It’s now the year 2024, where customer expectations and the service they expect is ever-evolving. A lot of this has meant going online – with the advent of round-the-clock support becoming the norm, and the integration of AI chatbots – the customer service arena has certainly shifted. However, amidst many of these technological advancements, oftentimes the best thing you can do is get back to the core of customer service – understanding your customers.
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to keep your customers happy and do it better than your competitors. So, staying ahead in the game can require a more strategic approach.
One formidable tool in this pursuit is gap analysis. When applied to customer strategy, gap analysis can prove very powerful for understanding where improvements are needed.
In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explore how you can leverage gap analysis to elevate your customer service strategy and boost customer acquisition.
What is gap analysis in customer strategy?
Gap analysis is a strategic planning tool that can help you to improve your customer strategy by pinpointing and addressing discrepancies between your current practices and desired standards. This is achieved by first identifying the difference (or gap) between your business’ existing customer strategy and its ‘desirable’ or ‘desired’ state.
Think – If customers aren’t happy with my service, how do I make it better? This is where gap analysis comes in – figuring out what’s not working, so you can fix it and meet and exceed their expectations.
But first, what are some elements that affect customer happiness?
What are the factors that affect customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction can be a delicate equilibrium to manage at times. Especially when customers don’t feel their concerns are fully understood. Effective communication is the cornerstone of customer satisfaction.
When businesses fail to grasp and address the nuances of customer queries or feedback, it can lead to dissatisfied customers. Ensuring your customer service team doesn’t just listen but truly comprehends, and acts on that understanding, is pertinent.
Ever wondered how understanding the way in which your customers think could elevate your customer strategy? Click to view our full whitepaper and change the way you do business with your customers top-of-mind.
Remember – People perceive and absorb information, make decisions and solve problems in markedly disparate ways, so understanding the thinking styles of your customers and expanding the thinking styles of your workforce outside of their ‘regular’ thinking preferences can serve a significant difference to your bottom line.
Now let’s dive into Herrmann’s step-by-step guide on how to use gap analysis to enhance your customer strategy and improve outcomes.
Step by Step Guide on Using Gap Analysis to Improve your Customer Strategy
Step 1: Define Your Customer Strategy Goals
Conducting a gap analysis begins by clearly outlining your customer strategy goals. You may want to enhance overall customer satisfaction, improve brand loyalty, or optimise the customer journey. Whatever it is that you’re aiming to achieve – establish objectives that seamlessly align with your broader business vision.
Example: Suppose your aim is to strengthen your customers’ brand loyalty by 20% within the next quarter.
Step 2: Identify Current Customer Strategy Performance
Gather data on your current customer strategy performance. This may involve reviewing customer feedback, analysing customer metrics such as conversion rates and customer retention metrics, and conducting surveys. This assessment should be thorough as it will act as a baseline for the rest of your gap analysis.
Tip: To start any sort of gap analysis, it’s always important to look at the data. Make sure you have a robust way that you are measuring your customers’ expectations and satisfaction levels as a starting point.
Example: Analyse recent customer feedback to uncover any notable dips in brand loyalty, with a decline in customer retention rates being a recurrent issue.
Step 3: Determine Desired Customer Strategy Standards
Specify the standards or benchmarks you want to achieve. Define what you would consider ‘the gold standard’ for your holistic customer strategy. These could be industry best practices, competitor benchmarks, internally set targets, or something more niche to your specific business or offering.
In this step, determining the desired standards for your customer strategy involves envisioning the optimal scenario that aligns with your business goals and customer expectations.
Example: Set a benchmark based on the industry conversion rate and average or desired brand loyalty scores.
Step 4: Identify the Gaps
Compare your current performance against your desired standards for your customer strategy as set out in Step 3. Identify the gaps between what you are currently achieving and what you aim to achieve. These gaps may exist in processes, your team’s knowledge, technology, employee skills, communication strategies or any other relevant areas.
Example: The analysis uncovers a notable gap in customer retention, triggering an assessment of the customer service team’s knowledge of customers. This prompts a tailored approach to address their specific needs.
Step 5: Analyse the Causes of Gaps
Determine the reasons behind the identified gaps. Are there inefficiencies in processes, gaps in employee training, or limitations in your current technology stack? Understanding the root causes of the gaps identified in your customer strategy are crucial for effective problem-solving.
Example: Upon further investigation, it becomes apparent that the lack of training for new customer service team members regarding key customer bases or segments contributes to a gap in customer retention. Consequently, this prompts a focused adaptation in communication strategies tailored to this specific segment.
Tip: Whole Brain® Thinking can play a pivotal role in addressing the identified gap in the example. By applying this framework, you can ensure that your adaptation in communication strategies caters to the diverse cognitive preferences of your customer base.
Step 6: Prioritise Gaps and Set Targets
Prioritise the identified gaps based on their impact on customer satisfaction and overall business goals. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for closing these gaps. This step ensures that your efforts are focused on the most critical areas.
Example: Prioritise the improvement of customer retention across specific customer segments as a high-impact initiative to enhance overall brand loyalty with a specific focus on how to communicate with different groups of customers.
Step 7: Develop an Action Plan
Create a comprehensive action plan outlining the steps needed to bridge the identified gaps. This may involve implementing new training programs, upgrading technology, revising processes, or hiring additional staff.
Assign responsibilities accordingly and establish timelines for each action item to ensure healthy progress. Communicate the proposed plan directly to your team and open it for discussion, considering how different thinking styles may interpret and embrace the changes.
Tip: It is a good idea to draft your action plan with Whole Brain® Thinking in mind – ensuring that the steps are clear and actionable for all thinking styles in your team.
Example: Implement a targeted training program for customer-facing teams, incorporating visual aids for holistic thinkers and providing detailed documentation for analytical thinkers.
Step 8: Implement Changes
Execute your action plan and implement the necessary changes with each team member’s thinking preferences and ways of working in mind. Provide ongoing support to your team, communicate changes when they arise, and monitor progress closely, considering the diverse ways in which your team members may approach and adapt to the changes.
Example: Roll out the new training program, tailoring the content to accommodate various thinking styles within the customer service team. Ensure that the changes resonate with each team member, fostering a more adaptable and customer-centric approach in addressing different customer needs.
Step 9: Monitor and Evaluate
Regularly monitor your customer strategy metrics against the established benchmarks, collecting feedback from your customers and your team along the way. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented changes. Use customer feedback, metrics, and other relevant data to measure progress, making adjustments as needed to ensure various thinking styles are accommodated.
Example: Monitor post-implementation metrics to reveal an improvement in customer retention across diverse customer groups and gather feedback to understand how each group perceives the changes.
Step 10: Adjust and Iterate
Based on ongoing evaluations, adjust your customer strategy as needed. Iterate on the process, and address new gaps identified to continuously strive for improvement. Your customer strategy should be dynamic, so be ready to adapt to changing customer needs and industry trends.
Tip: Recognise that your customer base consists of individuals with diverse cognitive preferences and thinking styles and your customer strategy should be ever evolving to address the needs of each of these groups.
When you follow these steps, you can systematically identify, address, and improve the gaps in your customer strategy, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.
Closing the Gap with Whole Brain® Thinking
Aligning your business’ customer strategy with Whole Brain® Thinking allows you to systematically address and close performance gaps while aligning with diverse thinking styles. This way, you pave the way for a customer strategy that resonates with a broader audience and lays the foundation for successful customer acquisition strategies.
Tailor your strategy development process to amplify clarity, confidence, and consensus among your team. Devise a forward-thinking strategy aimed at advancing interactions and fostering successful relations between your employees and customers. By doing so, you not only elevate customer satisfaction but also create a winning scenario for all stakeholders involved.
Crafting a winning customer strategy that speaks to many customer segments without any gaps can be challenging. Want to better understand how Whole Brain® Thinking can elevate and assist in the process?