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Altair Industrial Design Series Part Two: Moments of Truth

Getting things done right takes an unflagging commitment to putting people at the center of the design process. Human-centered design keeps people at the center of each step in the design phase so products and brands give people the satisfaction of a product that fulfills their demands. Our design team knows there are crucial junctures that can make or break products, services, and brands.  These junctures are known as the “moments of truth,” because products live and die depending on whether they fail to meet, live up to, or exceed consumers’ expectations at three crucial moments in the consumer journey. If products satisfy consumers throughout these three moments of truth, it’s likely they’ll succeed and keep consumers satisfied and loyal; if they don’t, it’s likely that product or brand won’t be around for long. It’s more important than ever today to factor in these “moments of truth,” which is why our design team always keeps them top of mind throughout our design process.

Zero Moment of Truth

This moment of truth occurs when consumers research products and brands. Prior to the internet and the ubiquity of online shopping, there wasn’t really a zero moment of truth. But it’s become such a major part of the consumer experience today that it’d be foolish to omit it. And today it can be easy to overlook this part of the consumer journey because it can seem like a natural, automatic action. But choosing a product is anything but automatic – whenever we choose a product or brand, there are numerous factors at play, including brand reputation, product reputation, advertising, price, reviews, recommendations, and much more. Most of our choices are hardly the result of our individual tastes in a vacuum. And today, this research and decision-making process is increasingly happening online. 

That’s because most consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, and many of those consumers make their purchasing decision before they’ve entered a store or website. Today, it’s more important than ever to ensure products have a tangible, credible, and impressive online footprint so consumers have reliable information that increases the likelihood they’ll purchase a product. Today, word travels fast, and reviews (especially bad reviews) make their way back to consumers in warp speed. That means if an organization overlooks this moment of truth and doesn’t factor in how their reputation, visibility, and trustworthiness may affect their product or brand in the research phase, they’re making a grave mistake.  

First Moment of Truth

This interaction encapsulates a variety of aspects, including things as simple as packaging, presentation, and price. In other words, this is the moment where a consumer has the product in their hands but hasn’t yet used it. This is the stage where consumers are enticed or intrigued by a product, have likely done their research beforehand, and have combined these insights to form a purchase decision. Much like the zero moment of truth, design teams can overlook this aspect if they’re not careful – after all, the way products are perceived by consumers on the shelf can be just as important as they way these products perform after they’re off the shelf and in consumers’ hands. 

That’s because this moment of truth is also where, in consumers’ minds, products create their “promise.” Each product varies, but this is the moment when products and their characteristics tell consumers they’ll be durable, fast, valuable, timeless, and so on. This is the moment consumers form their expectations around. As such, this is the standard consumers use to judge whether a product lives (or doesn’t live) up to the promise it conveyed. This is a vital moment in the consumer process, but not the final, which is how the product actually delivers. 

Second Moment of Truth

This final moment of truth is when a consumer experiences a product or service following the purchase decision – in other words, this is when they get home and try it out. What’s most important to consider in this stage is simple: Does this product or service live up to its promises and consumers’ expectations (the expectations they formed in the first moment of truth)?

This is a moment of truth everyone has experienced at some point. For example, imagine you’ve made a reservation at a fancy-looking restaurant complete with tuxedo-clad servers, elegant decor, and pricey menu options. The reviews you’ve found online are glowing and the facade is second-to-none. But then you arrive and wait an hour to be seated, put up with a rude server, and eat expensive food that lacks any flavor or creativity for a purportedly upscale restaurant. This is an example of moments of truth that don’t align; in this case, the second moment of truth doesn’t match the first. As such, you’re unlikely to ever return to this restaurant because of a disappointing, frustrating, and costly experience that didn’t match your expectations.

Yet at the same time, have you ever been to a hole-in-the-wall spot that doesn’t look like much but has some of the best food you’ve ever tasted at fantastic prices? This is another example of mismatched moments of truth; in this case, the second doesn’t match the first, though in this case this is a positive revelation for the consumer. That said, the goal should always be to have aligned matching moments of truth so consumers’ experiences match their expectations. 

The reason moments of truth should align is because, as a consumer, there’s nothing like trying out a hyped-up product or service and finding out it lives up to the hype (and then some). Positive, invigorating experiences like these make consumers loyal, make companies and brands successful and trustworthy, and enrich the lives of consumers and producers alike. Today, it’s easier than ever to go online and find out which products deliver and which products don’t. When the moments of truth don’t match, nobody benefits in the long run. 

Bringing It All Together

Knowing these moments of truth and considering consumer experience is key to our aforementioned “human-centered” design philosophy. When our industrial design team sets out to create or improve a product or service, it considers consumers’ expectations, perceptions, and desired experiences and center them throughout the design lifecycle to create products that work for every stakeholder. Our team is cognizant of these moments of truth and strategizes to ensure they’re aligned and give consumers the best possible experience with a product, service, or brand. Ideally, our team strives to create products and services that consumers:

  • Would choose over any and all competition or similar products/services;
  • Believe live up to (or exceed) their expectations; 
  • And would recommend to friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Industrial design is an art and a science, and the lines can be muddy even to the world’s top agencies and organizations. That said, our industrial design team has the experience, knowledge, and creativity to turn any project into a winner. When design centers the human experience and delivers on people’s expectations, art becomes science and science becomes art – and when that happens, we’re all better for it and the world-changing projects that emerge from creative, thoughtful industrial design.

Visit the following links to learn more about our industrial design services and offerings, and be sure to read Part One of the Altair Industrial Design Series in case you missed it. And of course, stay tuned to catch the latest installments in the Altair Industrial Design Series.