Seizing the Moment: Moments of Truth in Financial Services


What are “moments of truth”?

“The moment a customer/user interacts with a brand, product or service to form or change an impression about that particular brand, product or service.”

– Jan Carlzon, SAS CEO

This is the first known definition of the moment of truth (MoT) from the CEO of SAS, in 1987. In 2005, Procter & Gamble defined two specific moments: the first moment of truth (FMOT) and the second moment of truth ( SMOT). ). They added the third moment of truth (TMOT) in 2006. Google updated the concept with the zero moment of truth (ZMOT) in 2011. Let’s dive into these concepts.

  • Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). It’s that time when you pick up your laptop, cell phone, or other device and start researching a product or service before you buy it.
  • First Moment of Truth (FMOT). This is when you first encounter a product or service, whether offline or online. Procter & Gamble describes this as the moment of decision making: when a consumer chooses a product over the competitor’s offerings.
  • Second Moment of Truth (SMOT). This moment is your experience with the product or service. After purchase, but also each time you use it or interact with the service.
  • Third Moment of Truth (TMOT). During this time, you will share your experiences through word of mouth, in a magazine or on social networks. It can be positive, negative or neutral consumer feedback towards a brand, product or service.

This is based on a rather linear customer journey. Today, we know that no two customer journeys are the same. And the journeys are often not linear. Google has done extensive research on customer journeys (and associated patterns) and shows that most decisions are made in the “messy middle” of a journey.

Source: Think with Google

The messy environment

Google’s authors’Decoding decisions: making sense of the messy environment‘ explain the model with four E’s: exposure, exploration, evaluation and experience.

Exposure is the sum total of everything you’ve heard about brands and products in a category. From your friends through word of mouth, a LinkedIn ad, a news article, a TikTok video, an outdoor ad, or anything else. It’s not just advertising, but your whole conscience. Fundamentally, exposure is not a phase, nor a singular point of contact: it is always active and present throughout the decision-making process.

Exploration and evaluation. The model includes an infinite loop, visualizing how consumers are more informed and empowered. They cycle between exploring and evaluating available options while processing information before they are ready to buy. The time is not fixed: some will move quickly from exploration to evaluation, some will miss it completely and some will take their time for long research.

Experience. Not in the messy middle, but important to mention. It is the experience the customer has with the purchased product or service and the brand, fueling their exposure. Customers will share their experiences with others, offline and online.

More “moments of truth”?

If you think now: well, we can forget the “moments of truth”. Think again. Moments of truth matter more than ever. Especially since everything can have an impact on the “exposure”. If we go back to the initial definition of Jan Carlzon in 1987, it is still valid. Every interaction can impact their opinion of a brand, product or service. And these days, customers are more in touch with financial services than ever before.

However, the “moments of truth” can be different for customers and for companies. Every interaction counts, but in some cases it really is a watershed moment. Let’s see what their “moments of truth” are.

Be there when it matters most

Finance comes with emotion. Any change in your financial situation, whether good or bad, will trigger a certain emotion. Think about it: when do you contact your financial advisor or company? Only when you really need help. These critical moments can be life-changing events, such as a new home. However, it could also be a car accident or something insignificant like losing your credit card. Completely different events, but they all matter. Especially at this time. If the support is not as expected, customers may consider leaving this company.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of an insurer. What can you do to best help your customers? Be there when it matters most! Help them with empathy. We’ll take four situations to see what you can do.

  1. Car accident. Your client is still at the scene of the accident and calls you, his insurer. You can imagine he is under a lot of stress. It is important that he can speak directly to a human agent, who can help him. Make sure you have an emergency number available with human and empathetic support.
  2. Moving. Your client buys a new house. They need to act quickly and want to get updates on the status of their new insurance. Help them with automated updates.
  3. Pregnancy. A new family member is often a happy time. Changes to their insurance can be made through a virtual assistant. However, it is important to help them in an empathetic way. Be sure to teach your Conversational AI how to react to emotional situations, and set up a handover to a human agent.

In any situation, it’s important to give your customers the best possible experience. Find out what are the “moments of truth” for your customers, in order to best support them.


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