How to bridge the customer expectation gap

How to bridge the customer expectation gap

Bridging the Customer Expectation Gap

As the world continues to grow digitally, running a SaaS business has the potential to yield more profits than ever before. Today, we are seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of users of subscription services.

However, this situation means that customers now demand more and more of their vendors — especially in a market with as much competition as SaaS. It's more important than ever before, therefore, for companies to make sure they are meeting those demands so their users have a reason to stick around.

What exactly is the customer expectation gap?

The term "customer expectation gap" refers to the difference between what your team can deliver to your customer and what your customers actually expect from your company.

In terms of service and reliability, your organization should have a baseline for its customer experience. However, the customer expectation gap can be particularly large if your business does not actively prepare to meet demands on a large scale.

While every organization has a few outliers among customers and a handful of people will either demand too much or were a bad fit to begin with, it's still worth your while to look at the bigger picture to find the real results on customer preferences. You should also keep an eye on industry trends to understand where your company stands in terms of customer satisfaction. Your CSAT scores are a good yardstick to gauge how well you're meeting customer expectations, and we've already written extensively about how to measure CSAT and how to benchmark your performance against CSAT industry standards.

The gap between how well brands perceive their customer experience performance and the reality from a customer's perspective is quite telling.

According to Forrester Research, 89% of brands reportedly invest in personalization. However, many of them struggle with a fundamental misunderstanding of customers and how to deliver contextually relevant CX.

Put yourself in the shoes of today's customer for a second: in their eyes, they probably have some experience of your company even before becoming a customer of yours. That's why, when working with your company's services for the first time, their expectations are likely shaped by what's previously happened. And their expectation is to have as smooth of an experience as possible.

That's precisely why your company needs to be ahead of the curve and deliver a customer experience that will not falter the trust you've developed. This level of dependability is only achievable by bridging the customer expectation gap

This article will share some essential tips that will help you avoid the pitfalls of customer expectations in today's world and become a leader in customer experience for your industry.

How can you reduce or eliminate the customer expectation gap?

Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to make sure you are always meeting — even exceeding – customer expectations. They include: 

  • Embrace proactive support and reduce your reliance on reactive support
  • Engaging with your customers in a personalized way
  • Empowering them with efficient self-service and automation
  • Investing in your customer support team

Embrace proactive support

One of the scariest statistics in customer support and CX is that, out of every 26 users facing a problem, only 1 will report the issue and try to get help to solve it. The rest just churn. That's why it is no longer enough for customer support teams to offer reactive support — especially if their aim is to become CX leaders. That's because reactive support, as a general rule, only takes place once a customer has already experienced a problem, grown frustrated by it and finally reached out to customer support after trying to fix it themselves.

Proactive support, which is the philosophy of reaching out to customers as soon as an agent notices that a user has experienced an issue, is going to be a bigger and bigger part of good CX moving into 2023.

The best way to offer proactive support is to invest in a session replay tool. You can set it to record all user sessions in your app and then have your agents monitor those on an ongoing basis to look for errors and bugs. Once they spot something, they can either reach out to that user over chat or email — or they can use cobrowsing to collaborative and quickly solve more complex issues.

Engage with your clients through personalization

Personalization is a critical element that yields results when you're running a company tasked with meeting customer expectations. However, many SaaS companies rely overly on automation when communicating with their customers and designing customer experiences. If you're looking to bridge the customer expectation gap, you'll need to be cater to the fact that most customers really value personalization. Studies indicate that over 80% of customers are more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized experiences. 

To make your CX more personalized, there are a few things you can do: 

  • Use personalization tokens in every piece of communication your send out.
  • Frequently check in with your customers by sending out CSAT, CES and NPS surveys
  • Consider hiring customer success managers for your biggest accounts.

Empower your customers with efficient self-service and automation

When your company starts to grow exponentially, you may not be able to hire the necessary amount of customer support agents to meet demand. Automation is a handy tool to both empower users to solve their own issues and ease support burdens by resolving most simple level 0 and 1 support tickets.

Having support tools like chatbots can be extremely beneficial here. Some of the best chatbots are even capable of gathering context about your customers. According to research from McKinsey and Company, the implementation of automation in customer experiences has reportedly helped reduce costs and boosted conversion rates.

Creating FAQs and other self-service resources for customers allows them to be informed on what they actually need to do, and by having tools to integrate self-help, your customers won't always need to speak to your team.

Have an easily accessible 'Getting Started' guide on your website and mail this to users upon signing up.

Additionally, you should also have a comprehensive FAQ with a proper breakdown of most questions. A troubleshooting guide for simple issues is also a good resource to build.

Invest extensively in your customer support team

We've already established what the impact of focusing on your customer's wants and needs brings to the table. However, an area where most competitors fail is caring for their teams. This failure is something felt across the board in most industries, but especially customer support, where burnout rates tend to be high.

If you're trying to be a leader in customer experience and bridge the customer expectation gap, you should be value and invest in your customers and your customer support team in equal measure. One of the best ways you can improve upon this is by investing in more efficient tools for your support team to work with and improving customer relations with a mix of new technology and workflows.

Whether that new technology is session replays, cobrowsing, help desk or conversational intelligence, they can all help each agent do more with less, which is essential in a recession when companies are laying off significant percentages of their workforce.

In addition to retooling your tech stack, morale is a valuable tool for bringing out the best in people, so always aim to keep that high and you're efforts will be reflected in the performance of your support team.

Bridging the customer expectation gap for SaaS companies

As a SaaS company, you know that customer support is essential to your success. But delivering excellent customer support can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you're using outdated software. The customer expectation gap is a challenge for all businesses, but it can be incredibly daunting for SaaS companies.

By engaging with your clients through personalization, using proactive support, empowering them with efficient self-service and automation, and investing extensively in your customer support team, you can bridge the customer expectation gap and create satisfied customers who are more likely to stick around and become advocates for your company.

Author

Emma Bakh

CX Manager

Contributor