by Vidya Priya Rao, CustomerThink
A car cannot drive on its own and reach the destination until we check there is no flat tire, there is sufficient fuel, we wind up the keys, and drive prudently when there is a speed bump, apply brakes and so on. Similarly, for the customer to move from point A to point B in their decision-making journey to buy our product, we need to identify and remedy the friction points in the purchase path, we need to engage and provide appropriate inputs at the make or break relationship building points.
This moment of truth is the promise a customer can relate to your brand; it is the assurance that you will “show up” or “come over” to address their needs or manage their issues/complaints and not risk disappointment with the outcome. For your business by giving precedence to the customer emotions apart from rationally satisfying their needs, the outcome is a loyal and profitable customer.
Spot moments of truth that matter: a demand for seamless multi-channel experience exists
The former president of Scandinavian SAS Airlines, Jan Carlzon (1986), in his book, Moments of Truth: New Strategies for Today’s Customer-Driven Economy, defines it for business as:
“Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression.”
Your challenge is there is no silver bullet to engage and create an emotional bond with the customer at each interaction. Along the customer journey, your company can have hundreds and thousands of moments of truth across many channels and touchpoints every day. Moreover, in the digital era, the number of interactions is only increasing. Jan Carlzon’s logic still holds true as you need to identify each touchpoint and what it will take to deliver a wow experience.
The moments of truth is unique to every business, and business will have different thresholds. The variables include your business objectives, stage of growth, product/service complexity, customer preferences, channels, touchpoints, integration, people, training needs, attrition, process maturity, regional variations and other factors because this ultimately drives your customer experience initiatives.
To identify, analyze and prioritize and measure the moments of truth, you need to
- understand the brand promise vs. customer experience
- identify things your customer really care about in their formal and informal interactions
- determine the distress and frustration they are grappling which requires immediate attention
- understand the experiences of stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, visitors and so on) other than customers.
It can include:
- calling a friend or surfing the internet via a mobile phone or laptop to explore and learn about a product or service that will address pain points
- the options or variations provided to address problems
- the impression formed after seeing or trying the product/service
- sharing relevant information to the different buyer personas relevant to their role
- a 5 min conversation with the receptionist
- an incorrect advice by a call center executive
- the speed of customer onboarding
- no queue at the cash counter
- delivering a damaged product
- making a return
- ease of redeeming loyalty points and soon.
Analysis and measures: Helps gauge whats working and whats not
Whether the interaction is favorable, met requirement or unpleasant will determine your companies’ relationship with your customers and their perception of the brand.
For example, the speed of handling customer returns for a damaged product delivered is proportional to customer satisfactionand longevity. On the other hand, that customer is at risk, if this takes longer than a certain amount of time or requires extensive follow-up.
Moreover, if your monitor the moments of truth and realize it’s beginning to change, it acts as a notice or warning signal that something is amiss. Maybe your customer needs have evolved, a competitor solution capitalizing on your blindspots, your processes need to change and so on. Before, without the moments of truth approach, you could not know for sure. But, now you will have enough information and a reliable process to begin looking for answers.
Instead of relying on hunches, the moments-of-truth is a proven approach to kickstart your relationship building process with your customers to provide an unforgettable positive experience. While starting, your task is to identify the vulnerable areas prioritize and manage the needs and responses that are critical to both your business and your customer from an exhaustive list of moments of truth. It helps you to focus your resources (people, money and time) on the most relevant touchpoints – not what you might assume that your customers care about.
Like in the book What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, the author Brian Solis, says:
“Businesses must invest in defining not only a positive experience but also a wonderfully sharable one. Doing so influences others to join the fray while offsetting negative inquiries and the damaging viral effects of shared negative experiences.”
Leverage moments of truth: Break the rule when necessary
Moments of truth are full of emotions as its all about the interactions by your customer with a human employee, or technology interfaces like a website, mobile app, chatbots and so on, and it provides many opportunities to engage and build trust. Moreover, as you notice the interactions is designed and controlled by people. By empathizing with the customers, your employees can understand, what they see or hear, how they think, feel or behave and design or redesign the moments of truth and making it interesting and engaging.
Though there are few moments of truth, such as advertisements (billboards, television, radio, newspapers), etc, you do not have a direct controlled other than designing the communication, but you can nevertheless run a beta campaign, gather feedback and make the necessary course corrections before the big-bang rollout.
For interactions at the points of contact that is in your direct control to deliver the right outcome, providing an ultimate customer experience is not always about reading a script from a manual or executing approved decisions. Rather it is breaking the company’s policies or norms to do the right thing at the right time to delight the customer.
Often your customers would have a genuine complaint. It’s just not about fixing the problem but making sure you give them a reason to come back. But, sometimes you may not be at fault, it could be that the customer has a terrible day and taking out their frustrations on you. But, the magic will happen if your employee can turn around the irate customer’s mood.
Take the time to care: Use it to help employees know your customers better
Your customers would like to do business with your organization when they get a feel that you truly care for them and are genuinely interested in making their lives easier. So it’s time to stop looking at your watch and take the time to listen to their problems, ask the right questions, co-create the solution and deliver great experiences.
What matters is that employees should understand their role, take ownership and build their competence to manage these different interactions across multiple channels and touchpoints; with your company creating a motivating environment and sufficient guidance, training and coaching from the leadership team. Imagine that your organization is the stagecoach, people as horses who create the forward movement and leadership team the drivers of the stagecoach. Even if the driver slips and falls, the horses will move, but if something happens to the horse, things will come to a screeching halt. So take care of your employees as they are they ones who take care of your customer.
Manage your Moments of Truth with the enthusiasm and desire to make customers your raving fans. Don’t miss out on the opportunities to provide a fabulous service. Getting it right, will go a long way to increase brand advocacy, enhance profitability, strengthen customer loyalty, and ensure total customer satisfaction.