Key learning outcomes:

  • Identify the moments of truth in interactions with your customers.
  • Recognise that a customer will rate their experience according to their latest encounter with your business.
  • Acknowledge the growth in the significance of the online sales environment.
  • Understand the impact of the gap between an enquiry and completion of a sale on a moment of truth.


Customers are more demanding today than ever before, and the power of the consumer has never been greater. Customers are testing and judging you every time they interact with your business, no matter how remote that contact might be. These interactions are your ā€œmoments of truthā€. In this article, we will help you to identify the moments of truth in your business. Once you have done this, you will be able to work to enhance each customer touch point and identify areas that are potentially damaging to your business.


Jan Carlzon outlined the concept of ā€œmoments of truthā€ in his book of the same name published in the late 1980s. In the book, Carlzon recounts how he was able to turn around the failing Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) through a focus on improving customer service and the customer experience. The concept is very easy to apply to any business and serves as a great reminder to focus on what is most important ā€“ the customer.[wlm_ismember]

What are your moments of truth?

Moments of truth will be different for every business, and it is important that you identify every single one to ensure that you are not leaving any holes in the customer experience. It is also important to remember that the most recent experience will hold the most weight in terms of how the customer rates the overall experience.

For example, imagine you buy a new car and everything has gone well to date. However, when you go to collect your new vehicle, the salesperson leaves you waiting and then just hands over the keys in a rush with no fuss or fanfare. You go from feeling excited about the purchase to feeling a little flat, and even though you might be happy with the car, you are unlikely to rave about the dealership as they failed to deliver in that important moment of truth.

The following is a list of common moments of truth for you to work through in your business. There will be some on the list that do not apply, and there are likely to be some that apply to your business that you will not find here. We want you to use this list as a starting point for building a complete list of moments that are unique to your business.

First encounters

These days a customerā€™s first encounter with your business may not be with a member of your team; it could be an online, virtual encounter. Think about the following ways a customer may first come into contact with your business.


Social media

Online reputation

Phone enquiry

Face-to-face enquiry

The sales process

Depending on the business, the sales process may be quite simple, for example when a customer comes into a coffee shop and orders a takeaway coffee. For other businesses such as a car dealership, the sales process may be long and more involved, lasting days, weeks, months or even longer. It is important to note that the longer the gap between the initial enquiry and the completion of the transaction, the more important these moments of truth become. Often salespeople can start the process with high levels of enthusiasm and energy, only to fall off as time drags on or if the customer is taking an extended time to make a buying decision.

Initial meeting


The transaction

After-sales service

The customer experience does not stop once the transaction is complete. Repeat and referral business is essential for a businessā€™s growth; therefore, the moments of truth beyond the sale can become the most important. Remember also that the last interaction the customer has will tend to hold the most weight in their overall impression of the business.




As a business, you need to ensure every potential customer interaction is handled in a consistent and respectful manner. It is also important to understand that not all moments of truth hold the same weight or value in a customerā€™s mind. You will find that the moments of truth that involve interaction with your team will be more important to the customer. For example, an error may occur with paperwork that might irritate the customer; however, most will forgive this if the personal interaction is exceptional. It is important to remember that this does not work the other way around: if the personal interactions are substandard, perfect paperwork and systems can never turn this around.

Use this article in conjunction with others in the ā€œSales & Customer Serviceā€ section of the website to build an exceptional service experience for your customers.[/wlm_ismember]

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