ITB 2024 Special Reporting
The Truth Is.... Busting Through The Barriers To WOW.
By Rick Hendrie, President, Remarkable Branding
Friday, 17th February 2006
The moments of truth are so precious in every interaction with your guest. The ones which cut across most businesses are:

I will do what it takes to WOW
Thank You
Good Bye

The human component elevates these above mechanical ‘Moments of Truth", even as those have great impact. I was in Denver recently and stayed at a respectable mid-price property. When I arrived, the desk clerk asked me "to wait a minute" before he checked me in. No problem. He returned 2-3 minutes later with a Coke cup filled with what I guessed to be Coke. I thought, "I see. My time is less important than his thirst." Bad start.

When I asked if he knew where I might find several well known restaurant chains (I was speaking at the Western Food Service Expo), he said, "I don't know" in a kind of dazed manner – not rude, but not interested in solving my problem. "Why don't you try downtown? They have great restaurants there." No doubt, but that wasn't what I asked. When I said that I didn't want to go downtown, he shrugged in an ‘I really don't know what to tell you my friend' sort of way. A performance that told me all I need to know about the property.

I got to the room. There was no remote control and the air conditioning blasted 80 degree air regardless the setting I established. Now, my minimum standards include having the remote control available and a working air conditioning system. These are specific Moments of Truth and this place failed, again. If the organization had been committed to ‘I will do what it takes to WOW', I wouldn't have thought twice about calling down and getting it corrected. No way, today.

I am interested in identifying some of the thousands of excuses that stop us all from winning the Moments of Truth, and, more importantly, strategies to deal with the basic, underlying nature of "I can't, I won't or It'll never happen" that fuels all our excuses.  Why are Moments of Truth ignored, blown or offered in an inauthentic manner?

The Truth is

  • We don't want to change
  • We don't believe it will make a difference if we actually put any effort against it
  • We think it's going to cost us money that cannot be measured in ROI
  • We don't have time
  • We don't have the staff
  • We believe in it, but the boss will never buy it
  • We think it's corny or uncool
  • We're afraid of being rejected
  • We afraid of being personal
  • We're over-worked and that's all we need, ‘another program'
  • We don't think we can make it happen perfectly, yet we don't want to settle, so we don't want to start
  • We're already doing it, at least some of it, at least some of the time.
  • We're doing it better than the guy across the street
You get the picture. I just gave some line management barriers. I didn't even begin to address the hourly associate on whom most of the Moments of Truth fall or senior executives, from whom most of the financial and moral support is necessary.

I believe the vast majority of the world wants to be part of something meaningful and great. The issue is that few want to pick up the torch to do their part, because humans hate change. Further, in a culture that prizes perfection (unattainable, but ever present) rather than excellence, risk taking is rare. I may not like my crummy life, but at least it's warm and squishy.

The Truth Is… anyone in management can take up the torch, regardless the environment they are in and institute the march to Winning Moments of Truth. There are powerful cultural trends at work in your favor and there is a marketing ROI, to boot:

  • Our society is getting ruder, so intentional politeness is a powerful differentiating promise
  • People have a deep and abiding hunger to be acknowledged. It has only grown in power. Intentional acknowledgement is a potent differentiating promise
  • We, as a culture, are more anxious and frightened, even as economic growth is up and crime rates are down. An intentional  offering of an ‘embrace' of welcome and safety is a compelling differentiating promise
  • We live in a world where ‘exceeded expectations' means you got your to-go order right. An attitude of "I'll do what it takes to make it WOW" defangs most mistakes, intensifies most common services and turns them both into WOW. A context of excellence that fuels WOW is another forceful point of difference
What are the strategies to take charge and win The Moments of Truth?

  • Acknowledge your reluctance
  • Accept that it will happen over time
  • Embrace a teaching philosophy of Excellence versus the punitive approach fed by a culture of perfection
  • Schedule meeting time every day to review and rehearse your Moments of Truth
  • Acknowledge those who deliver on the Moments immediately and effusively
  • Reward those whose commitment to Excellence has them winning the Moments most of the time and do it regularly
  • Measure the performance
  • Market the commitment (now that'll grow some hair on your chest)
  • Live the Moments with your own staff, everyday
This is doable, folks. It's not a quick fix nor is it mechanical, making it more comfortable to consider. I guarantee that you will begin to attract better employees, however.

We are in businesses that, whether we like it or not, sell based on more than superior performance or new features. We sell feeling. We sell hope.  They are not captured heads in beds, a hamburger or a pair of khakis. They only exist in the human connections that occur in the Moments of Truth.

Rick Hendrie is President & Chief Experience Officer of Remarkable Branding, Inc. a Cambridge MA based consultancy which helps clients create and market memorable brand experiences. To sign up for his complimentary newsletter go to www.remarkablebranding.com 

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