The concept of a moment of truth for a company changes over time as consumer sales change. The idea first started in the 1980s with Scandinavian Airlines executive Jan Carlzon. Since then, many companies have tried to emulate his passion for how customers form impressions about companies, products and services.
Carlzon's moment of truth said that any time a customer interacts with a company, that person forms an impression in his mind. Procter & Gamble, in 2005, expanded the paradigm to three tenets of sales. The customer starts by looking at a product, then the person purchases the product and finally he provides feedback. Thanks to the Internet and e-commerce, Google added a fourth precept in 2011 by stating the "zero moment" is when a consumer researches the item online before seeing the actual product. Consumers search websites, read reviews and perform due diligence before they see the product and get to the Buy button.
In 2014, Eventricity touted its "less than zero moment of truth" by stating that event occurs when something happens in a consumer's life that makes him start to research a product. This event could be huge, such as a having a baby or replacing an old car, or even mundane, such as a broken plate or running out of laundry soap. In 2016, Amit Sharma, the CEO of Narvar, has a different take on consumer sales.
Sharma, who has experience running logistics divisions for Wal-Mart and Apple, states that the actual moment of truth occurs in between someone clicking the Buy button and when the product arrives in the consumer's hands. Sharma believes the problem with most e-commerce retailers lies in how sellers handle that gap. What happens if the shipment arrives late because of the third-party carrier that fails to deliver the package on time? Does the carrier lose business, or does the impression of the retailer take a hit?
The problem is that the shipping snafu does not necessarily come from a retailer's branded experience. On-time results from logistics companies have nothing to do with the quality of a product, the price of an item or the ease with which someone buys a product. However, customers may still form an opinion based on the logistics experience of purchasing a great product.
How to Handle the Gap
If something goes wrong on the shipping side of things, hopefully the retailer steps up, apologizes and tries to make up for the experience. The customer service agent cannot control a person's emotions, but the retailer can control how it reacts to a negative experience. The new moment of truth happens when a customer service rep, sales clerk or manager finds ways to add value to someone's purchase beyond just an email confirmation and a tracking number that says the package is on the way.
While a customer waits, agents can request feedback about the buying experience. A quick survey could produce a discount towards the next purchase. A sales team can send links to how-to videos with tips on how to assemble or use the product.
Leveraging the gap becomes the moment of truth, and a distinct advantage, for e-commerce retailers. The gap gives companies a chance to add value to a purchase while helping to maintain a loyal customer base.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net