A few weeks ago, I attended a webinar about planning for and mapping the customer journey. As both a marketer and a consumer, it’s interesting to look at the customer experience from the outside in. Prime examples mentioned in this session were all household names – Amazon, Apple, Hilton, Virgin, Starbucks… but what are these guys doing that is applicable to all marketers?

One key point was the idea of the “moment of truth” in the customer experience. Digital marketing pundit, Brian Solis, identified 4 key moments of truth that impact the brand experience and recognition:

Zero Moment of Truth As Google puts it: “that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service you’re thinking about trying or buying.”

First Moment of Truth When a customer actually “sees” your product, or the impressions they form when they read the words describing your product.

Second Moment of Truth The sensory experience as customers experience your product over time and how your company supports the brand relationship.

Ultimate Moment of Truth These are shared moments throughout the customer journey that become the next person’s Zero Moment of Truth.

When there are breaks in these moments of truth, it turns into a roadblock for the customer experience, and breaks in the communication stream. This may seem like a daunting path to go down, and I thought the advice from the speaker, Chief Strategy Officer, Cindy Randazzo, was sound – “Don’t boil the ocean,” pick a discrete and actionable part of the customer journey, and focus on improving that portion and measuring the results.

It’s all about paying attention to the voice of the customer. Start by determining 2-3 unique customer personas to map. Leverage customer profiles, segmentation studies and customer surveys to really understand a smaller portion of your customer base, and then you can learn about how you guide your customers along the roadmap to success and brand advocacy.

It sounds so simple, but brands that keep the customer at the center of everything they do have better retention, satisfaction and referrals. I’m sure you can think of examples of brands that DON’T put the customer at the center of what they do. And just in the same way you beam about a brand that gave you an exceptional customer experience, I would wager that you told twice as many friends about the brand that gave you a POOR customer experience. Think about that for a minute.