Gap Analysis: The Backbone of CX Strategy

Once the objectives are clearly spelled out and members of top leadership pledge their hearts to the customer experience (CX) transformation program, the first thing to do is to indulge in a comprehensive gap analysis with all honesty and commitment.

The gap analysis also referred to as as-is analysis is the foundation of any CX strategy and transformation program. A good gap analysis covers the whole organization and takes a holistic view of the company rather than focusing on customer facing departments only. A good gap analysis should do the following:

  1. Provide an honest view of where the company stands on CX
  2. Elaborate on what is being done right, what is being done wrong, and what is being ignored
  3. Calculate the cost to business of having a bad CX or ignoring it altogether
  4. Identify key CX gaps from customers’ as well as from employees’ perspective
  5. Substantiate all findings with qualitative and quantitative data

To achieve these goals it is important to structure the gap analysis in the right way and allow sufficient time and resources to be spent on it. An important factor for gap analysis is its credibility; therefore it is advisable to hire external consultants to conduct the exercise in collaboration with internal employees. To conduct a comprehensive and cross-departmental gap analysis, the following methods/sources can be used.

  • Internal Market Research and Reports

The logical starting point for gap analysis is to have a deep dive into the existing internal market research reports and secondary research data available within the company. All types of market research are important, but of more importance are the market researches concerning customer satisfaction, brand health, mystery shopping, and churn reasons. Usually what one gets from the market research department is the slide deck highlighting the key outcomes of the research. However to have a deep dive, it is worthwhile to ask for raw data for the selected researches in-order to conduct detailed analysis and uncover deeper insights.

  • Customers’ Complaints Data

The second most readily available and directly relevant source of information is customers’ complaints and interactions data. Companies operating in service industry have wealth of such data which is usually under-analyzed. A good idea is to start with whatever classification of customer complaint data is available at hand and then drill down into details by looking at complaints for a chosen time period. Such analysis would uncover the most obvious pain points from customers’ point of view.

  • Internal Interviews

One of the most useful methods of getting insights about real customer experience gaps is interviewing key managers across the organization. From my experience I know that functional managers are already aware of the big customer experience gaps related to their domain of work. An impartial outside consulting team is most suited in this case to conduct internal interviews as managers would feel safer to talk to them as compared to colleagues from some other department.

  • Creating Own Experiences

There is nothing like experiencing the product/service on your own, as a customer, to find what’s working and what’s right. Though it seems intuitive and simplistic, yet this is what most companies and executives often miss when doing gap analysis. The experience should not be limited to only using/consuming the product/service but it should cover all customer touch-points though out the lifecycle of the product/service. It is usually the case that customer experience gap is not in the actual product/service but in another stage of lifecycle such as ‘buying’ or ‘renewing’. Creating own experiences is also a great way of gaining firsthand information and starting off with an unshakable conviction which should help greatly in getting management buy in when results are presented.

Root-cause Analysis

The CX gap analysis often results in hundreds of gaps that the company needs to bridge. However this is where one needs to be vigilant! The gaps identified are not the end result, as they need to be carefully re-analyzed in context of the business and clubbed under root-causes. A root-cause is a systemic flaw deep inside the company that if addressed would result in fixing of multiple gaps. Hence it is important to thoroughly understand the business in-order to conduct an effective root-cause analysis. As a best practice a well-executed root-cause analysis leads to 10 to 1 ratio of gaps versus root-causes. It simply means that a root-cause analysis done well should result in identifying one root-cause for a group of 10 gaps identified. Another benchmark to measure the effectiveness of root-cause analysis is that each root-cause could be addressed with one well defined project.

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