Moments Of Truth

My sympathies go out to Elana at Forrester who had her wallet stolen recently. She recounts her experience on her blog.

Her prescriptions to financial services firms are right on. Here’s what I’d add:

Financial services firms must identify the moments of truth.”

Customer loyalty to financial firms is driven by the stories customers tell themselves (not just the “authentic” stories marketers tell customers). These stories are born out of the high-emotion interactions that customers have with their financial providers — what McKinsey refers to as “moments of truth.”

What the firms Elana dealt with failed to recognize was that reporting a lost or stolen card is a highly emotional situation. One that warrants special treatment.

If any of them had immediately put her through to a human who said “I will personally handle your situation, and help you through this”, she would have glowed about its service. She’d believe that that firm was truly different. Most importantly, it would become a “story a loyal customer tells”.

But none of the firms did this. They didn’t recognize a moment of truth.

Identifying the moments of truth isn’t rocket science. Market research can help you determine which interactions have a higher emotional impact than others. Simple common sense can help, too. Which is probably why Elana said that becoming customer-centric isn’t THAT hard.

Update: For further discussion on this, see this post on Analytical Engine.

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7 thoughts on “Moments Of Truth

  1. Re: “Identifying the moments of truth isn’t rocket science.”

    I read Elana’s post and cringed. Unfortunately I disagree with the rocket science premise. It actually is rocket science. The person on the phone is handling a multitude of different requests from customers, each requiring that the employee access different systems on their desktop.

    This is in small part reflective of my much stated belief that the technology is a large part of the problem.

    Consider, as Elena suggests, that we somehow motivate the CSR on the phone to ensure a seamless answer to Elena. The reality is that the information necessary to deal with that is not available to the CSR. He/she can be as polite and seamless in her comments as expected, but she cannot complete the process.

    So, why not fix that you say…. well that takes us back to my point, that the problem lies in the technology. That problem lies in the disparate systems, that are the unfortunate legacy of all Banks. Its really hard to present multiple processes, based on different systems, and different decision management processes, to each employee. Not impossible, just really hard (translate – expensive)

    Yes becoming customer centric is really hard … otherwise I suspect smart companies such as American Express would have done so.

    Phew! one of these days, someone will find that there is way to do this relatively inexpensively.

  2. Colin — I must be missing something. What’s so hard about setting up a special toll free number to call for customers who have their card stolen? It may be expensive, but if it’s truly a “moment of truth” it might be worth the investment.

  3. Ron you have brought up a very interesting subject. There really are two areas that a credit union maintains, one for the financial transactions, the other information about the person themselves (in past times this was the file folder in the filing cabinet). It seems our systems are built for the first with some negligible consideration for the second. This has been a real problem when dealing with people and the exceptions that are always created. Can a banking system do both? I don’t think so. Colin points that out. There are ways and we have been trying a few, some with more success than others. It really revolves around the end user, how do they input and access information that is usually subjective and can’t always be standardized. This is more an art than a science.
    On your question about setting up a number for stolen cards. It is pretty simple but you need to get your mind around what the ‘experts’ are telling you to do. And everyone is waiting for the easiest and cheapest way to do it which means they really haven’t done much about it, yet.

  4. Thanks for weighing in here, Gene. To me, I see this as more of a “process design” issue than purely a database or application systems issue.

  5. I blogged in response to Elena too – – as I think the problem is partly identifying the moments of truth, partly deciding to do something about them and partly making sure that the systems your customers use and your CSRs use have the ability to take smart decisions. I also presented in a similar vein at a Teradata conference once –

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