When was the last time you had a wow customer experience?
A Customer Experience describes customer interactions with a brand throughout the buyer journey. The Customer Experience includes all aspects, from advertising, and customer support, to buying and using a product or service.
A recent study found that 49% of customers were not happy with their customer experiences resulting in something called a Customer Experience Gap.
What is a Customer Experience Gap?
The Customer Experience Gap, also known as the CX gap, is when there is a gap between what customers expect from a brand and how effectively they are meeting those expectations.
Customer expectations are growing rapidly, and brands are struggling to keep up with the pace, causing it to widen.
Today, customers are looking to buy an experience more than the product, which should be at the forefront of business and marketing strategies to avoid it.
Why is a Customer Experience Gap happening?
A survey found a whopping 87% of marketers believe they are providing an engaging customer experience.
But, in reality, only 8% of customers will agree, creating a mismatch and ongoing Customer Experience Gap.
If a brand believes they are delivering a positive customer experience, closing the customer experience gap will become ever more challenging.
The competition is fierce, and closing the customer experience gap is crucial for brands to encourage brand loyalty, increase sales, and build a positive brand reputation.
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How can you close the Customer Experience Gap?
There have been huge digital advancements today that have given brands enough access to data to help close the customer experience gap.
73% of customers consider a good customer experience a key factor for brand loyalty, so closingit is essential for businesses to stay ahead of the competition.
Here are a few ways to help you close it.
Visualize the Customer Journey to Understand Why There is a Customer Experience Gap
Simply put, the Customer Experience Gap is created because brands are not giving customers what they want.
To understand where you could be going wrong, create a customer journey map to visualize and identify weaknesses to understand why it is occurring.
When creating a visual representation of the customer journey, think about what your customers are looking for and what’s missing from the journey and causing it. Which aspects can be improved? Where can you implement changes?
Get all your teams involved, so you have different perspectives to work with when working on closing it. From awareness to purchase, understand customer personas, emotions, touchpoints, and behaviors at each stage.
The customer journey map is the first step in closing the customer experience gap because it provides a picture of what your customer is experiencing.
Pro Tip: Customers will decide on your brand in a matter of seconds, so every aspect of the journey matters to prevent it.
Experience the Customer Journey Firsthand to Pinpoint it
Have you watched The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert Di Nero? Hathaway plays a founder of a fashion website, and Di Nero plays her intern. One scene in the movie shows Hathaway receiving a product she ordered from her website.
Why was this a great idea to find it? Because it puts her in the shoes of her customers. What she found was the packaging was not up to par which would be the Customer Experience Gap. Hence, she went and offered her advice to her employees and demonstrated ways to improve the packaging to close it.
This is what closing it is all about; finding ways to improve your product or services at every stage of the customer journey by understanding what your customer wants vs. what they are getting.
The Customer Experience gap can occur at any stage of the customer journey, including aspects like packaging, delivery, and presentation. Attention to detail is key, and the small things matter to the customer.
Ask Your Customers to Help Identify The Customer Experience Gap
It is giving your customers what they expect. We can do our groundwork and create personas, but what would be better than actually asking your customers?
Feedback surveys are a great tool to use when we want to close it. They can be integrated at different stages of the customer journey to provide insights into what the customer is thinking and where it is happening.
Involving your customer is a great way to show them what they think and feel matters and a quick survey is an easy way to collect the data you need to improve.
Ask customers at various stages of the customer journey for feedback, for example, if they did not complete a purchase. This is the key to closing it as you are provided with real-time information.
Pro Tip: Add an incentive to get customers to complete surveys, like a free trial or special discount, so you can collect data and identify areas where a Customer Experience Gap can occur.
Brief Your Team to Avoid a Customer Experience Gap
The Customer Experience Gap is all about understanding what your customer expects from your brand.
It is created because we believe we are providing the customer with what they want, but in reality, that is not the case.
Your employees play a key role in how customers interact with your brand and in finding why there is a Customer Experience Gap. Whether it is your customer support team or marketing team, there should be clear guidelines and help provided, Hence, they have what they need to deliver the customer experience your customers are looking for.
Consistency is key to building brand awareness and preventing it. How you talk to your customers, the tone and language you use across all communications, how efficiently customers are handled, etc. All these aspects make up a customer journey, and if something is lacking from any aspect, then there will be a Customer Experience Gap.
To lessen the chances of it ensure everyone is on the same page. Your brand depends on consistency and setting standards to maintain that brand voice and personality throughout the customer journey to avoid it.
Don’t Be Afraid of Change to Overcome a Customer Experience Gap
The steps highlighted above are ways you can identify it. Once you can pinpoint where something isn’t quite working in the customer journey, you can begin closing the customer experience gap by making changes.
If there is a Customer Experience Gap, then your current strategy is not meeting the expectations of your customer, hence creating it.
Once you start analyzing the customer journey and finding reasons why there is a Customer Experience Gap, the easier it will be to make changes.
Changes to close the Customer Experiencer Gap can include changes in website content, app content, and content across social media channels. Avoid complicated jargon and help customers understand what you are offering in simple terms to increase engagement and sales and lessen the chances of it.
Another tip to improving the customer experience and closing it is your customer support avenues. How can a customer contact you? Is your customer support team always available? Do you use a Bot?
Pro Tip: Customers seek efficiency because they don’t always have the time. Automate where possible to close the Customer Experience Gap!
Don’t Lose Out to Competition with a Customer Experience Gap
Customers are spoilt for choice, and a Customer Experience Gap can be a deal breaker.
If you are not providing the customers with what they want, then chances are another brand is.
Go above and beyond for your customers and exceed their expectations. It is created because expectations are not met.
Once you have figured out how to close the Customer Experience Gap, go one step further to ensure another one doesn’t happen again in the future.
Get Personal to Close a Customer Experience Gap
Customers like personalized customer experiences, and according to a study, 75% of customers don’t like content that doesn’t have a personalized touch.
Your business will have many customers, but you need to ensure each customer feels like they are the only one. So no Customer Experience Gap is holding you back from retaining customers and increasing revenue.
If you use personalization to close it, you also increase the time your customers spend interacting with your brand.
Personalization pays off when you are trying to closeit, and it is not hard to implement it into your website or marketing strategies.
When we talk about personalization, think about Amazon product recommendations or Netflix content recommendations. Clothing brands also enhance the customer experience, with easier navigation through apps or websites for quicker product searches and loyalty programs.
You can easily use personalization with email marketing, websites, landing pages, and applications to give customers what they want and bridge it.
58% of customers say that personalization can help when making purchasing decisions and can effectively help in closing it.
Why is closing the Customer Experience Gap important?
Simply put, if you are not giving the customers what they want, you will not be able to keep customers or attract new ones and it will only get bigger.
The Customer Experience Gap is all about what the customer expects from your brand and the mismatch in what your brand is providing.
It can occur for various reasons identified using the tips we highlighted above.
The advantage businesses have today is that data can be collected to tell you more about the customer and the customer journey and help you make changes to close it.
The Customer Experience Gap is something that can be identified when you take the time and use the tools to understand customer expectations.
Collecting and analyzing data can put things into perspective to stop it from delaying business growth.
The key to closing is consistently adhering to your brand’s voice. The customer goes on a customer journey where what you are putting out, creates awareness, increases sales, and can build customer advocacy.
You can lose a customer at any point of the customer journey, and understanding there is a Customer Experience Gap is the right place to start improving how your brand is being perceived.61
The Customer Experience Gap, if viewed as an opportunity rather than a roadblock, can lead to a great potential for your brand and what the future can look like.
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published August 30, 2022, Updated March 01, 2023