, 1979). The theory presumes the consumers aremotivated enough to adjust both their expectations and their productperformance perceptions. If the consumers adjust their expectations or productperformance perceptions, dissatisfaction would not be a result of thepost-usage process. Consumers can reduce the tension resulting from adiscrepancy between expectations and product/service performance either by distortingexpectations so that they coincide with perceived product performance or byraising the level of satisfaction by minimizing the relative importance of thedisconfirmation experienced (Olson and Dover, 1979) Some researchers have discovered that the control onthe actual product performance can lead to a positive relationship betweenexpectations and satisfaction. (Anderson, 1973) Consequently, it is assumed that dissatisfaction couldnever appear unless the evaluation process began with the customers’ negativeexpectations. From theresearch, it is found that the customers expect good quality products withreasonable price, warranty, design and after sales service and it is found thatthe customers are satisfied with the product and the service they got. 1.
2.2The Contrast Theory Hovland, Harvey and Sherif (1987) first introducedcontrast theory. Dawes (1972) define contrast theory as the tendency to magnifythe discrepancy between one’s own attitudes and the attitudes represented byopinion statements. Contrast theory presents an alternative view of theconsumer post-usage evaluation process than was presented in assimilationtheory in that post-usage evaluations lead to results in opposite predictionsfor the effects of expectations on satisfaction. While assimilation theory positsthat consumers will seek to minimize the discrepancy between expectation andperformance, contrast theory holds that a surprise effect occurs leading to thediscrepancy being puffed up or exaggerated. According to the contrast theory, anydiscrepancy of experience from expectations will be overstated in the directionof discrepancy.
If the firm raises expectations in his advertising, and then acustomer’s experience is only slightly less than that promised, theproduct/service would be rejected as very un-satisfactory. Conversely,under-promising in advertising and over-delivering will cause positivedisconfirmation also to be exaggerated. From the research, it is found thatHidesign were able to maintain their loyal customers which helped them toincrease market share as these loyal customers helped in promoting Hidesign byrecommending to their friends, relatives etc