I remember when I last bought a washing machine. I bought mine from John Lewis. It was an interesting experience. I couldn’t take it away with me because the car wasn’t big enough so they had to deliver it. Which meant that I paid them several hundred pounds and all I got in return was a piece of paper. And their promise to deliver the machine the following week….provided that there was someone at home and they could get access etc etc.
Now I know that JL is a trusted brand but on my way home I began to question whether I’d done the right thing. Perhaps we wouldn’t be in when they called. Perhaps I should have bought a different machine. Perhaps I could have got a better price elsewhere. And the more time elapsed, the more uncomfortable I became.
You see when you buy a washing machine what you’re really paying for is years and years of having your clothes washed for you. It’s a truly wonderful appliance which will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of hours over the course of its life. And if you don’t believe me think back to the last time you went travelling with a rucksack and had to wash your clothes by hand.
But when I’d just paid for my washing machine I had yet to see any of that benefit. All I had was a piece of paper and a promise to deliver in a few days’ time. So I began to suffer buyer’s remorse.
That moment when I paid over the money is known in the world of Customer Service as a Moment of Truth. A Moment of Truth is a time in a business relationship when emotions are running particularly high. The moment a sale is agreed is a classic Moment of Truth. As is the time when money changes hands. And another is when something goes wrong and a customer makes a complaint. These are the times when it really counts to impress your customers with your service.
Now my washing machine is getting quite old (it’s probably time I bought a new one that’s more energy efficient) and expect John Lewis have changed their practices since the time I’m talking about. But if JL had handed me a piece of paper saying that I could return the machine if I didn’t like it when it arrived, or if they had written me a nice letter or even if they’d handed me a chocolate I would have felt differently about my purchase. I would have left feeling much more comfortable.
So it’s worth spending some time asking yourself what are the Moments of Truth in your business. And making sure that you’re doing something to wow your customers when it really counts. If you do this you’ll have customers for life.