No matter where you conduct your survey, you’ll always find the same response regarding customer experience:
“We put our customers first”
“This is a customer-centric business through and through!”
In plenty of cases, this is just another buzzword uttered when there’s nothing better to say.
But there’s a lot to be said about the reality and depth of the customer experience chasm that separates companies from their clientele.
When asked, 87% of the companies responded that their customer experience is “good enough” (7/10 or higher). However, customers’ responses paint a different picture: just 40% of customers rate their experiences as 7/10 or better.
A customer experience chasm stands between businesses and their desired progress and growth, with customer churn sabotaging their efforts.
Several tactics help bridge the gap, or at least bring the edges closer.
Today, we’ll advocate for the best one there is: harnessing the power of your frontline staff and learning directly from customers in a relevant context.
The Iceberg of Ignorance: Understanding the Customer Experience Gap
So, it turns out that “good enough” isn’t actually good enough for the majority of the customers.
The customer experience gap is much wider than respondents perceive. But you should also consider who is the blindsided party providing the naively optimistic responses.
In a 1980s study coining the “Iceberg of Ignorance” concept, an understanding of the business agents who truly understood the customer experience chasm was uncovered.
According to this study by Sidney Yoshida, the higher you go in the organisational hierarchy, the more detached from real problems you become:
- Executives and top management are only familiar with 4% of business problems;
- Middle management/department managers know about a mere 9% of the issues;
- Team leaders who directly oversee the workers get a hold of 74% of problems;
- Frontline staff sees all 100% of problems that occur daily.
While these findings should be taken with a grain of salt (the study is 30 years old, and myths still surround the man they call Sidney Yoshida), the message behind the “Iceberg of Ignorance” rings true:
Not only there is a considerable gap between what customers want and what businesses provide, but frontline workers are the key to closing this gap.
The Importance of Context
Let’s illustrate the importance of context in which the issues occur with a simple “Iceberg of Ignorance” situation.
Top management of a fast food restaurant might know that the most considerable customer churn happens in winter months. No matter the holiday discounts and deals they hand out like candy, the churn doesn’t stop, and it takes them a couple of months to recover.
But they didn’t bother asking their delivery workers and servers what was happening. If they did, they would know that bad weather prevents customers from using the parking or receiving hot food in a reasonable time window!
Higher levels of organisation are often detached from real-life issues their customers face. The example above is as dumbed down as possible — many businesses fail to notice more complex problems thanks to ignoring/not asking for input from frontline staff that sees it all unfold on the spot.
How to Bridge the Customer Experience Gap
Learn From the Source — Survey Your Customers
There’s no one better to elaborate on customer pain points, frustrations, and unmet expectations than the customers themselves.
Customer satisfaction surveys can be sent via email or WhatsApp; for brick-and-mortar premises, pick the team member with the best people skills to ask customers to share their thoughts on a customer survey tablet.
Surveying the customers is a massive standalone topic — general consensus recommends:
- Offering some kind of incentive or work on amazing copy to convince them the survey is worth filling out;
- Keeping surveys short, especially if they’re filling it in on-premises!
- Making questions simple, clear, and precise - one topic per question;
- Including open-ended questions for extra details;
- Always implement the feedback and let the customers know you did so.
Reinforce the Feedback Loops Within the Organization
When did your managers last ask their workers for honest feedback, and not vice versa?
Establishing feedback loops that include all levels within the organisation is key to melting the Iceberg of Ignorance. Feedback loops keep the higher management well-informed and down to earth, connected to daily palpable issues customers and frontline workers face. Managers who stay in the loop can dive deep and effectively bridge the customer experience gap.
Feedback loops also foster great workplace culture, accountability, and teamwork — what’s not to like?
Empower Your Frontline Workforce
High service speed, convenience across platforms and brick-and-mortar stores, and friendly, helpful service are the top priorities for consumers worldwide.
Your frontline staff is uniquely positioned to tie everything together and provide a flawless customer experience, closing the customer experience gap with ease.
- Boost employee engagement efforts. Growth opportunities, a supportive workplace, proper feedback, and recognition of their effort are top engagement drivers you should implement if you haven’t already.
- Work on continuous employee alignment and training. Deskless workers do need proper onboarding (and pre-boarding, if possible), but their education shouldn’t end there. By continuously investing in their skills, you’ll create a more productive workforce less prone to workplace mistakes.
How Mercu Fits In
What if we told you that you need only WhatsApp to hire, onboard, train, and engage the entire frontline workforce?
Deskless workers are your best asset in bridging the customer experience chasm, but only if you handle the processes above without disrupting their work or demanding their sparse free time.
With these needs in mind, we’ve built Mercu. The platform ties flawlessly into any chat app to provide interactive, chat-based learning and engagement resources.
Book a demo, and let us show you how easy it can be.