Moments of Truth in the Customer Experience

Roger McCoy.jpgEach customer contact is composed of decision points where the customer relationship can be enhanced or diminished. 

Each point may just take a “moment”, but they combine to determine whether the customer had a valuable experience with the company.  In sum, these Moments of Truth lead to a commitment for continued contact, or convince the customer they want no further activity with your firm. 

There are many factors that go into a company’s success or failure.  This is a discussion of one of the most important factors; providing a predictable, exceptional customer experience through contact with your employee team.

Do you control your moments?

Have you broken down the important steps franchise employees have with their customers and documented the best possible actions, feelings, and words that should be taken to enhance each experience – each Moment of Truth?  You may offer exciting products and services, or sophisticated technical skills or tools.  But the perceived value of what you offer the customer can be reduced to zero by the wrong thing said or action taken during a contact with your customer.

Most companies have determined the cost of acquiring a new customer, and it’s typically very high.  Once you’re in contact, you need to ensure nothing is done to prevent the retaining of that customer.  It is typically hard to gain customers, but very easy to lose them.  We need to ensure our employees take the right customer-facing actions.

Your Franchise Model

Does your Franchise Model clearly detail the customer experience that will enhance the customer relationship?   I expect many of yours do.  But if not, that should be a priority for your near future.  A predictable, exceptional customer experience is your goal.   And that can only be reliably achieved if your team understands the value of these Moments and understands how best to enhance them.  Relying on each team member to use their “best judgement” in the customer contact experience provides unpredictable behaviors and results.

Along with offering the enhancement model, the franchisor should take actions to ensure that it’s being used and prescribed practices followed.   A typical franchise system has thousands of employees, continually having experiences in the name of the franchise.  Can they each be trusted to behave for the benefit of the franchisor without a clear, understandable experience model available, trained, and enforced for the betterment of all, including the customer?

We’re not talking about creating “robots” reciting trained scripts and procedures.  Instead it’s providing a flexible structure of concepts and actions that free the team member to customize the experience within set guidelines and personalize the experience, while ensuring all key steps are completed.  The personality of the team member must come through to allow the creation of trust and rapport required for a positive customer experience.

A training exercise

When I visit franchisees, I will frequently offer training for their employees.   As part of an exercise to reinforce previous training, the team will generate a list of our Moments of Truth that make up our customer service experience. I’ll moderate as the team helps me list these steps and I’ll ensure nothing is overlooked.  This exercise has training reinforcement value itself.  But then we’ll get down to the real value of the session. 

I then break the team into groups and assign Moments to each group.  Each group will then be given time to list what behaviors or actions go into getting the most out of each Moment.  Then together we’ll review the findings of each group.  As expected, they list many of the steps that are part of the franchise model.  Other groups will fill in the steps that may have been missed.  And the entire process is reinforced for the team.  It’s proven to be a useful exercise.

And occasionally something extraordinary happens.  A group will offer an additional step or a step enhancement to improve the franchise model.  We’ve found the most exciting ideas come from the field.  This is a method to reinforce and enhance our model.

Your competitive advantage…

Your Franchise Model is a description of who you are and how you differ from the rest of the marketplace.  You can’t depend upon each franchisee employee to make their best effort  to maintain the integrity of the model.  There must be a “road map” the employee follows consistent with the underlying franchisor’s intent.

If you have a customer experience model, make sure you train and enforce it.  If you don’t have a model, develop one that will provide you confidence that your entire organization’s team members are consistently providing their customers predictable and valuable Moments of Truth.

Roger McCoy is a Franchise Business Consultant for a national home services provider.  Roger has held management and ownership positions in the home services industry since 1994, the last 13 have been in franchising.  He is a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE), has a Texas HVAC contractor’s license, and is a US Army Veteran. He is currently working toward his PhD in Management.