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Dmytro Lazarchuk is a co-founder and CEO of Relokia with over eight years of experience in digital marketing and data migration services.
Do you remember a time when, as a student, you thought you absolutely nailed the test, but then you failed it? This may have been the case for many companies that lost clients in 2021. In fact, about 49% of customers say they left a brand due to poor customer service, and those businesses might not even suspect that’s the reason.
A customer service gap can cause this kind of business mishap. In this article, I will explain what this means, and I’ll also help you identify and close gaps in a customer experience strategy to attract and retain customers.
What Is a Customer Service Gap?
Let’s start with the definition. Customer service gaps or customer experience gaps occur when customers’ expectations regarding the company’s service differ from what it actually provides.
Expectations and perceptions of service are subjective and can depend on a customer’s age, cultural background, lifestyle and past experiences. Even in companies with perfect customer service, some clients can experience service gaps.
Still, you can satisfy most clients by tailoring your customer service strategy to the target audience’s needs.
Four Types of Customer Service Gaps
To fix service gaps, you must first know them by name—that is, identify their type. Here, for example, are four different types of gaps:
The expertise gap occurs when the support team lacks the knowledge and expertise to solve clients’ problems, or to solve them quickly enough to satisify the customer.
Say, a customer calls support with a simple request to add a new user to the CRM system. The support agent transfers the customer to another agent and then another instead of adding a user or providing the customer with instructions. These actions create a gap because the client expected to fix their issues with support team expertise in a matter of minutes.
A technology gap opens up when a company doesn’t use or provide common technologies that improve customer service and experience. This covers technologies used in products, such as NFC in smartphones, and tech advances in service provision like chatbots or CRM systems. (For example, consider when Nokia failed to add 3G to its Nokia Lumia series in the era of 4G.)
A communication gap happens when the product or service ad doesn’t match the actual offer. For instance, in 2009, L’Oreal used the phrase “clinically proven” to advertise its anti-aging product and promised “visibly younger skin in just seven days,” and the FTC found both of these claims to be unsubstiated.
Such a gap isn’t always intentional; sometimes, it’s caused by an inaccurate estimate. For example, a company promises the fastest service in the industry but cannot handle many service requests at once.
A data gap occurs when a company fails to use available digital tools to collect, store and leverage data in customer service.
As a result, a company can’t personalize the clients’ experience by using relevant recommendations or at least addressing the customers by first name in email correspondence. This blunder, also known as a personalization gap, frustrates 76% of customers.
Also, without performance metrics, the company cannot track its progress—or regression—in the quality of customer service.
How Can You Identify Customer Service Gaps?
Finding gaps in a customer experience strategy isn’t much of a challenge—you just need to pay attention to customer needs and staff skills relying on the following practices:
Do your research.
Even if you did your homework before starting your business, reevaluating your customers’ needs and your competitors’ capabilities is a must. Your product may lack key technology features or, perhaps, the users would like to get AI-powered recommendations like those offered by your competitors.
Create and test the customer journey map.
Think about your buyer’s journey from the first contact to the post-purchase service. Write down each stage and contact your support service team pretending to be your own customer. This way, you can track down weak points, whether it’s a lack of expertise, data or technologies that degrade the service quality.
Look at your metrics.
Numbers are your best friends to help track service quality. Regularly track and analyze the following metrics to identify customer service gaps:
• Average issue handling time
• First call/chat/email resolution rate
• Percentage of unattended requests
• Number of agents available per client per hour
• Average wait time on hold
• Average response time
• Conversation to close rate
• Customer satisfaction score
How Can You Bridge These Gaps?
Finding customer service gаps is just the beginning. The next step is to fix them successfully, and I have several recommendations for you. When you see your weaknesses, you know where to target your effort to close customer service gaps. In order to do so, consider the following practices:
• Create or update a knowledge base, such as FAQs and how-to articles, to reduce the number of service requests.
• Train your team to communicate and provide them with all the necessary know-how to handle customers’ issues.
• Adopt omnichannel support to distribute workload and give customers a preferred communication method.
• Adopt technology to respond fast to customer needs. For instance, most help desks have automation features like data collecting and chatbots that free employees from manual tasks and allow them to respond faster.
Of course, the list doesn’t end here, and you can take other actions to fix the customer experience gap your company struggles with.
Why Is Bridging the Customer Experience Gap Important?
Customer service gaps can pop up quickly if businesses fail to meet customer expectations. They occur for different reasons but always lead to the same result—frustrated customers switching to competitors. To close these gaps, every company must identify them in its customer experience strategy in time and bridge them as soon as possible.
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