Editor's note: Doug Berdie is president of Consumer Review Systems, a Minneapolis research firm.

Measuring customer satisfaction has been an organizational imperative since the 1980s. Since that time, the acceptance of a false assertion by management executives and research practitioners has limited the value of surveying customers. The false assertion is: If customer satisfaction scores increase, then revenue and profits will necessarily increase.

The reason this assertion is false is because it talks about scores not actual business activity. Strict adherence to this false assertion has blinded many from seeing, and focusing on, two true assertions:

If activities that better meet customer needs are implemented, then a positive impact on revenue and profits will usually result.

If customer needs are better met, then customer satisfaction scores will usually increase.

Let’s examine the consequences that flow from accepting the false assertion and not focusing on the two true assertions.

Truth: Increased customer satisfaction scores do not necessarily result in increased business financial results

Like many myths, the false assertion has been repeated so often most people unquestioningly accept it as fact. The purported chain of events that underlies the assertion (from satisfaction scores » repurchase » loyalty » positive financial results) seemed to make sense – despite a lack of data to support it. Now we are able to examine the extent to which satisfaction scores do predict financial results. And the truth is that customer satisfaction scores do not reliably predict bottom-line financial results. They are nothing more than scores and many things influence scores that are not related to the actual experience customers receive.

A solid business-to-business example comes from Brock White Company LLC, a North American construction products/materials distributor, which re...