Perceptions, not results, drive satisfaction

Customers perceptions of service results rather than the service results themselves are key drivers of the customers’ satisfaction with the overall service:

satisfaction = perception – expectations

David Maister’s First Law of Service

Note that service results include the service experience as well as the service outcome, i.e. non-experiential service results (see previous post).

Maister (2003, p. 71-72) elaborates:

The significance of this seemingly simple formula is contained in the observation that neither perception nor expectation necessarily reflects reality. Both are experiential, psychological state of minds. Accordingly, the central challenge to service organisations is to manage not only the substance of what they do for clients but also manage clients’ expectations and perceptions.


Maister, D. (2003) Managing the professional services firm. Free Press.


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