Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Winning the moments of truth, part of Innovative Customer Service Techniques.
- What do customers remember about the service they receive? There are really just three key moments. Collectively, they are known as the moments of truth. If you can win these three moments, your customers will have a postive perception of the service you provide. The moments of truth are the first impression, the peak impression and the last impression. The first impression is the first thing a customer experiences. The peak impression is the experience that's most different from the norm. And the last impression is the last thing a customer experiences.
Let's take a closer look at each moment of truth, and how that can influence a customer's perception of the service they receive. We'll start with first impressions. A great first impression creates a positive memory. If the rest of a customer's experiences are neutral, that customer will feel they have received great service. That's because neutral experiences aren't memorable, but positive experiences are. Let's say an insurance agent receives a call from a potential new customer. He creates a great first impression by building a rapport with the customer and then using his product knowledge to show that customer how to save money on her car insurance.
This would create a great first impression, even if the customer just renewed her insurance once a year and never used it, she'd probably remember her positive first impression of the agent. The opposite is also true. A poor first impression creates a lasting negative memory. If the rest of a customer's experiences are neutral, they'll likely think your service is terrible because it's the negative experience that sticks in their mind. If the insurance agent blew it on the first impression, he might never get another chance.
A great peak impression can work the same way as a first impression. Remember, the peak impression is the experience that's the biggest difference from the norm. Let's say the insurance agent has a customer who was involved in a minor car accident. That's an unusual situation for the customer, so how the agent handles the situation will be that customer's peak impression. If the insurance agent treats the customer with empathy and handles the claim quickly, the customer will probably have a strong, positive memory of their overall experience with the agent.
On the other hand, if the agent takes too long to handle the claim or doesn't make the customer feel cared for, that customer will have a very negative impression of the agent. They might even find themselves shopping for a new insurance agent after the claim is handled. Finally, there are last impressions. This is the last contact your customer had with you or your company. Once again, a great last impression will create an overall positive perception of your service. For the insurance agent, it might just be the occasional call from a customer who has a question. Of course, a poor last impression can create an overall negative perception of your service.
The insurance agent might be rude to a customer over the phone one day, and create a lasting negative memory of his service that will be hard to undo. Now that we've gone over the three moments of truth, I invite you to think of ways you can create an outstanding impression for each one. Remember, the goal is to do something unexpectedly positive for a first, peak and last impression so your customer will remember you. You can download the moments of truth worksheet to record your ideas or just use a blank piece of paper. I'd like to share one last tip with you.
Poor impressions can and will happen. And outstanding experience right after a poor one actually creates a very positive peak impression. So the key to recovering from a poor impression is to over-recover. As a final exercise, think about some typical problems your customers might experience. How can you over-recover from this situation to create an outstanding peak impression? Many people know that exceeding customer's expectations is a good idea. You can take your service to the next level if you can specifically target the three moments of truth.
- Identifying the most important customer need
- Making wait time more bearable
- Improving your power of observation
- Avoiding directed attention fatigue
- Increasing teamwork