Graham McGregor 's Opinion

A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham McGregor: Creating delighted clients

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One car mechanic always quotes higher than the expected amount, meaning customers are delighted when the final bill comes in cheaper. Photo / Thinkstock
One car mechanic always quotes higher than the expected amount, meaning customers are delighted when the final bill comes in cheaper. Photo / Thinkstock

Many years ago I read an interesting book on business by Jan Carson called 'Moments of Truth'. In this book Jan talks about how he turned around a struggling airline by using a concept he called moments of truth.

According to Jan, a moment of truth was how you treated a customer every time they have an interaction of some sort with you.

For instance what happened when they spoke with you on the phone, or walked into your business for the first time?

In any Moment of Truth a customer will decide one of three things.

1: They got what they expected in their interaction so they will be happy.

You phone a business and they answer in 3-5 rings and are polite.

2: They got less than they expected. They are unhappy.

(We call this a moment of misery.)

You ring a business and no one answers after 15 rings. So you try again and same result.

3: They got more than they expected. They are delighted.

(We call this a moment of magic.)

You phone a business and they answer within 3 rings. The person is friendly, knowledgeable and obviously enjoys their job. They thank you for ringing and sincerely wish you a nice day. You can feel the warmth in their voice when they do this.

According to customer service experts:

If you are unhappy in a moment of truth you tend to tell up to 33 people about it.

If you are happy in a moment of truth you tend to tell no one.

If you are delighted in a moment of truth you will tell up to 7 people.

So the idea in this strategy is to delight your customers in every interaction you have with them.

One way to delight your customers is to exceed their expectations.

1: First of all set customer expectations at a realistic level to start with.

At Disneyland many of the popular rides have long queues. Since the management can't control the daily demand they post signs outside every queue estimating the length of the wait. They then provide entertainment for families standing in the queue to make the time pass more pleasantly. So if a customer sees sign that says there is a 30 minute wait they can make a decision to stand in that queue for 30 minutes.

2: Then exceed those expectations in some way:

Disney is clever at exceeding customer expectations by making sure that the 30 minute wait is usually only 25 minutes. It's much more pleasant to be told there is a 30 minute wait and then wait only 25 minutes than to be told there is a 25 minute wait and actually have to wait 30 minutes. Disney under promises and over delivers.

A very successful automotive firm has the same policy when quoting for repairs. They will usually estimate at the high end for any repairs and always makes sure that the final bill is less than the estimate. So you might be told the repair will be $450 and be delighted to find it comes to only $415.

A car dealer uses the same principle of under promise and over deliver by making sure his customers are given a better car then theirs to drive when their car is in for repairs. He found that customers don't mind nearly as much when car repairs take longer than planned if they have a better car to drive around in.

Entrepreneur Derek Sivers talked about they exceeded customers' expectations in his online music business called CD Baby. He instructed all his staff to answer the phone within two rings always-7am to 10pm seven days a week. It turned out that Customers LOVED this!

Delighted customers can give you a real competitive advantage.

"Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless." - Jeffrey Gitomer

Action Exercise:
Write down 5 ways you could exceed customer expectations?
Implement 2 of these ideas this week.


Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 27 countries.) You can email him at the link above.

Graham McGregor

A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

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