Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Leaders: Are You Maximizing Your Business “Moments of Truth?”

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their family.

~Walt Disney~


In today’s competitive marketplace customers are demanding more for their hard-earned money. Organizations that have failed to meet the expectations of their customers are currently experiencing the impact to their bottom line in the loss of revenue and profits. With so many options available to consumers, organizations cannot afford to take them for granted. Sustainable business success is directly linked to how each organization on a  day to day basis convinces consumers to spend their hard-earned money with them versus their competitors.

 As a business leader, I understand that labor is a controllable expense for most organizations and that it has to be managed to help meet the budgeted manhours for forcasted revenue. I don’t understand why it seems that  so many service businesses aren’t leveraging the data from sales and customer complaints to improve their level of customer service during peak times. In the past 2 years, I have stopped patronizing several businesses because of the inconsistency of service and because their employees seem to be more interested in their conversations with co-workers versus providing customers with attentive and friendly service. I felt as if I was disrrupting them from socializing with their co-workers. Customers  aren't always right, but they should be attended to by management and employees if the business expects to continue to operate and be profitable.

These organizations failed to maximize "moments of truth" with me as their customer.  The management and employees consistently failed to make the connection between excellent customer service, revenue, profits and scheduled labor hours.  Are you losing customers because of a failure on the part of your organization to maximize customers "moments of truth"? As the economy improves, will your business experience a loss in revenue and profits as new businesses committed to providing legendary service take market share from you because your organization took customers for granted during the economic downturn?


Legendary Service and Raving Fans
Ken Blanchard wrote in his best-selling book, Raving Fans, “Having raving fans means that you have achieved the kind of service excellence that turns a customer into a lifetime customer. A raving fan is an advocate of your products or service in the market place.”To create raving fans requires a commitment to legendary service from every member of the staff within your organization.
 Legendary service is the result of an organization developing its leadership capacity and employee engagement at every level.  Engaging the hearts, minds and hands of every staff member towards the company’s objective of exceeding the expectations of its customers at each “moment of truth” results in its customers becoming walking billboards for the brand; customers spread word to friends, family and whoever else that may listen about their service experiences delivered by the staff of the organization.

Former President of Scandinavian Airlines,Jan Carlzon, wrote the book, Moments of Truth.  He defines the “moment of truth” in business as this:  anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression.”  From this simple concept, Jan Carlzon took an airline that was failing at the time and turned it around to be one of the most respected in the industry.

The concept focused on delegating responsibility away from management and allowing customer contact staff to resolve issues on the spot.  The American Management Association in their 75th Anniversary issue called this concept one of the most important developments in management of the 20th Century.


The Impact of Maximizing "Moments of Truth"


Think about each moment that a customer comes in contact with your organization. What are the impressions that customers are receiving as a result of your company's standard of service? If your organization provided legendary service to its customers, day in and out, how would that impact your  company's revenue and profits? How do you think customers would respond? They would rave to their family and friends about the service. They would be happier and more satisfied as a customer of your organization.  They would continue to patronize your organization and encourage their friends and family to do the same.  This would increase your customer base and the opportunity to create more raving fans.  The organization would increase its revenues and profit.  If the growth is sustainable, the company is then able to create growth opportunities for its employees.

Employees, at all levels, who demonstrate their capacity to lead, be the best of the best, and get results would be prime candidates for new opportunities within the organization and/or industry.  An organization’s ability to establish legendary service as its standard benefits from high customer satisfaction and increase revenue and profit, to opportunities for growth and development for its human resources.

 Why Legendary Service Matters


Nelson Boswell stated, “Here is a simple rule but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.”  How does it make you feel when you patronize a business and you receive more than you expected?  Usually, it’s a pleasant surprise.  And because of that “extra” the next time you decide to purchase a similar product or service, you’ll probably consider that business first before all others because of the positive impression you have of your service experience.  Matter of fact, I would bet money that the places that you patronize the most as a customer are due to the service that you receive.  The customers of your organization are no different than you. They want to experience service excellence when they patronize your business.

 As a leader, it’s your responsibility to understand the impact of “moments of truth” within your organization, and assist management and staff by equipping them with the training and tools that empowers them to deliver service that exceeds the expectations of your customers.

When your organization fail to satisfy a customer that customer will tell an average of 10 people about their service or product related frustration.In the context of the explosion of social media sites, the average number of people that your customers can rant to about their service frustrations could swell into the thousands. A few years ago, I witnessed this with one of my Facebook friends who served as a meeting planner for a conference that was held at a Marriott hotel in Charleston.

She communicated her dissatisfaction with the overall service she received at the hotel to 800+ Facebook friends. After reviewing several of the comments from her friends, knowing that she works locally for a major medical insurance company and produces a popular local radio show with professional women as its targeted market, I realized in that moment the power of her circle of influence and how she was using technology to influence other people's perception of this hotel. I am a loyal Marriott fan and a former employee. Yet, as a connoisseur of service excellence, I understand the need to rant when you've given companies opportunities to get it right and they continue to fail at doing so. Technology enable customers to complement businesses, as well as make their grievances known with the goal of influencing other people's perception of your business. Your organization's management and staff should be wise to this fact.

Just as you patronize businesses and seek people whom you trust and respect to do business with, your customers think and behave in the same manner.  Good service is often no longer acceptable by many customers when they have a choice of receiving excellent service from your competitors.  Maximizing “moments of truth” within your organization delivers value to your customers and positions you and your organization for greater growth and opportunity.

It' Your Move ~ Aspire Higher