Fifteen years ago, looking for refuge from the pouring rain, I popped into an unprepossessing tea room. I needed a cuppa, and badly. Just five minutes later I was presented with a beautiful fine bone china cup, saucer and tea pot. All very nice of course, but nothing I didn’t expect or hadn’t seen before. Then I noticed it… a beautiful silver tea strainer sitting at the side of the plate. Aaaaaaaah! What a lovely touch! Visions of the finest loose leaf tea brewed to my exacting standards with no “bits” floating around filled my head. This one little object elevated the whole experience from a quick cup of tea and a bit of shelter from the rain to one of those rare things – a moment of truth.
So, what are moments of truth? Simply put, these are the “Wow!” or “Ah-ha!” moments in marketing or customer service when a customer’s interaction with a brand, product or service forms or changes an impression about that particular brand, product or service. They can range from a customer walking into a bistro which has been highly recommended to them, and thinking “Yes! I see what people mean! This place is incredible”, to the unexpectedness of a tea strainer which changed my whole perception of an otherwise unremarkable tea room, to a hotel being able to turn around a complaint into something positive, making the customer change his mind about never returning.
And why are they important? Well, you need moments of truth to differentiate yourself from your competitors, strength your identity and build your “fan base”, especially when hospitality is becoming increasingly homogenised. Go into any well know chain of coffee shop and you know exactly what you’re going to get. There are no surprises when it comes to the standard of the beans, the shape of the brownie or the range of toasted sandwiches. But, and this is a big BUT, even in these surroundings you can make your customers’ experience special. The product may be highly standardised, but staff never should be. Taking a high chair over to a harassed parent before they’d even thought of it, offering the WiFi code to someone struggling to get signal and some pretty latte art are all very simple yet effective ways to help make someone’s day.
Independent businesses are less restricted, and can have great fun creating a memorable experience with lots of quirky touches. I often talk about my mum’s hand made knitted tea cosies which are a big feature of my own coffee shops, and never fail to surprise and delight customers. A really surprising sandwich filling or amazing taste combination always work a treat, as does your ability to cater for customers with complex food allergies or intolerances. Imagine you’re used to brownie, brownie or brownie and all of a sudden you’re offered piña colada cake, soaked pistachio & citrus cake and orange & polenta cake! Suddenly, your whole world is opened up to a range of different tastes and textures, and you’re going to go back to that amazing place time and again because they care about you and want you to have an enjoyable, stress-free culinary experience.
You have plenty of opportunities to create moments of truth. Think of all the different stages of catering and hospitality experiences when you can create an impression on your customers. Your website, literature, the front of your building, how you welcome guests, your decor, the way towels are folded, the way toilet roll is folded (yes, really!), your cups, your cake display, the soap you use, how you deal with children and every single interaction between your staff and customers – don’t underestimate the huge power that every little touch can have.
Every moment can be a moment of truth.
Victus Consultancy has thirty years of experience in the hospitality and catering industry. We can help you with all aspects of running an SME such as staff training, allergens and creating moments of truth which reflect and reinforce your brand to create a strong, positive impression. Just call us now on 07732 454 639 for a no-obligation chat.