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-based service model.

However, willingness to engage also comes with a new bar for criteria users demand to meet. Whether actively expressed or subconsciously expected, it has become increasingly clear that customer expectation levels are higher than ever.

This growth has become difficult to keep up with for a rising number of companies.

What exactly is the customer expectation gap?

The term "customer expectation gap" refers to the difference between what your team can deliver in comparison to the customer experience that your clients desire.

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

Sure, every organization has a few outliers among customers. Naturally, a handful of people expect your company to do everything imaginable for them, but looking at the bigger picture is where you'll find the real results on customer expectation preferences.

The data on trends will help you get a good idea of where you stand in the customer expectation gap.

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

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

Put yourself in the shoes of today's customer for a second. In their eyes, learning about your company was likely done online or by word of mouth. When working with your company's services for the first time, expectations are likely shaped by what's previously happened.

By engaging with your SaaS organization, their goal is to have a convenience that they can rely on consistently. 

For the customer, it should just work, and that expectation is something that should never be disrupted. However, the world can be unpredictable, and unexpected moments can suddenly affect a customer's reliance on your service.

In such moments, your company can 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.

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 over-rely on the data that they have to make decisions rather than looking towards treating each individual customer according to their contextual needs.

If you're looking to bridge the gap, you'll need to be aware of people's value in being seen and heard. That feeling is a potent factor that can be utilized in sating the desire for human experiences online.

One important thing you'll need to do is build trust and loyalty, as studies indicate that over 80% of customers are more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized experiences. 

When your company has a strong sense of personalization, it will be easier to develop the quality of your services further.

This is because customers that feel valued will be more willing to share data to help create a stronger relationship with your brand. Once you're proven to be reliable in a customer's eyes, they will want to keep that reliability alive, and sharing their data won't be a problem.

To further elevate the levels of personalization, there are a few base expectations that you should always meet. An important one is to recognize your customers by name.

In addition to this, you should also have a good sense of catering to their individual wants and needs. Your CX should be such that a customer feels like an individual, so establishing a personal tone and even going the extra mile to deliver for a customer will help bridge the customer expectation gap.

Keep in mind that establishing a personal tone and collecting data should never be too intrusive in a customer's eyes. Using basic psychology as a guide, you shouldn't be that person trying too hard to be seen. As long as your service is great and a customer reaches out, your duty is to be reliable and not to loom over their shoulders.

Empower your customers with efficient self-service and automation

Your customer support team can only have so many employees when your business begins to grow exponentially. Before hitting a wall of impossibility, it is therefore essential to have ways that allow your customers to choose how they want to be helped. This way, your company does not need to be present for every query imaginable.

That's where having support tools like chatbots are beneficial. Some of the best chatbots are entirely capable of gathering context about your customers. A good data analytics model is advantageous when paired with the services of a chatbot.

According to research from McKinsey and Company, the implementation of automation in customer experiences has reportedly helped reduce costs and boosted conversion rates; therefore, investing in automation through chatbots and other methods can only serve you positively.

Laying out your knowledge like FAQs and other options 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.

It would be best to have an easily accessible 'Getting Started' guide on your website and mail this to users upon signing up.

Additionally, an FAQ with a proper breakdown for most questions should be present for your organization. Consequently, if they have any issues that are not too technical, a set of troubleshooting guides optimized for an array of problems should be created and tested for reliability.

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 recognizable across the board in most industries. In 2021, the Great Resignation was a huge phenomenon that had a ripple effect across the United States economy, where many SaaS businesses are based.

This event was mainly triggered by COVID-19 and the recognition most employees made of the deficit their companies refused to address in terms of wages, cost of living, and job dissatisfaction.

If you're trying to be a leader in customer experience and bridge the customer expectation gap, you should be able to value and invest in your team to a similar extent that customers receive.

It might feel like you're overdoing it, but data shows that teams are far more efficient when working with engaged employees. Employee engagement is best maintained when they feel like a part of the bigger picture.

You can improve upon this by establishing more efficient tools for your support team to work with. Nobody wants to engage in customer support with a scrambled $10 headset and Windows Vista PC on the brink of collapse. Instead, your support channels should also be convenient on the employee side of things. 

Reassessing the tools used by your team will help make them more comfortable delivering top-notch service. Additionally, up-skilling and empowering the members of your support teams is a natural direction towards a better level of reliability over time.

Your CS team aren't only the customer-facing members of the company, so it is imperative that the core teams within the company ranging from developers to marketing and sales, all feel like a part of the bigger picture.

Morale is a valuable tool for bringing out the best in people, and it is a highly contagious factor. Therefore, having a general sense of satisfaction will be reflected in employee performance.

The customer support role is something much more significant today. As a value driver, it should be nurtured for a larger presence in the big picture of your company and respond well to customer feedback.

Bridging the customer expectation gap for SaaS companies

As a SaaS company, you know that customer support is essential to your success. 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, 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