How effectively is your contact centre recognising and handling ‘moments of truth’ in customer interactions?

In a recent article of ours, we wrote about the Customer Interaction Cube, which provides a structure setting out no fewer than eight different types of customer interaction, based on factors including the emotional importance, urgency, and complexity of the customer’s query. 

Even the structure outlined by this 2x2x2 cube, however, can only ever represent a relative simplification of the various forms that customer interactions take. 

The Customer Interaction Cube can undoubtedly be invaluable for helping organisations to estimate the possible future volumes and resources they will need if they are to cater to their customers’ needs effectively. 

However, there is also greater complexity to the situation than this, not least that – depending on the circumstances – even seemingly similar types of customer interaction might need to be handled quite differently. 

A query about product delivery, for example, could be a very urgent request or a very-far-from-urgent one, which could have implications for exactly how the customer interaction is handled. 

‘Moments of truth’: what they are, and why they are important 

McKinsey has referred to what are known as ‘moments of truth’ in customer interactions. These are moments that frequently arise when the customer has a high emotional stake or has come across an unexpected problem. 

It is the kind of situation in which the exact outcome – and how the customer’s query is handled – can play a big part in whether they become long-term advocates of, and loyal to, the given company. 

Although ‘moments of truth’ happen relatively rarely as a proportion of all customer interactions, it is crucial for organisations to be able to recognise them and handle them appropriately. After all, these are powerful opportunities to win or lose a customer’s satisfaction and loyalty not just now, but potentially for a long time to come. 

So, what approaches will help organisations achieve great results from ‘moments of truth’? 

Looking back at the Customer Interaction Cube that we mentioned earlier, will hopefully help give you a sense of some of the interaction types that are especially likely to be ‘moments of truth’. 

Knowing in advance what these look like will enable you to do some degree of planning for them – for example, by arranging for them to be handled by your contact centre’s most experienced and empathetic agents. However, it can also undoubtedly be difficult to predict the kinds of customer interactions in which ‘moments of truth’ come into play. 

So, how can you detect moments of truth as they happen? One option could be using real-time speech analytics solutions that can help indicate a measure of stress in the customer’s voice. This could then be flagged up to the agent handling the call. 

But on the other hand, a suitably skilled agent should be able to recognise such stress in the customer’s voice without having to depend on technology. So, what other steps can your organisation take to optimise its approach to ‘moments of truth’? 

One route we would certainly suggest is ensuring your organisation gives its customers the benefit of a true omnichannel approach, whereby the same consistently high standard of service and knowledge can be expected through every channel the customer might use to contact you. 

Of no less importance, though, is giving your business’s agents the freedom to act in whatever way is appropriate to the given situation. 

In the event, for example, of a ‘high-emotion’ interaction occurring on social media, related to something that can’t be handled on that channel (perhaps due to its complexity or a need to go through security), the agent should be able to make their own decision to place an outbound, real-time call to the customer, instead of simply advising them to call the contact centre.

The above suggestion might sound jarring to those organisations accustomed to their contact centre operations running on a highly structured command-and-control basis. However, when agents are given carte blanche to deliver in ‘moments of truth’, such momentary and occasional relaxation of the business’s usual procedures might be more than worthwhile given the rare opportunity these ‘moments’ present to drive up customer satisfaction and lock in the customer’s loyalty. 

Would you like to read further insights like this, which are borne out of in-depth and specialised research for contact centres? If so, you might be interested in downloading ContactBabel’s “2022-23 UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide”, or the equivalent US version