The concept of "moments in truth" in business was made famous by the CEO responsible for turning around the fortunes of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in the 1980's, Jan Carlzon.

Jan championed a process of identifying all points of contact between a customer and a business, and that each of these were a "moment of truth".  It would only take one poor experience in the whole chain of interactions to colour the experience in a negative way.  This harmful interaction may be one that could be considered as insignificant, for example, how many rings before a phone is answered?

Jan's process worked on ensuring that every interaction was positive for the customer – adding up to an all-round great experience.  He must have been successful as the company survived a near death experience to become very profitable.

We believe this is a relevant concept today, and spend time each year revisiting the moments of truth for our clients, and working to make them more positive and rewarding.

A recent personal experience with SAS has shown some danger areas that may not always be apparent.  To cut a long story short:

SAS managed to lose my wife's baggage in Paris.  This is not unusual in the industry, but the moment of truth arose in how the issue was dealt with.  Like many businesses, SAS have outsourced some activities, including the lost baggage process.  The outcome was:

  • The bags were not delivered when they advised they would be
  • There was no possible way of contacting either SAS or the outsourced provider.  Neither would answer the telephone numbers provided despite hundreds of attempts by us
  • The SAS complaint process via their website responds with, "we will try and contact you within six weeks".  A little long when you are travelling!
  • They basically do not respond to claims for compensation

I could go on – but you get the picture.

So, it would seem that the concept of "moments of truth" requires continual vigilance and refreshing, along with the understanding that you outsource your reputation at the same time as the process – a danger to be alert to.

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