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Kenneth G. Hartman

Security Consultant,  
Forensic Analyst & 
Certified SANS Instructor

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Have you ever been frustrated with customer service at a big bureaucracy, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles? Every interaction between people within an organization creates an impression in the minds of all who witness the interaction. These “moments of truth” are snapshots that reveal the character of an organization.

In the book Moments of Truth, Jan Carlzon urges leaders to experience various customer service interactions from the perspective of the customer. As an example, Carlzon suggests anonymously calling the company switchboard to see how the receptionist greets customers. Carlzon, an airline executive, often flew on various flights in an unreserved seat to emphasize that he wanted the other passengers to get the same treatment that employees would give him.

One of the axioms for the Total Quality Movement is that the customer is the judge of the feast. Therefore, if an organization desires to improve the quality of the services they provide, it is imperative to multiply the positive moments of truth and reduce the negative interactions. As leaders pursuing quality improvement, we must raise the awareness of the collective impact that moments of truth have and create a culture that encourages, even inspires, great customer service. As your team focuses on how to improve customer service, you will find a corresponding improvement in the quality of your service.

In addition to the book Moments of Truth, the folks at QBQ, Inc. have great resources to help foster the culture of personal responsibility that engenders excellent service and quality. Also, here’s an article that has some great ideas on how to apply the Moments of Truth concept in a health care environment.