by: Andrew Frawley

I have been in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) space since 1995, as founder, CEO, and President of various marketing and technology companies. In my tenure, I have been a witness to the many changes that CRM and technology have brought to the marketing landscape. The role of a marketer changes year to year, month to month. In an attempt to summarize these changes, I published a book – Igniting Customer Connections: Fire Up Your Company’s Growth by Multiplying Customer Experience & Engagement.

Wiley, 2014

It’s safe to say that in our current marketing landscape, the concept of a linear customer journey, where one touchpoint follows another, is no longer accurate. Instead, the decision space – where customers enter or leave based on their readiness to purchase – is made of up a grouping of touchpoints, and some of these touchpoints have more weight than others.

One of the key themes in my book is Atomic Moments of Truth: very small decisions in a customer’s experience that can have a huge impact on their relationship with a brand. If you think about it, customers are communicating with your brand all the time. Everything from looking for store hours, to giving feedback, to making a purchase and signing up for a credit card can all be considered atomic moments of truth.

What defines these moments? Not every interaction is going to be atomic, but any interaction has the potential to become atomic. From my book, Igniting Customer Connections, we see this definition:

  • Atomic – “Atomic is a word that plays both ways. It describes the scale of matter down to the smallest level, hinting at the plentitude and ubiquity of these moments. And on the more volatile side, it hints at atomic energy, good or bad, by which energy is exponentially increased to generate power—or a nuclear explosion.”
  • Moments – “A moment is a tiny increment of time, not a loaded juncture that everything depends upon. Life is made up of billions of moments and tiny decisions that guide our lives. So it is with the marketplace.”
  • Truth – “After all is said and done, no marketer can take action for a consumer. Consumers have to do it themselves. And all the input, encouragement, and enticement possible via marketing come down to a moment of truth when the consumer acts—buying a product, recommending it, committing to the brand, providing feedback, connecting with the brand.”
Any touchpoint can be an Atomic Moment of Truth

Atomic Moments of Truth lead to better things—great brand loyalty, product purchases, recommendations, and more.

A marketer can expand this definition to include all touchpoints – and maybe they should. After all, optimizing every customer interaction to get the greatest return on experience should be marketing’s goal in this customer-centric landscape. Here are three examples of touchpoints that seem small, but with the correct focus, can be atomic:

Situation 1: A call center rep is on the phone with a customer who is frustrated by the online experience.

Atomic Response: Help the customer navigate the website or offer to let her purchase over the phone. Then, follow up to make sure she has everything she needs.

Situation 2: A customer clicks through a retailer’s email on her smartphone at 6am, browses the website, but doesn’t purchase.

Atomic Response: The retailer should target her again when she is likely to be looking at email on her desktop.

Situation 3: A fan of a major sports league Tweets about the safety risks of the sport for children.

Atomic Response: Look for references from the commissioner’s office about what is being done to promote a safe sport.  

In all three situations, the marketer or associate recognized that consumers provided valuable information about how they feel, determined how to get the best return on experience and engagement, and then made the customer feel like they were really being heard, exponentially growing brand and business equity.

The first step to recognizing and acting on Atomic Moments of Truth is having a deep understanding of your customers. And the way we do that in marketing today is with clean, holistic customer profiles, ideally in a robust CDP. From there, you can add geolocation tools, online cookies, and third-party data to fill out more information your customer. You then can make that profile actionable with predictive algorithms that enable a targeted display ad, Facebook ad and an email to tie it all together.

Atomic Moments of Truth have the power to create or destroy business value. Every moment should be seen as an opportunity to impact Engagement and Experience and create value for a customer. While this may seem like a momentous task, the results to your bottom line will grow exponentially.

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