The Member Journey: Finding and Enhancing Moments of Truth

Much has been studied about the customer journey. The world’s largest brands and corporations have all contributed to the pool of knowledge. They’ve studied from every angle what it takes to convince a person to purchase their product/service/doodad/you name it.

Unfortunately there are not quite so many resources out there for organizations for help in understanding the member journey.

At Access, we’ve been studying and pondering this for years, gathering membership statistics and analyzing different moments of the journey to the tune of hundreds of articles over the last decade or two.

And you know one thing we’ve learned? There’s a lot of overlap between the disciplines. Today, we wanted to go over a concept usually applies to the customer journey and show how it can be used to understand how members think and behave when choosing to join (and stay with) an organization.

This concept, called Moments of Truth, outlines key points of decisions customers face as they choose which products to buy. Retailers have found that by identifying and influencing moments of truth, they are able to dramatically increase profits.

Organizations too can benefit from examining the journey their members take as they discover, join and then share their membership. In doing so, they can boost the metrics that matter to them—like recruitment, retention, reviews and more—by enhancing interactions at the most critical moments in the member journey.

What are Moments of Truth in the Customer Journey?

The customer journey might seem simple at first glance. But it encompasses much more than just the click of a “complete order” button, or the scanning of an item. Before, during and after that purchase are predictable moments when customers make long lasting impressions of a product. These impressions can determine crucial decisions such as: Buy or not buy? Be satisfied or disappointed?

Shoppers are at their most influential at these moments.

Corporate giants P&G and Google coined the terms that define these critical “moments of truth.” Since then, retailers everywhere have used the theory to focus marketing efforts where they will have the most effect. In doing so, many brands have reported the technique to drastically improve sales.

New call-to-actionHere’s a quick introduction before we go into more detail later:

Zero Moment of Truth: The customer realizes a need and begins searching for a solution.

First Moment of Truth: The customer considers a product as a solution.

Second Moment of Truth: The customer experiences the product.

Third Moment of Truth: The customer becomes a true fan.

Understand the Member Journey Using Moments of Truth

If you were to imagine the member journey as road trip, I doubt you’d be able to paint the directions with a straight line from point A to point B. In fact, the journey from strangers to loyal members is a long road with lots of exit points where a member may end their relationship with your organization.

When you apply the moments-of-truth theory to your roadmap, you’ll begin to see distinct forks in the road. At each one, people face the decision to either deepen their relationship with you, or walk away.

traffic danceThe most successful businesses make sure they are present at each of these forks, so they can help direct people down the path they want them to take.

When organizations take the time to enhance interactions at these critical points, they can get better return on investment for their marketing efforts. Not only will they find they can influence a greater number of people, they might even be able to spend less to do so as they focus their efforts on only the most influential moments.

To illustrate this point, consider this example of a person joining an organization. The journey in this case is pretty straightforward, but the member still encounters points where she had to decide to continue on in her membership.

Alex decides to purchase roadside assistance before an upcoming road trip. She pulls out her phone and looks up reviews on the most popular options. (zero moment of truth) After narrowing her options, she visits Allstate Motor Club’s website. (first moment of truth) She likes what she sees, and she signs up for the club.  On her trip, Alex calls her motor club for a jump start. (second moment of truth) She has a good experience with the service and is grateful for her membership. When a friend starts researching roadside assistance, Alex tells him about her own good experience and recommends Allstate. (third moment of truth)

But how exactly can organizations influence these moments to get a positive outcome? It’s different for each, but the customer model has already laid out excellent strategies for proven results.

What is the Zero Moment of Truth?

Zero moment of truth was actually coined in 2011 by Google, after the others were already well known. However, it outlines the first crucial moment where you can begin influencing potential members’ choices. 

New Call-to-actionTypically, a member will recognize a need in their lives. Sometimes this will happen after some kind of stimulus, like a banner ad on a website, a direct email or conversation with a friend that sparks interest.

Once that member begins searching for an organization to fill that need, they’ve entered the zero moment of truth. A Google study shows that 53% of shoppers reported always researching before making a purchase. Beyond that, searches for ratings and reviews are on the rise. This moment of truth will only become more critical as people become even more reliant upon the “hive mind” of their social network.

The tricky thing about this moment of truth is that your organization will have no knowledge of the person at this point. Yet, you can still influence them positively.

You can win the zero moment of truth by ensuring that your information is readily available and easily findable. This may include your websites, printed literature, member reviews, even word of mouth reviews.  

People want to know the opinion of their peers, not just your messaging. Testimonials, reviews and case studies can all encourage people to trust you. You can even bend less-than-stellar reviews to your favor by publicly addressing issues and proving your dedication to customer service.

It’s also critical that people are able to find you online when they search. Just because an ad for AAA starts a person thinking about roadside assistance, their research might very well lead them to ultimately join a different club. So winning this moment might require you to shore up your online presence and improve the SEO optimization of your site.

Some companies have found it helpful to take a walk in the member’s shoes by Googling their own organization and close competitors to see how they measure up.

When members can find you easily, they can give your organization a closer look. Then you’ll have the chance to prove how your membership will fill their need.

What is the First Moment of Truth?

According to P&G, there is a 3-7 second window after a customer first encounters a product in which they can be turned from a browser to a buyer. This is the first moment of truth. In the member journey, this will be their first interaction with your organization, whether they find you via website, printed materials, through a live representative, etc.

Logically, you’d think members take a more time than this when choosing to join an organization. After all, there’s more to signing up for a membership than there is to picking which brand of chips to toss in your shopping cart.

However, first impressions leave powerful lasting opinions, so you’ll want to make sure yours is positive. If nothing else, it’s important to remember how shockingly fast a person might strike you off the options list and forget you exist.  

stand outYou can win the first moment of truth by proving the value of membership quickly and clearly. You’ll want to find some way to stand out from the crowd.

If recent loyalty statistics have shown us one thing, it’s how much competition there is right now, fighting over the limited attention of potential members. So while it may seem like a no-brainer, the way to convince members to give you a chance is by having great value, and making that value highly visible.

If you find that people are abandoning mid-enrollment, consider if you’re asking for more information than you need before you’ve established trust. 34% of Millennials don’t join loyalty programs because the enrollment process is too long.

Members who see the value will give you a chance. Then you’ll be able to show them how your membership will deliver on every promise, or even better, go above and beyond.

What is the Second Moment of Truth?

The second moment of truth occurs when a member signs up for your service and is able to experience it for the first time. They no longer have to rely on the information you supply, or on reviews and testimonials. They can decide for themselves if your organization is worth their investment.

The member’s first impression will either be confirmed or overturned. This moment of truth will determine if the member is willing to continue their membership beyond the initial promised period or if they’re going to split at the earliest possible moment.

At this point, members will be comparing the promises made to what is actually delivered. So if you’ve maaaaaybe oversold your organization to get your foot in the door, you might want to back up a step and adjust your sales pitch.

It will do you no good to promise the moon in order to get sign ups, if you can’t deliver on your promises. Remember that people are increasingly turning to reviews as a defining factor in decision making. They’re more likely to believe the people calling you on your bait and switch than they are to believe your promises anyway.

You can win the second moment of truth by delivering on promised value. And you have to prove this value fast. This moment marks a shift in focus from recruitment to retention.

One thing that can make a big difference is having a great onboarding sequence. Effective onboarding helps ensure new members experience the most important features first, and take certain actions (like signing up for your newsletter) that will let you continue to influence them on their entire journey.

Excellent customer service is also crucial at this juncture. A good experience can smooth over many bumps in the road, and help lessen the learning curve.

New Call-to-actionAnother way to win this moment is by including value-added benefits beyond your core offerings. Some organizations have found great success by adding things like everyday discounts to offset the cost of membership to their package.

Members who see value right away will stick around. Then you’ll have a chance to win their loyalty and turn them into true fans.

What is the Third Moment of Truth?

The third moment of truth marks a shift in the member’s perception of your organization. It is harder to predict when this moment will happen as it is individual for each member. But you will know it has happened because the member becomes a brand advocate, willing to advocate for your organization via reviews, word of mouth, etc.

Many members would be perfectly content to stall before this point, simply continuing membership indefinitely, but never tipping over into becoming one of your most loyal members.

They may need a little nudging toward the third moment of truth.

You can win the third moment of truth by cultivating an emotional connection with your members. When this happens, members feel more than satisfaction. They feel delighted with your organization.

And Google’s analytics have shown that people love to share delightful experiences. To ensure members reach this point, you may have to find ways to go above and beyond expectations. One way to do this is through a surprise and delight campaign to show your most loyal members how much you appreciate them.

You’ll also want to foster an environment of sharing. People love to be heard, so respond when appropriate.

For many members this will be enough, but don’t be afraid to push even a little harder for feedback. By asking targeted questions, requesting reviews and incentivizing referrals, you can convince some to be brand advocates who might otherwise just keep their good opinions to themselves.

When your members are willing to share their good experience with you, they help others begin their journey (at their zero moment of truth) toward membership by enhancing your presence.

Discover Your Own Moments of Truth

To be fair, these customer moments of truth won’t translate perfectly for all business models. However, every relationship between a business and its constituents (be that retailer/customer, organization/member, employer/employee, etc.) comes with its own unique set of forks in the road.

It may take some effort to define these decision-making moments your members must pass through to become true fans of your organization. But doing so will help you plan ahead. Enhancing interactions at these moments of truth has proven to be an effective way to deepen relationships with members. And who doesn’t want more loyalty at the end of the day?

Topics: Customer Engagement, Discount Programs, Member Benefits, member retention, discount program, member engagement, Membership Organizations, loyalty programs, member loyalty, membership discounts

Written by: Kendra Lusty

For over a decade, Kendra Lusty has been a writer for Access Development, and currently focuses her research and writing on topics related to loyalty and engagement.

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