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How is Your “Moment of Truth”?

A moment of truth is the interaction between the customer and the customer service provider which leaves a lasting impression on the customer…positive or negative! 

Business is built on the premise that good systems and processes, the capacity to deliver a product or service repeatedly, consistently without fail are required to produce a profit. Indeed, it’s a perfectly sound premise to run a business in this manner. After all, how long would your business last if it lacked systems and a procedure for handling every conceivable interaction with a customer?

There is little doubt that good processes are important; but don’t let them get in the way of building customer relationships and loyalty. The moment of truth can have ramifications: it can be a win or a loss for a business.

Consider the simple exercise of seeking customer service from your bank. Today, banks, telcos, large membership organisations such as health funds and insurers, have customer contact systems. Voice-activated contact systems have become communications technology’s answer to cost effective customer service. Indeed, most systems are designed to NOT have you speak to anyone.

The voice promoted options are designed to navigate you to the appropriate, digitally operated response system. Most of the time this is fine: you want to pay a bill, you want to transfer some money are made easy by the systems. All contact centres have automatic, voice activated telecoms system’s today: it saves money.

However, there about a 50-50 chance that when you need a special request, for example, adding a new contact name to your business credit card, you’ll experience frustration. At best you’ll end up hanging off the phone for an inordinate amount of time; at worst you’ll be told that the person at the other end is not authorised to handle that matter and would need to ‘hand ball’ you on to another contact centre person. You pull your hair out in despair. More often than not you’ll be required to email your request to – you guessed it – another automated response system! The outcome; a moment of truth.

Most professionals and business owners have little need for contact centres but all have a need to ensure consistent, superb customer service. The automated contact centre of today is a salutory lesson for business owners. To be successful in business, you must have processes – your own way of doing things that is tried, tested and constantly updated based on feedback.

Back in the 1980s Swedish Airline SAS group made a name for itself in the customer service ‘hall of fame’ by empowering all its airline staff to ensure customer satisfaction each and every time they made contact with a customer. The intention was to make the contact point THE moment of truth because it was there and then that the impact is most greatly felt – and remembered.

If for example a passenger wanted a particular meal altered, rather than a staff member saying I’m sorry, you can have chicken or beef, but not vegetarian; the response would be “Yes. Just leave it with me.”

It worked well and they built a reputation so passengers made them their airline of choice.

A business needs to train and empower each and very person who has contact with customers to be in a ‘can do’ state of mind. That will not diminish the strength of robust systems and procedures where processes and a routine way of suing things are adhered to, but it is that exceptional moment, the time when a business can make the most impact on a customer – the moment of truth – that will be what the customer takes away with them.

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