Mind the gap – Customer expectation versus experience
Most businesses pride themselves on delivering an exceptional customer experience, but all too often the gap between what a customer expects and what they experience is vast.
In fact, a recent study by Bain & Company found while 80 per cent of businesses believe they deliver a “superior experience” to their customers, only eight per cent of customers agree.
That’s a significant chasm. So how do you ensure expectation meets experience, and where should you be looking to really identify when and why the two don’t match?
Customer expectation encompasses all the beliefs a consumer has about a brand. It ranges from the quality of products or services they expect to receive to the values they believe a brand espouses and the service they anticipate they will enjoy.
Most businesses invest significantly in setting up these expectations, highlighting these attributes on their website, advertising, social media and beyond.
The customer experience, on the other hand, is the actual interaction a consumer has with a business. It extends from the first point of contact right through to after-sales service and product use.
In brief, it encompasses how easy it is to use a service and buy a product, whether that product or service lives up to its promise, whether it sits at the right price point and how well staff performed during the product or service delivery.
This experience, according to many, is the new business battleground. Because in a time-poor age, if the experience doesn’t meet the expectation, the next business, service or product is just a Google search away.
A gap that matters greatly
When customer expectation and experience align, you have client satisfaction and in an increasingly competitive world that matters more than ever before.
Research consistently indicates consumers no longer purchase based on loyalty, or even products and prices, but rather on the experience they expect to enjoy.
By way of example, here are some statistics on customer experience recently published in Forbes:
- Two-thirds of companies compete on customer experience, up from just 36 per cent in 2010.
- 96 per cent of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
- Loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company.
- Companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80 per cent.
- 84 per cent of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.
- 73 per cent of companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially than their competitors.
How to identify discrepancies
To really know whether your business has delivered on its promise, you need to seek feedback from the customers you serve.
And this involves asking them a range of questions encompassing products, performance, business environment and more.
Not only does seeking feedback allow a business to view their operation through the eyes of their consumer, it also ensures the customer feels empowered and valued.
In fact, in 2017, a Microsoft survey noted 77 per cent of consumers view brands more favourably if they seek out and apply customer feedback.
For business, seeking feedback offers a wealth of advantages, identifying customer pain points, potential new products they could offer, along with that all-important insight into the actual customer experience.
It also helps identify the exact reasons a customer may consider leaving a brand.
The sooner a business can identify a problem that may be impacting their customer experience the better, as the following figures indicate:
- Companies lose $136.8 billion per year due to avoidable consumer switching. (CallMiner)
- More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service. (American Express)
- 33 per cent of consumers say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. (American Express)
- Companies with great experiences have a 16 per cent price premium on products and services. (PWC)
How we can help
If you’re looking to better understand your how your customer’s expectation aligns with their actual experience, Moodly is a leading provider of innovative feedback hardware and software solutions. Our easy to use feedback terminals offer an all-in-one solution so you can quickly seek feedback from your customers and enjoy up-to-the-minute analysis of the results.
View our feedback terminals here.