In my last post, I wrote about customer relationships and how expectations have changed in recent times. One fact that stands out most from our recent research is that for many customers today, being heard and respected is actually more important than having an issue resolved.
The recent events on a cruise ship that experienced a breakdown in open waters seems to illustrate this fact perfectly. Time will tell how the cruise line will emerge from that incident, but as the ship approached its Alabama harbor, many of the stories that began to make their way to shore were of passengers who were perhaps surprisingly extremely complimentary of the crew – despite inconvenience and discomfort suffered by those same passengers.
How is this possible?
Management of defining moments.
Our research study confirmed that positive one-to-one interactions support customer satisfaction and favorable word of mouth. Businesses will often do all they can to avoid customer dissatisfaction, or worse – a major breakdown in operations. But there are lessons to be learned from organizations that weather the rough waters of customer dissatisfaction.
One lesson is to ensure positive defining moments in customer experiences throughout the year, building a strong foundation of customer impressions.
A second lesson is to ensure that personnel understand the importance of each defining moment, even – or especially during a crisis.
A major negative operational event can quickly turn into major negative customer relationships and major organizational failure. But with close management of the customer experience throughout such events, customers who have had to endure an unexpected negative event can become the organization’s strongest proponents.
As we note in our report, Why Customers Stay or Stray: Insight From Global Customer Experience Research, “While some moments are more important than others, each affects the customer’s overall experience and either builds or damages loyalty.”
You might think of each defining moment as a ripple in the ocean – all combining to make up the corporation’s image and reputation. It’s up to the company to manage whether those ripples become constructive or destructive forces.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida