The Power of Moments Book Review

This month, I’ve been reading Chip and Dan Heath’s really excellent book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.

This is a thought-provoking book, packed with case studies and stories but also fielding a good amount of research, backed up by solid action points.

One of the major takeaways for me was that, especially in corporate life, we want to add a process or system to everything we do. And yet we may very well be removing some of the most delightfully random and elevating opportunities to create moments for our staff and customers, in attempting to build such systems.

Don’t underestimate the difficulty of making “moments” happen. As the authors themselves observe, the concept is simple but the execution is hard. And most of the reason for this is, it’s no-one’s job to create those moments. To create a peak experience, one has to step outside of the day to day, in all the ways.

So here are my top 5 takeaways and quotes:

The Power of Moments: Top 5 Takeaways

  • You can actively create peak moments for customers by thinking differently. The authors begin the book by asking why we remember certain peak life experiences. What do those experiences have in common, and how can that be harnessed by businesses looking to provide peak customer experiences and really memorable moments?
  • Too many of us are following the customer service script that’s standard for our industry. In hotels for example, especially the standard chain hotels, almost everything follows a very standard script of basic customer fulfilment rather than seeking out moments of delight. Check-in, room key, bottle of water by the bed etc. The authors ask us to consider how we might be able to break to script in our industries. To step outside of what we automatically expect to happen and introduce truly memorable moments.
  • Do you ever ‘delightfully surprise’ your customers? The tricky thing with moments is that if they become ‘planned’ or ‘routine’ then customers come to expect them (and might actually start to complain if they stop happening in the future!) The knack here is to break the script consistently enough that it matters – but not so consistently that customers adapt to it. For example, Pret a Manger staff each have a discretionary amount of food and drink they can give away to customers in a given week. There’s no more guidance than that about it – if they like the look of you, you might get something for free.
  • The happiest people in any industry tend to spend more. Chip and Dan quotes recent Forrester research which shows just how much satisfaction affects spend level. They show that by making ‘middling’ customer happier, you can earn nearly 9 times more revenue than by trying to eliminate unhappy customers. They argue that negative feedback can feel so much worse than positive feedback, that we overly-obsess about it and as a result try to fix that, rather than elevating middle customers.
  • Effective recognition is personal, not programmatic. The authors argue that as soon as something becomes “routine” its efficacy is often reduced. They discuss how schemes such as “employee of the month” loses its shine very quickly, and they contrast it with a manager at Eli Lily who uses tailored rewards that are much more effective. Through these, the manager is able to communicate ‘I saw what you did and I appreciate it.” These are important learnings for customer services and support teams; where we often drive reward schemes on a routine basis.

The Power of Moments: Top 5 Quotes

  • “Think of this as the first stage of a successful customer experience. First, you fill the pits [as opposed to peaks of moments]. That, in turn, frees you up to focus on the second stage: creating the moments that will make the experience “occasionally remarkable” Fill pits, then build peaks. What’s striking, through, is that many business leaders never pivot to that second stage. Instead, having filled the pits in their service, they scramble to save potholes – the minor problems and annoyances. It’s as though the leaders aspire to create a complaint-free service rather than an extraordinary one.”
  • “Companies in this era of apps and personal tracking devices have grown much smarter about surfacing milestones that were previously invisible… to think in moments is to be attuned to transitions and milestones. ”
  • “One simple diagnostic to gauge whether you’ve transcended the ordinary is if people feel the need to pull out their cameras. If they take pictures, it must be a special occasion.. Our instinct to capture a moment says: I want to remember this. That’s a moment of elevation.
  • “I have high expectations for you and I know you can meet them. So try this new challenge and if you fail, I’ll help you recover. That’s mentorship in two sentences. It sounds simple, yet it’s powerful enough to transform careers.”
  • “To spark moments of connection for groups, we must create shared meaning. That can be accomplished by three strategies: (1) creating a synchronised moment; (2) inviting shared struggle; and (3) connecting to meaning.

The authors have a great knack for breaking down large goals (such as, ‘improve customer satisfaction by 30%) into more motivating milestones for teams (such as, receive one glowing piece of customer feedback this week). It’s a superb book for anyone in CX or CS.

Finally, I loved the parting shot from the Heath brothers in this book (spoiler alert!)…

They say, what if we didn’t just remember the defining moments in our lives but we made them? Powerful stuff. Happy reading.

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