Moments of Truth Make Big Differences in Customer Experience


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Author Note: This post originally appeared in the Adobe Experience Delivers blog. You can find it here. This version has some updates and new ideas.

One of the things that seems to come up in conversations about customer experience is concern about where to start. At the same time, people wrestle with how much focus to put on CX if it is not viewed as core strategic priority for the business. While being systematic and consistently delivering great experiences can be challenging, that is not where you have to start. Instead focus on little things, and even small changes can make a big difference in how customers perceive your company (and you if you are on the front lines). A great way to think of these things are as “Moments of Truth”—a term I first heard years ago when working with the Patricia Seybold Group. Patty and team constantly reminded me that everything does not matter—what matters are the make or break moments where you can make a customer happy or tick them off; create a positive memory or a negative one; do what’s right or follow the rules. These are the “Moments of Truth” that can set you apart in the minds of your customers.

Sometimes, Moments of Truth can be found in little things that make the big impacts. I like to group them into three categories:

  • Time Savers
  • Extras
  • Honesty

Time savers may be the most important, particularly in business to business environments. They can also be applied to interactions you have within your company. Everyone is overburdened with too much to do, too much to read, and too little time. Adrian Ott likes to talk about theInattention Economy, a very real phenomenon as we continue to be deluged with information (or is it just noise). Greg Satell talks about saving time via using familiar designs that don’t make people have to think (make it obvious rather than just intuitive). If you save people time, they will take notice and remember you and your business. Its an opportunity for a big win. Here are a few simple time saving tips that people will thank you for:

  • Instead of passing a link saying “good read”, include a brief description of what was great about the story, telling why you think its valuable. Do the same with your email subject lines.
  • If you have multiple documents to share and you have Adobe Acrobat, create a PDF porfolio that organizes all of them into a collection with notes from you on why the articles are great. Its easier to manage one file than multiple ones.
  • For customers, pre-fill forms with information that you already know about them (and they willingly share with you). Hide fields that are irrelevant to their situation.
  • Pursue simplication relentlessly. Don Norman in his book “The Design of Everyday Things” talks about banishing the words “user error” from our vocabulary. His premise is that user error means there was faulty design. Can you make things so easy that user errors never occur?

Extras are particularly important in consumer markets. In New Orleans, there is a term for “a little something extra”–Lagniappe. Jack Campisi and Stan Phelps have a site called Marketing Lagniappe where they are crowdsourcing stories of of extras that companies provide to make themselves standout with their customers. They describe the 5 ingredients of langniappe as Relevant, Unexpected, Limited, Expression, and Sticky. The goal, in my opinion, is to create an emotional connection with the customer by taking an extra step to show you value their business. Some of my ideas on time savings could be considered lagniappe. Others may be unique ways you deliver service (which may come to be expected from your business, but are valued as long as no one else does it as well as you). Check the marketing lagniappe site out for lots of interesting ideas and start thinking of the little things you and your business can do to show your customers you value them.

Honesty applies in all circumstances. I struggled with the right word to use here, considering things like transparency, but felt honesty is the simple word that describes the ideal state. It sounds trite, but many businesses and people find it hard to be open and direct when things don’t go right, myself included. I’ve talked in other posts about the trust issues facing businesses–customers trust information from peers much more than what comes from a business. We’ve seen examples where Tylenol and Domino’s have used honesty to address situations where they made mistakes and come back stronger. Honesty comes in a lot of forms. Its means admitting mistakes. It means not trying to sell customers things they don’t need or want through shady tactics. Its about not manipulating users, as this post from Rian van der Merwe describes. It is about transparency. Honesty can also drive more direct language (which also saves time!). It really is about creating an open collaborative environment with your customer that is truly about doing what is right for them and good for your business. There will always be things that you can not, and should not share, but hiding things that impact the customer and that they may discover later through other sources is a recipe for destroying trust and relationships.

All three of these approaches create emotional connections. Customers and peers appreciate the time savings, extras, and honesty that you share with them. Many of them are not hard to do or costly. As you think about improving customer experiences, make sure you focus on the little things and creating positive Moments of Truth. Doing so should certainly help you create more advocates in your customer base.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Hank Barnes
Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies--particularly around marketing, positioning, and customer experience--for technology providers. Hank has more than 25 years of high-technology sales and marketing experience in both field and corporate roles, both as an individual contributor and the marketing leader for several startups. He is a long-time proponent of customer-centric marketing and the use of customer experience as a key differentiator for business success. His posts here include content from his days with Adobe, SAP, and now Gartner


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