Creating Outstanding Customer Service Levels To Obliterate The Competition
In 1987 Jan Carlzon, the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, wrote the book, ‘Moments Of Truth’. It explained how he took the airline from deficit to profit by ‘moving’ the airline to a customer-focused organisation.
Now, as you know, there have been many books written on customer service, but where this book and Carlzon’s strategies really differ is his focus on each interaction the customer has with the business.
He calls these ‘Moments of Truth’ and, of course, each interaction can be a positive or a negative experience.
Scandinavian Airlines prospered because they worked very hard to make sure each Moment Of Truth with their customers was a very positive experience, and the results they achieved were a testament to this.
Little did Carlzon know that with Moments Of Truth he created, in my opinion, arguably the best, easiest and most amazing customer service system ever devised!
Take a look at the diagram opposite. It shows how at each contact (Moment Of Truth) you need to ensure each interaction is a favourable one for the customer.
So a Moment Of Truth is an interaction between the business and the prospective customer, client or patient.
It’s called a Moment Of Truth because, irrespective of the type of interaction that occurs (meeting, letter, phone call, e-mail, etc.), the outcome can either be a positive or a negative experience for the prospect or the client.
What continues to surprise me is how few businesses use Moments Of Truth or similar strategies to ‘WOW’ their customers or prospective customers.
Think about your own experiences with other businesses—from a business perspective or simply as a normal consumer. Think back over the last ten years or so and try to pinpoint an interaction that occurred between you and a business where you said to yourself, ‘WOW, that was amazing’.
So where and when should you be looking to implement Moments Of Truth in your business? That’s easy. Look at all your interactions with your customers, clients or patients and for each single interaction write down what you could do to make them think ‘WOW’ or at least make them think ‘that was impressive’.
Once your team grasp the concept of Moments Of Truth, they too will come up with even better ways to create WOWs for your customers. But like everything, you have to implement—otherwise you’ll never get the results you deserve
Now I’d like to finish this article by giving you one of the best examples I’ve ever seen regarding Moments Of Truth.
I’ve taken it from a book I recommend titled ‘How To Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive’ by Harvey MacKay.
When I read this, I thought it was the perfect remedy for any of our clients who didn’t feel Moments Of Truth would work for them, or felt they were too difficult to implement. It’s a short story of how a cab/taxi driver has implemented Moments Of Truth in his business and the effect they have had on it. Read this very carefully.
It’s full of nuggets you can use right now in your business…
Harvey was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine.
Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and freshly pressed black trousers, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey.
He handed Harvey a laminated card and said: “I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.” Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: ‘Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.’
This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!
As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” Harvey said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.”
Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.”
Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.” Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.” As they were pulling away, Wally handed Harvey another laminated card.
“These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.”
And, as if that wasn’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.
Then Harvey said, “Tell me, Wally, have you always served customers like this?” Wally smiled into the rear-view mirror.
No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do.
“Then I decided to do things differently. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”
“I take it that has paid off for you?” Harvey said. “It sure has,” Wally replied. “In my first year I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it, and I take a piece of the action.”
Wally was implementing Moments Of Truth, even though he didn’t realise it! With just a few changes to the way he worked—and, more importantly, the way every other taxi cab driver/firm worked —Wally transformed his business.
This true story demonstrates that if Moments Of Truth can be so successful for a taxi driver, it can work for any type of business – ESPECIALLY YOUR BUSINESS.