Who is Accountable for the “Moments of Truth” of the Customer Experience?

You can begin creating accountability for operational metrics by consistently defining the customer experience. It’s likely as you travel through your organization that if you can ask three people to define the stages of your customer experience, you’ll get three different answers. Not only will the answers be different; the interpretation won’t even mean the same to all three.

The first job here is to define the customer experience in stages that characterize the customer relationship with you. (See Customer Experience Competency #1 – Company Wide Alignment around Experience )

Once the customer experience is defined, get granular on the contact points.

From my early days doing this work, I have used the discipline of defining these contacts as the “moments of truth” of the customer experience. The “moments of truth” were established when Jan Carlzon was CEO of SAS airlines and the airline was facing losses of $20 million after seventeen consecutive years of profitability. He came up with them as a way to elevate the purpose of the business and the importance of each individual moment with customers. He catapulted the company to profitability in part by focusing on identifying and taking accountability for the delivery of the moments of truth.

Carlzon defined moment of truth in this way:
“Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression.”

This logic holds true today because the discipline required to identify each contact point forces an understanding of what you want to deliver to customers at that contact point and what it will take to deliver it. The process of defining the moments of truth is a great inclusive exercise to bring the company together. Once you’ve got the stages of the experience defined and everyone agrees, hold a brainstorming session to frame out the moments of truth.

Once you have established the moments of truth, you identify the priority contacts. Understand the critical customer-facing contact points or moments of truth that make or break it for customers. Sometimes a way to classify customer contacts is to identify four categories of these occurrences:

  1. Rescuing a customer in distress
  2. Revenue building to increase the sale of goods or services
  3. Responding to a customer request
  4. Relationship building contact to strengthen the customer bond

We did this exercise with a pharmaceutical company for one segment of its customers. It was a great way to approach the contacts for this segment because it aligned marketing, operations, IT, the call centers, and the regions around clarifying what they could deliver in a consistent way. We created a series of contacts called “triggers” to define the contacts that should happen to give a comprehensive experience. They were numerous and way too many to execute. But we overlaid the four categories noted above on the contact totals and were able to identify the top ten contacts to make for this customer segment. This gave us a good first list of tactics and actions in building the relationship with them. It drove how we initiated the relationship, what data we needed to service them, and how to track the renewal of their account. Doing this kickstarted a consistent approach for managing the customer relationship.

Canvass your moments of truth to understand where they fall in the categories. You will need some quantitative and qualitative research validating the priority contacts for relationship and long- term revenue generation here.

Gut is important: there are some things you’ll want to do because those contacts are a big part of delivering the passion of your brand. But make sure that you know the customer perspective. Make sure that the important things are known and that you can identify which ones you need to get right every time.

Once you have a list of the priority contacts, the challenge is to develop what the ideal customer experience should be for them. This is an unnatural exercise, as it will require multiple silos to work together to define, develop, and execute the end-to-end experience. Your research will help you validate the metrics you need to measure within each contact.

1 comment to " Who is Accountable for the “Moments of Truth” of the Customer Experience? "

  • i think that as part of these exercises there should be a high priority placed on aligning the brand messaging to the experiences. While, in most cases, the changes required will be on the experience side of the equation in some cases you will find that the brand messaging is promising something that either the company cannot deliver or the customer doesn’t want or need. This means that the messaging has to change! When the organization reaches this level of maturity then it starts to actually become customer-centric.

    Thanks for this post – thought provoking.

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