Providing outstanding service that exceeds customers' expectations requires us to win the moments of truth.
What is a moment of truth? It is a situation that represents a crossroad in the customer's experience. Go the wrong way, and the customer will have a very unpleasant memory. Go the right way, and you may earn a customer for life.
Here is an example of a moment of truth that earned American Airlines my loyalty for many years:
I was checking in for my flight home after a long business trip when I learned that my flight had been cancelled due to bad weather. There wasn't another flight out until the next morning.
The ticketing agent told me that the airline wasn't required to provide hotel accommodations for passengers if the cancellation was weather related. However, he also told me that weather wasn't yet officially listed in his computer system as the reason for cancellation. He decided to bend the rules and handed me a voucher for a nice hotel that night.
I wasn't getting home, but at least I had a comfortable place to stay!