Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the IFS Connect Benelux event in Cuijk in the Netherlands. As a funny aside, if you’ve never been to Cuijk it is a small town about that is a two-hour train ride from Amsterdam. When I arrived at the Cuijk train station, I looked around for a taxi stand and, not seeing any cars, popped into a small café to ask where to hail a taxi. The manager laughed out loud at me; turns out that an American woman asking for a taxi in the small town of Cuijk is not only an uncommon occurrence but also mission impossible. The helpful gentleman called three taxi companies before informing me that it just wasn’t going to happen – then kindly offering to drive me to the hotel himself. You can’t tell me there aren’t wonderful humans all around us!
Anyway, I was asked to give a keynote at the event to add some context to the IFS Moment of Service message, which I was happy to do because it’s a message I believe very strongly in. To me, the Moment of Service represents a wealth of opportunity for businesses across industries and geographies – not just today but tomorrow and into the future.
The Power of a Moment
You’ve likely all heard the quote from Cesare Pavese, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” As such, the moments you interact with your customers – your moments of service – are a powerful and unique opportunity for you to tell a story. We know that today’s customers are less and less interested in buying products, or even services, and more interested in experiences, outcomes, and peace of mind. Customers aren’t attracted to WHAT it is you do, but the story of how what you do HELPS them.
So, the moment of service, at its core, is an opportunity you have to tell the story of your company, your brand, and your value. If you think a bit further about storytelling, you consider the initial objective which is to create something compelling that will capture the attention of your audience. This makes me think about delivering today’s moments of service – what story are you telling that will capture your customers’ attention? Perhaps it’s a story of reliability, of simplicity and ease, or of impression and brand identity.
But storytelling isn’t just about capturing an audience’s attention, it’s also about keeping their attention. And this is where innovation is key – you have to be thinking ahead about what story your customers want from your business next month, next year, and beyond. Maybe that’s a story of outcomes – where you provide a guarantee to your customers of how you will alleviate a challenge or meet a need they have. It could be around insights – how you’ll leverage data and your unique knowledge to provide your customers with a perspective, or training, or context that will help them in new and different ways. It’s most certainly about trust.
The majority of companies I speak with today have a goal of moving beyond product manufacturer or service provider and to the status of trusted advisor with their customers. To put a world of transactions behind and a focus on relationships in the forefront. I came across an article not too long ago from David Myhrer of IDC that I really enjoyed, talking about how much of Apple’s success as a brand is built on trust. He says, “Brand trust is the foundation which allows Apple to continue to thrive, expanding into adjacent and stretch categories, fueling continued growth and profitability. With each positive experience that consumers have with Apple, with each need fulfilled, across its many products and services, this trust is reinforced, the result of a virtuous cycle. These deep relationships with consumers drive exceptional loyalty and superior conversion rates throughout the Purchase Funnel, making Apple stickier with consumers and less likely to even consider competitive alternatives.”
Whatever the unique characters and themes of your story, trust must be an integral part of the storyline. And while Apple is a consumer brand and many of you reading this don’t work for consumer-facing companies, the overall message is the same. And your moments of service are powerful, and critical, opportunities to tell your story and to build the trust that will create customer engagement and loyalty to carry your business from what it is today to what it will be in five years’ time.
So, please, understand the power those moments hold – and the importance of the story you’re telling. I truly believe it is foundational to your success. If you need some inspiration on how your peers are differentiating through their own moments and stories, come and visit us at www.futureoffieldservice.com.