Industry Update
Opinion Article 7 May 2020

Don’t Let Your Customers Fall In The Expected Experiences Gap

By Shep Hyken, Customer Service and Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author

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I've written about the concept of a "gap" a number of times over the years. Each time, the gap was different.

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The first time, I shared Dan Sullivan's principle about the gap between the goal you wanted to achieve and your actual results, if you didn't hit the goal. The difference was the gap.

Another time I wrote about the competitive gap, which is about the gap or distance you put between you and your competition. The bigger the gap, the bigger your advantage.

Then there was the gap between the service you want the customer to experience and the actual service they receive. Often when leadership is surveyed about how good they think their service and experience is, it differs—in a negative way—from what the customer is actually experiencing. The bigger the gap, the bigger the problem.

Well, the concept of the gap is expanding. Here's my latest angle on this idea.

I've always believed that the customer gets to decide if you deliver on the service you want them to have, as was the subject of the last gap article. However, in the past few years, the customer has become smarter about what a great service experience looks and feels like. They know what great service is because their favorite brands and companies teach them. It could be a big, recognizable brand they shop with or an industry vendor they buy from in their business. The point is that these organizations—your customer's favorites—are setting a new bar.

The new version of the gap is an expectation gap. It's the difference between what a customer experiences with the brands and companies they love and what they experience with you and your company. Before our customers became so customer service savvy, the gap was set by the competition. As mentioned in my second article about the gap, hopefully it's you, not your competition, that is creating a bigger gap. However, this new expectation has less to do with a direct competitor than the idea that the customer now compares you to the best service they have ever had from any brand or organization.

So, what's your gap? How do you measure against rock star companies? Not just your competition, but the best companies in the world that are creating new levels of customer expectations. Here's your goal: be the company that creates the gap. In other words, be so good that you are the company all others aspire to emulate. I know, it's a big goal. How can you compare yourself to Amazon, Apple, Ritz-Carlton, and other iconic service-focused brands? You absolutely can! Become the Ritz-Carlton of your industry. Set the bar high and the gap between what your customers expect and what you deliver gets smaller. Create the smallest gap you can between what your customers expect and what you deliver and the biggest gap between what your competitors deliver and what you deliver.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXX, Shep Hyken)

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