“Our lives as human beings are made up of moments,” said Dan Heath in my interview with him earlier this year. As business leaders, if we can understand and think about this, we can really work to identify moments in an operation where you can stand out and be memorable.
One of my most popular podcast episodes of this year features Dan Heath, co-author of the book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. Though not a CX book per se, it will definitely get you thinking about ways you can differentiate your brand and the experiences you provide to your customers.
SOME MOMENTS RISE ABOVE THE REST
According to Dan, a peak moment is a memorable experience that rises above the rest and tends to be comprised of 4 different elements. The elements that continuously show up in peak moments are: elevation, insight, pride, and being drawn to other people (I share the explanation of each element in my original show notes).
Dan shared a piece of advice that he learned from business leader, Scott Beck; “the secret to great service operations is that you’ve got to decrease negative variations and increase positive variance.” This is important when it comes to recognizing the value of the human element in your customer experience. It’s essential to your business to hire people with empathy, those who have the capacity to care and adjust to the situation presented.
When it comes to interacting with people, it takes a skilled employee who truly cares, to be able to adjust their role to fit the needs of the customer. For example, sharing more lessons learned from Scott, Dan goes on to say that at Einstein Brothers, a bagel shop, some customers come in and want small talk, some come in with tears in their eyes because of something that just happened, and some come in and are in a hurry. Being able to positively navigate these situations and serve the customer in a way that seems appropriate at the moment, is extremely important.
POWER MOMENTS CAN INCLUDE SPONTANEITY
A lot of companies institute loyalty programs, and though there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, Dan goes on to explain how injecting spontaneity in lieu of the loyalty card system becomes less of an expectation or entitlement and more of a nice treat for the customer. This spontaneity can be a power moment.
A CEO whom Dan spoke with, shared that cashiers have the ability to give away some things to customers for free, at their discretion. They have a bit of a “freebie” budget to work with. Let’s say a regular always comes in for a muffin, maybe the cashier will want to throw in a muffin here and there. The randomness keeps people from adapting or expecting a treat.
This type of behavior motivates and empowers the front line because they feel trusted, and they feel like they’re able to be creative. When your employees are allowed to have autonomy and the discretion to make things happen, they’re more satisfied with their jobs and can create a more pleasant experience for customers.
STOP WASTING TIME WHACK-A-MOLING PROBLEMS
Dan reminds us that as leaders, we can’t simply be content “fixing pothole” and one-off problems, we have to spend time building peaks. We need to invest in creating moments that will move the needle in terms of making customers happy and loyal. Whack-a-moling problems are incremental changes that don’t exactly shift the customer experience to one that’s memorable. Before you know it, you can end up spending your whole career fixing these little problems without creating something truly substantial.
About Dan Heath
Dan Heath is the co-author, along with his brother Chip, of four New York Times bestsellers: Made to Stick, Switch, Decisive, and their new book, The Power of Moments. The Heath Brothers books have sold over 2 million copies worldwide and been translated into 33 languages.
Dan has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the Plan II Honors Program from the University of Texas at Austin. One proud geeky moment for Dan was his victory in the 2005 New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, beating out 13,000 other entrants. He lives in Durham, NC.
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