In a study that our team at FROM ran on insurance customers, the most remembered moments with the most significant impact on the long-term relationship were almost all during crisis incidents—when the customer’s car is totaled or their house is flooded. I recall one customer we spoke with as part of a research study was a fiercely loyal Allstate customer because of a claim experience her parents had 30 years earlier when the customer was a small child.
Not surprisingly, some of the crises that have the greatest impact on the relationship are those that the customer perceives are caused by brands. Canceled flights, data loss from crashed hardware, or salmonella in their sandwich have the potential to be disastrous “moments of truth.”
But curiously, these “screw-ups” also have the potential to become some of the most positive moments in the customer journey, if they’re handled artfully. This usually involves a sincere apology, fixing the problem, and often a gesture of compensation. Academics term this the “service recovery paradox,” and it’s why Ritz Carlton empowers their hotel workers to use their judgment and spend up to $2,000 to solve a customer problem without manager approval.
One last category of “moments of truth” are opportunities to create surprising delight. This means delivering something of value that is unexpected and reflects insight into the customer’s needs.
I once experienced a moment of surprising delight when I was flying out of Newark Airport on United Airlines and sat down to have dinner before my flight at one of the nicer full-service restaurants in the airport. The restaurant had an iPad at every seat and encouraged you to scan your boarding pass so that they could keep you updated regarding your flight departure time.
I scanned my ticket, and in addition to the flight notices, I received a message from United Airlines letting me know that they would be “picking up the check” for my dinner to thank me for my loyal patronage. Triggered by this digital interaction, the waiter then brought over a printed card to this same effect.
Although I was dining in the United Airlines terminal, this restaurant was a seemingly independent steakhouse, not a United Airlines branded club. Such recognition and willingness to seek me out and buy my dinner even when dining at what at least appears to be an independent establishment was an especially unexpected and appreciated surprise.
While I do love getting first-class upgrades and free “frequent flyer” flights from United, frankly, I have come to expect these as “part of the deal,” so, while perhaps more valuable, they don’t necessarily rise to the same level of unexpected delight as this gesture did.
As you review all the innovations and improvements you want to apply to your customer journey, identifying which interactions are significant moments of truth can be helpful criteria to prioritizing where you will get the biggest impact for your investment.
Looking to optimize the key moments of truth in your customer journey? We can help. Book a meeting with our team today