Identifying Gaps in Your Customer Support Journey

Mind the Gap - Trainline
For global organizations, maintaining an optimized customer support journey is more important than ever. The key to enhancing customer satisfaction and fostering loyalty lies in identifying and addressing the 'gaps' – discrepancies between customer expectations and their actual experiences.

These gaps can significantly impact your relationship with clients and ultimately affect your bottom line.

This article explores effective strategies for organizations to analyze and improve their customer support processes, ensuring every interaction contributes to a seamless and satisfying customer journey. By closing these gaps, companies can ensure consistent service quality and build a loyal customer base.

Understanding customer expectations

Rather than being an afterthought, customer expectations should be central to refining customer support. For example, did you know that 79% of customers expect interactions across different departments to be consistent?

Aligning your service delivery to these expectations is key. But first, you need to understand the expectations themselves.

How? Gathering direct feedback through customer surveys, social media engagement, and direct communications offers valuable insights into what customers anticipate and value in their interactions. This feedback is crucial for identifying discrepancies between expected and delivered services.

Additionally, continuous monitoring of customer interactions can reveal evolving expectations and help maintain service relevance. For instance, tracking customer support calls and online chat sessions can highlight areas needing immediate improvement.

By consistently analyzing and adapting to customer feedback, companies can not only meet but exceed expectations. The knock-on effects are enhancing overall customer satisfaction and fostering long-term loyalty. For example, 80% of customers say their customer service experience is as important as the products and services they’re buying.

Mapping the customer support journey

The business-consumer relationship isn’t defined by a single moment. Like any relationship, it’s made up of several touchpoints that form a journey.

To effectively identify gaps in customer support, organizations must first map the entire customer journey. This involves creating a detailed visualization of every touchpoint a customer interacts with, from initial awareness and consideration to purchase and post-purchase support. Each stage of this journey offers unique opportunities and challenges for engaging customers effectively.

Mapping out the journey allows companies to see where customers experience satisfaction or frustration. They might love your user-friendly website when first discovering your brand, for example, but feel let down by the contact center much further down the line.

Key touchpoints to analyze include first contact points, such as website visits or customer service calls, and critical decision points, like making a purchase or signing up for a service. It’s also crucial to evaluate the post-purchase experience, including follow-up support and issue resolution.

Understanding these interactions in detail helps identify “pain points” or areas where customers might feel dissatisfied or neglected. By addressing these issues, businesses can improve the smoothness and effectiveness of their customer support.

With 55% of customers saying they would stop using a company after multiple bad experiences, it’s clearly worth looking into!

Analyzing data to identify gaps

With a firm grasp of customer expectations and their journey mapped out, you can start to look for gaps where expectations don’t align with experiences.

Effective gap analysis in customer support relies heavily on comprehensive data collection and analysis. It enables you to systematically review customer interactions, purchase data, and support ticket resolutions – looking for those all-important gaps.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are invaluable for this analysis, including:

  • Response time
  • Resolution rate
  • Customer satisfaction scores

For a holistic view of the customer experience, it’s also important to integrate data from various sources, such as:

  • CRM systems
  • Social media interactions
  • Direct feedback

Advanced analytics can reveal patterns and trends that pinpoint service shortcomings. For instance, high volumes of repeat complaints or inquiries about a particular service aspect may indicate a significant gap in initial support communications or service delivery.

This data-driven approach allows companies to make informed decisions on where to focus improvement efforts. It ensures that resources are effectively allocated to areas that will most enhance the customer experience and reduce friction in the support journey.

Employing gap models for structured analysis

To systematically address and minimize gaps in customer support, employing structured models such as the SERVQUAL (Service Quality Gap Model) can be particularly effective. This model identifies five primary gaps between customer expectations and their perceptions of the service received, providing a clear framework for analysis and improvement.

  • Knowledge gap: Arises when there is a disconnect between customer expectations and management’s understanding of those expectations.
  • Policy gap: This occurs when the company’s standards of service don’t match what the management understands to be the customer’s expectations.
  • Delivery gap: Exists when the service delivered does not meet the service standards set by the company.
  • Communication gap: Manifests when communications to customers promise more than what the service actually delivers.
  • Perception gap: This happens when there is a difference between the service delivered and the customer’s perception of the service.

Addressing each of these gaps individually allows businesses to devise targeted strategies that enhance overall service quality and customer satisfaction, ensuring a more aligned and effective customer support operation.

Leveraging technology to bridge gaps

Once you’ve identified gaps in your customer journey, you’ll no doubt want to bridge them. Technology can play a pivotal role in this process.

Advanced CRM

Implementing advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can streamline interactions and provide a unified view of customer activities. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the obvious solution for organizations that use Microsoft Teams, for instance. However, it’s also possible to integrate CRM and unified communications platforms from different vendors with the right partner – more on this later!

AI deployment

Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots can handle routine inquiries efficiently, freeing up human agents for more complex issues. Long gone are the days when these chatbots were basic, and customers could easily see through them. For example, Avaya Virtual Agent provides self-service options through channels like web chat, audio and email to answer customer questions, resolve issues and even make tailored recommendations.

Proactive analytics

Additionally, analytics tools can dissect vast amounts of data to offer actionable insights and predict future customer behaviors. This was a key part of the solution we provided for a major oil and gas company. Having consolidated their IT assets, we implemented ongoing analytics to shape the client’s future strategy.

By integrating these technological solutions, companies can enhance responsiveness, personalize customer service, and ultimately close the critical gaps in their customer support framework.

Developing an action plan to address gaps

Once gaps in customer support are identified, developing a clear and actionable plan is crucial. This plan should outline specific steps to address the deficiencies, set achievable goals, and define measurable outcomes.

Begin by prioritizing gaps based on their impact on customer satisfaction and business objectives. Assign responsibilities to appropriate teams or individuals and set deadlines for each action item. And incorporate regular reviews to monitor progress and adjust the plan as needed.

Effective communication across departments ensures that all team members are aligned with the objectives, facilitating a cohesive approach to improving the customer experience and achieving strategic goals.

Implementing changes and measuring impact

When closing gaps, changes in customer support must be implemented effectively. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Start by rolling out pilot programs for select improvements to gauge their effectiveness before full-scale deployment.
  • Training and resources should be provided to ensure staff are well-prepared to adopt new processes or technologies.
  • Measuring the impact of these changes is equally important. Use pre-defined KPIs such as customer satisfaction ratings, response times, and resolution rates to track progress.
  • Regularly collecting customer feedback post-implementation can also provide insights into the success of the changes. Adjustments should be made based on this feedback to continuously refine and improve customer support strategies.

This is where a global partner can add serious value. Whether you’re deploying new technology or introducing better analytics, change management can be complex across multiple sites and potentially different countries and regions too. With around 5,000 experts in 145 countries, Aura can make things simpler and more cost-effective. See for yourself in our success story for a global agricultural company.

Ready to bridge the gaps in your customer support?

Identifying and addressing gaps in customer support is essential for enhancing service quality and customer satisfaction. By rigorously understanding your customers and their journey, analyzing performance, and strategically implementing improvements, businesses can ensure they not only meet but exceed customer expectations – fostering loyalty and driving long-term success.

As you refine your customer support operations, Aura’s tailored solutions ensure seamless interactions at every touchpoint.

Whether it’s utilizing global SIP trunking, implementing Microsoft Teams or moving to a cloud contact center, our comprehensive services help you close the gaps in your customer journey. Crucially, we allow you to do it consistently across multiple sites and regions without the associated hassle.

Discover how Aura’s innovative strategies can streamline your customer support and maintain close connections, even as your global footprint expands. Our dedicated team is committed to equipping you with the technologies and insights needed to keep your service standards high and customer relationships strong.

Don’t let service gaps hinder your customer satisfaction. Connect with Aura today to see how our solutions can transform your customer experience and support your growth ambitions.

Contact Aura now to strengthen your customer support strategy >

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