Moments of truth are typically associated in marketing as a series of opportunities to ‘stroke’ the customer but what happens when the customer experience is a bad one?
Negative moments of truth can be painful, revealing serious flaws in the business offering but they can also generate insight into how the business is failing to meet customer expectations. Is the business mis-selling products? Does it have departments that drop the ball and treat customers unfairly? Access that insight fast enough and it becomes possible to remediate these issues or to spot wider trends in complaints before they snowball and spill out over social media.
For service-based industries, such as utilities and financial services, moments of truth are typically associated with either the onboarding process or complaints when the customer is seeking resolution or redress.
The first step towards realising these insights is creating a single customer view that can accommodate the numerous channels of communication used by the customer. In a recent example from Harvard Business Review, a pay TV provider found that while feedback on individual services was good, customer churn remained high. The culprit was the cumulative customer experience which saw consumer confidence steadily eroded. Each touchpoint (phone calls, technician visits, emails) eventually leading to customer dissatisfaction. To achieve this single view, data collection from multiple sources must be automated and the business must ensure there aren’t data silos.
In a complaints context, the single customer view is particularly important given the sensitivity of the interaction. It’s a task some industries handle better than others. In the insurance sector, customer correspondence can be notoriously complex due to the supply chain involved (such as insurance brokers, verifiers and suppliers) which complicate the resolution process. For the customer who receives repeat requests for information and who then phones the insurer to try and establish the status of their claim, this comes across as nothing less than a broken service delivery chain, damaging their faith in the ability of the insurer to protect their interests.
Armed with a single customer view, the organisation can instigate the complaint handling process and explore the potential ramifications across the business by identifying the population that may be affected, the potential for redress and the need for remediation.
In instances where it is clear that an issue will affect the wider customer base, a Past Business Review (PBR) may be necessary which will typically require a dedicated team to be set up to review, analyse, and advise on recommendations and improvements. This will examine the products and services in question, set up a case review process to collate and grade customer cases, and identify desirable customer outcomes before embarking on a redress programme. The process then seeks to determine which internal business processes need to be changed to prevent recurrent compliance breaches.
How the business handles a negative moment of truth will determine its ability to not just keep but win future custom. The key here is speed and efficiency. Delivering a swift resolution that accurately deals with the issue will allay customer concerns and provide added reassurance. If the customer doesn’t receive acknowledgement and suitable redress within an acceptable timeframe, their loyalty is lost.
To achieve this speed and efficiency the business needs a scalable resource that can be activated when the need arises. Outsourcing can provide rapid remediation using automation in the form of workflow management systems to manage data and carry out trend analysis. The business can then use these tools to more effectively profile, target, segment, and trace customers to keep populations up to date, improving the effectiveness of the customer contact programme.
Using the remediation process to put the customer first, rather than purely focus on compliance, is a key objective of regulators such as the FCA. Using these ‘moments of truth’ to provide the insight allows the business to refocus and engender trust. By using a customer-centric process the business effectively has an early warning system for complaint monitoring, enabling the business to foresee issues and to head-off problems. The result? Customer lifetime value is prolonged and potentially discontented customers aren’t just retained but become loyal advocates of the brand.