Moments of Truth By Dr. Kevin Lance Jones What are Moments of Truth? Moments of Truth There are companies with very impressive consumer service policies that are not worth the paper on which they are written. The sad fact of the matter is that, in some companies, the Moments of Truth are not managed properly. Moments of Truth – Definition A Moment of Truth is a contract between the company and consumer during which the consumer decides if the company really is consumer oriented. Why is that important? Well, consumers rarely read a company’s customer service policy statement and, even if they did, it would make no difference to their feelings about the company. (Except perhaps inducing some cynicism if policy was clearly being ignored.) So-o-o, the only way a consumer can judge a company is on the basis of contact with it. Moments of Truth – Definition - Cont That contact tends to be at sporadic moments in time, rather than one long continuous interaction and it is during each “moment” that the consumer decides if the company means it! Notice the terminology - Consumers do not hold a balance sheet of your company. They do not say, “Well, I have had five contacts with the company. Two were bad but three have been good, so they must be all right.”. Moments of Truth – Definition - Cont Most consumers are influenced by the most recent contact. If it was bad, they feel negatively about your company, if it was good, they feel positively. Every contact we have with a consumer is an opportunity to undo all the good that previous contacts have built up and maybe lose the customer. Alternatively, if the consumer is still around, it is an opportunity to make up for some bad consumer service in the past. Managing Moments of Truth To manage a Moment of Truth favorably, you need to exhibit three qualities: Care and concern You have to prove to consumers / customers that you do personally value their business and that you are prepared to put yourself out for them, by sorting out complicated arrangements on their behalf, for example. Managing Moments of Truth - Cont Spontaneity Consumers like the people with whom they are dealing to have the authority and use their discretion to make decisions. Words like, “I’m not authorized to deal with that and my supervisor is out at the moment. Can you come back after lunch?” are the kiss of death to consumer / customer satisfaction. Managing Moments of Truth - Cont Recovery Most consumers know that suppliers are people too and understand when things go wrong. If the supplier then tries to ignore the problem, minimize it, pass the buck or blame the consumer, the Moment of Truth has been badly handled. Consumers want the problem resolved quickly and efficiently. If they can see that someone in the company has made a special effort to correct it, they are likely to become more loyal than customers who have never experienced a problem. Moments of Truth - ACTION PLAN * Your actions * Crisis management * Authority levels * Initiative * Recommendations to your manager How to Handle Moments of Truth Companies that handle Moments of Truth well will tend to have the following five (5) characteristics: 1. Performance at every contact point is assessed against the consumers’ criteria. This includes, for example, first impressions of the company building / shop / lounge etc., mailings, standard letters and so on. How to Handle Moments of Truth-Cont 2. Staff who “own the problem” and regard it as their personal responsibility to see that consumers or customers are satisfied. How to Handle Moments of Truth- Cont 3. They have clearly defined and well understood crisis management procedures so that staff know how to handle problems in such a way that the problem is taken from the consumer and replaced with a solution. As one insurance company puts it, if you give them your business they will never make a drama out of a crisis. How to Handle Moments of Truth- Cont 4. Authority levels facilitate spontaneity and recovery. 5. The management style and methods of control encourage staff to use their initiative to serve the company well. Moments of Truth - Conclusions Consumer service survival requires instead of retreating and distancing yourself from the customer: you have to go in the other direction. You have to get even more sincere and authentic than you normally are. The customer wants someone to really listen to him and appreciate his predicament. The customer wants you to do battle for them not against them. That’s the basis for long term successful consumer service: Building the Relationship.
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