“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” While plenty of people may live by these words, none of them are in the business of delivering exceptional customer experiences. Ensuring customer satisfaction means taking a critical eye to the status quo, harnessing the power of data, and driving process efficiencies, both with customer interactions and all work behind the scenes. But how, exactly, does contact center management help a team of agents enhance its performance to achieve next-level CX? Gap analysis.
Gap Analysis 101
With gap analysis, a proven business tool, organizations review today’s performance, outline tomorrow’s goals, and determine what actions must be taken to accomplish those goals. Essentially, gap analysis is about “bridging the gap” from current, less-than-optimal performance to an ideal future state of operation.
4 Types of Gap Analysis
While the principles of gap analysis remain the same, there are four different types of gap analysis businesses often use. We’ve classified these as the four Ps of gap analysis:
In this most common application of gap analysis, actual performance is compared to expected performance, enabling companies to see what goals have been met and what needs to be done to accomplish any outstanding goals.
This type of gap analysis is also known as a strategy gap analysis, where gaps between company mission and objectives are identified. Like a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, performance gap analysis pinpoints any threats to the success of the business.
With this type of gap analysis, businesses compare actual sales to budgeted sales to identify areas of greater sales potential where demand currently outpaces supply. It allows businesses to take a proactive look at the marketplace and ensure any unexpected changes don’t derail strategy.
When actual profits don’t meet projected profits, companies can conduct a profit gap analysis to help determine why and where they got off track and avoid making any similar missteps in the future.
Also called HR gap analysis, this type of gap analysis helps management assess team size and skill set to make staffing and budget decisions. As a result, changes and improvements to hiring processes, onboarding, and training can be made.
Conducting a Gap Analysis: Getting to Your Ideal State
No matter the type of gap analysis you’re carrying out, each follows the same four-phase process.
Phase 1: Review how you’re doing today
To get started, you need to decide which type of gap analysis you’re performing. Remember, most companies conduct a performance gap analysis, taking a look at actual versus expected performance. It’s important to be sure you know exactly what you’re assessing and how you’re doing so.
For example, a contact center looking to complete a performance gap analysis may decide to assess a specific agent workflow or overall inbound CX performance. Both could benefit from analysis, but different metrics and data may be reviewed. In the case of assessing a workflow, you may consider reviewing training documentation and established processes. In assessing inbound CX performance, you may take average handle time and customer feedback surveys into consideration.
Phase 2: Determine where you want to be tomorrow
Next, decide what success looks like for you in the future. What are your business goals, broadly and specifically? Solidifying your objectives enables you to create a thoughtful, realistic plan of action.
Bringing this back to inbound CX, a contact center team may decide it would like to improve overall customer satisfaction ratings by 10% or expand access to customer support through an omnichannel approach.
Phase 3: Pinpoint the gaps between current and ideal performance
Now, it’s time to identify your opportunities for improvement. After a thorough review of current performance and ideal operations, gaps become apparent. It’s critical to not simply notice the gaps but to dig deeper to understand why they exist.
What if you don’t see any gaps and you’re already reaching performance targets? Gap analysis can still be useful. There’s always room for improvement and greater agility in CX. Plus, taking time to understand why you’re succeeding can help you plan for the future and more easily adapt to changes in customer preferences and needs to continue delivering CX that wows.
Phase 4: Build your action plan
Ready to get creative? In this final gap analysis phase, you work to find solutions that will bridge the gaps. Drawing on insights gained from the previous phases, you can begin brainstorming possible solutions. Be sure to keep them specific and actionable, allowing you to create and implement a useful plan. Great ideas don’t happen in a vacuum. Bring in other key team members to work together to generate a list of plausible solutions.
When brainstorming your solutions, be sure to consider important factors, like cost, time, and resources needed to implement each solution. This may allow a select few solutions to rise to the top of the list.
3 Common “Gaps” in Contact Centers
With a goal to improve agent workflows to drive CX, here are few gaps keeping contact centers from realizing their potential.
For a variety of reasons—from multiple technologies that aren’t integrated into a single platform to lack of reporting and documentation—data can go uncaptured and underused in contact centers. While most companies recognize the need to gather, interpret, and gain insights from customer data, not all are taking full advantage of the data that could inform their success and customer satisfaction.
As with any profession, burnout is a risk. Agents are often considered high-risk for burnout. Prioritizing your agents’ wellbeing and empowerment can lead to enhanced productivity and improved customer interactions. Simply taking the time to acknowledge excellent performance or ask for feedback not only shows that leadership truly cares about its team, but it also incentivizes agents to keep up the good work or boost their performance, which, in turn, improves CX.
Inadequate agent training
Knowledge is power. A highly trained agent committed to continual learning is a powerful CX force. Training begins at onboarding but certainly shouldn’t stop there. Ongoing education is essential to efficiency, especially when adopting new technologies or tools. The latest process improvement solutions only work when implemented and used properly. Developing learning materials and references can help agents sharpen their skills. Offering a variety of learning opportunities, such as one-on-one discussions or team-based training games, allows agents to absorb new information and processes in the way that’s best for them.
Remember, Improvement is Ongoing
Conducting one gap analysis isn’t the most effective use of this proven tool. The solutions you implement should be evaluated to see what’s working and what’s not. You may need to make adjustments or rethink approaches all together. Performing this process only one time isn’t how you identify gaps in your agent workflows and optimize performance. You should be conducting a gap analysis time and again to get closer to your goals and even exceed them.