In every customer journey, there are interactions that matter more than others. Those moments can cause customers to leave you, or lead to stronger engagement, or make customers more expensive to serve.
We call these key interactions “Moments of Truth,” and identifying them is among the most important findings of journey mapping and other customer experience research.
Why? Because these moments have a disproportionate impact on long-term loyalty and customers’ overall perception of the journey. In short, these moments matter most, and focusing on them makes your experience improvement efforts more cost-efficient and impactful.
Moments of Truth vary between customer segments, but we’ve found they are most likely to occur during these three stages of the journey:
If the beginning goes badly, it may also be the end. That’s just common sense. But the end of the journey holds equal, if not greater, importance.
As Daniel Kahneman found in his Nobel Prize-winning research on memory, endings are one of the key determinants for how positively or negatively we view any given journey, despite what may have happened earlier on. As a result, that lasting last impression can have an inordinately strong impact on whether we’re willing to return to a company for future journeys.
The third stage of a journey likely to hold a Moment of Truth is during a hand-off, which may be rife with pain points for the customer. Companies may aim to provide a seamless experience, but far too many aren’t there yet.
The identification of Moments of Truth is huge, but it is only half of the battle. Solving problems that occur during Moments of Truth in a way that meets your customer’s true needs what leads to success.
Let’s look at some examples:
In many B2B new-customer journeys, the transition from prospect to customer is a critical time, especially when sales is only responsible for bringing in new customers and another department manages existing clients.
Sales sets the customer’s expectations. But when they’re not part of the ongoing relationship, it’s all too easy for those expectations to go unmet. Some fixes our clients have deployed to address this problem include delaying the transition from sales rep to account manager, arranging an internal hand-off meeting where expectations are clearly explained, and creating more effective documentation in the CRM system. (Although getting the sales team to complete that is another issue…)
We worked with a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider that discovered just how important their onboarding process was. Clients who rated onboarding highly were significantly more likely to renew their subscriptions. Those who were not effectively onboarded never fully learned to use the system. As a result, they didn’t realize the positive business impact available through the software, and therefore saw no reason to renew.
We helped a fitness center client discover three personas, including one who is new to health clubs. She joined to help her family get fit, figuring she’d also enjoy the services. The beginning of the journey was a Moment of Truth for her. Because this is the first time that she’s joining a club, she’s overwhelmed by the experience. Our client focused on creating a more personal onboarding experience to lessen her anxiety and help her learn about the options available to her. That client also had their usability group redesign their printed schedule.
Jim Kalbach’s Mapping Experiences features our case study that includes the experience of Newbie Natalie, one of three personas we discovered in the course of our research for a healthcare provider. Natalie is new to the radiology experience, and the way her appointment ends determines whether she will return to our client for future appointments. If she left without understanding what happened and what comes next, her frustration leads her to look for a new provider the next time she needs that service.
Obviously we all want every part of every journey to be perfect. That’s why we do what we do.
But as Winston Churchill put it, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Who among us has the resources, time, and budget to optimize every aspect of every interaction for every customer in every journey?
That’s just not realistic. Nor would the outcome necessarily bring the return on investment we need to show to justify our efforts.
But when we understand which interactions are most critical to customer satisfaction and success, we can direct our attention most efficiently, and prioritize our improvement initiatives in a way that will make the biggest impact.
That’s the key to strengthening customer relationships and building long-term loyalty…and showing results that will turn heads in the C-suite.