Customer experience is fast becoming the number one digital marketing strategy.
Also known as CX, customer experience was cited by Adobe-eConsultancy as the most exciting opportunity in 2015, overtaking even content marketing.
Indeed, customer experience is the new marketing. At least according to Brian Solis in his book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.
Focused on how companies can design “omnichannel experiences”, X covers a wide range of topics related to customer experiences. For the purpose of this blog post, I will focus specifically on the four Moments of Truth – a new way of dissecting and analysing your customer journey.
Let us begin first with the root cause of every customer interaction.
Before your customer do anything online or offline, she would encounter a stimulus. This can be purposeful or intent based (ie looking to fix her washing machine and seeing your ad on Google), or accidental and discovery based (ie stumbling across a great new restaurant on her Facebook feed).
Often, this stimulus would result in your prospect gaining awareness of your brand’s existence.
Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT)
First introduced by Google, this is the moment when people are searching for a solution or product online. It is naturally an area that Google has great interest in, considering that its search engine is the primary mode for people to locate ideas, content, products, services or brands.
This is the point where your prospect may do online research to consider different available options.
First Moment of Truth (FMOT)
This was introduced by P&G, and is considered the moment when people come across your product and received a first impression about it. Often, this may comprise a few separate “moments” (or touch points) before the actual purchase is made.
In Solis’ words, these moments are where the customer considers to purchase your product or service.
From a digital marketing standpoint, it is important to consider how you can smoothen your customer’s path to purchase by removing whatever obstacles stand in her way.
Second Moment of Truth (SMOT)
These are the collection of touch points where your potential customer may feel, think, see, hear, tough, smell, and taste your product or service. It is where she actually experiences what you have to offer. Collectively, these “moments” will influence her overall impression of your brand and determine what she will do next.
Increasingly, the SMOT can differentiate winning companies from losing ones. (Learn more about how you can choreograph your customer’s sensorial experience here.)
Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT)
What happens if your customer creates a piece of content after experiencing your product or service and publishes it online?
Well, you have what Solis would call the Ultimate Moment of Truth or UMOT.
Depending on how positive (or more commonly negative) her experience with your product has been, she may write a review on Amazon or Tripadvisor, comment on your Facebook page, or tweet about it. Her intention in doing so is often a combination of her need for self-expression plus a desire to inform others. This shared experience will influence the different stages of consideration by the next potential customer, and can be extremely powerful.
This Customer Experience (CX) pathway is elegantly illustrated by the diagram below:
Courtesy of Brian Solis
From UMOT to ZMOT
As you can see from the steps above, customer experience management (CXM) is key as one customer’s experience expressed in user generated content WILL influence other customer encounters. In other words, one customer’s UMOT becomes the next person’s ZMOT.
Depending on the steps that your customers take, what they ultimately share will have an impact on subsequent customers. Hence, you need to consider how you can increase pleasure and reduce pain in all the steps, from:
Awareness -> Social Discovery -> Consideration to Purchase -> Experience -> Shared Experience
We all know that Search Marketing (and its components like Search Engine Optimization or SEO) plays an important part in the initial phase of brand discovery. Over time, however, shared experiences that are relayed through social networks, online communities and apps serve as “the ultimate PageRank”.
To ensure that you can win the battle for your customer’s attention and affection, you need to provide value across every step of their buying and experience journey.
In other words, you should set the stage for delivering the right content and service to your customers at each micro-moment while moving them along their path in real time, at the right time, in the right place, through the right device, with the right impression.
The A.R.T. of Engagement
To grasp your customer’s continual attention and embrace them, Solis suggests that you need to design your customer’s micro-moments (or micro-engagements) with three things in mind:
- A: Actions
- R: Reactions
- T: Transactions
Let us go through each in turn as I expand upon them.
A: Customer Actions
We all know that actions speak louder than words. In designing your customer experience, you need to consider the right actions from both your customer perspective as well as your own as a service provider.
Consider what actions your customers hope to achieve, what outcomes do they seek, and how you can present an intuitive, native opportunity for them to accomplish what they seek.
R: Customer Reactions/Interactions
These are the desired reactions that you wish to elicit from your customer. What positive reactions do you wish them to have? What should follow from a specific interaction? How does the conversation play out? What’s involved, and what’s in it for them?
These go beyond the act of selling and purchasing. They should include the series of exchanges between your brand and its customers.
Consider how you can design each interaction and engagement so that you can bring your customers closer to you, and delight them with memorable encounters. This will not only motivate them to become your lifelong customers but inspire them to share their experience with others.
What I’ve covered is just the tip of the iceberg. As you’d imagine, designing an extraordinary customer experience journey requires consideration amount of analysis, planning, and charting.
More importantly, you’ll need to prepare every member of your team to deliver optimal service experiences at every touch point- from the brand promises conveyed in your ads and channels, pathways to purchase, to customer experience.
By taking care of your Moments of Truth – ZMOT, FMOT, SMOT, and UMOT – you’re better able to create greater customer affinity and affection every step of the way. This will benefit your brand more than any amount of advertising which you do.