In The Power of Moments, the Heath brothers identify four metatypical defining moments. Elevation moments transcend ordinary experience, like the arrival of an ice-pop on a silver platter. Insight moments rewire our understanding of the world, like George de Mestral pulling burrs from his clothes after a hike and getting the idea for a new kind of fastener that he named Velcro. Moments of pride accompany achievement, which is why employee recognition is such a powerful tool. And moments of connection — like weddings, graduations, and retirements — strengthen relationships.
Transitions, Peaks, and Pits
The problem with defining moments is that leaders and organizations often don’t recognize them and thus miss the opportunities they harbor. To solve that problem, Heath says, companies should start “thinking in moments” by looking for the transitions, peaks, and pits in their customer and employee experiences.
Transitions are the most undervalued and underexplored moments. “Most companies don’t have a great first-day experience planned for their new employees, even though that’s a really key transition,” Heath says. “When a customer calls her insurer because she’s had a kid and bought an SUV, there’s an opportunity to create a moment of connection. And what if a homeowner paid off his mortgage and a bank manager came to his home to present the deed and shake his hand, instead of charging an additional fee for the deed transfer? Nobody’s doing that.”
Peaks are obvious opportunities for creating defining moments, but often companies don’t take full advantage of them. “Retirement dinners are typically about elevation — there’s a special dinner — and connection, by bringing together people that the retiree has worked with over the years,” explains Heath. “But none of the ones I’ve been to include giving retirees a chance to hold the floor and talk about insights they’ve gained over the years. It seems so obvious. Why wouldn’t we add insight to that moment? And why wouldn’t we add pride to that moment by celebrating all the projects that we’ve worked on with this person and the progress that we’ve made?”
Pits — like negative performance reviews and corporate downturns — are less obvious opportunities to create defining moments. But, Heath says, “A moment of pain can be a tremendously important human experience. There are a range of negative emotions in customer experiences and employee experiences that nobody’s really tackling.” Pits also can be invaluable sources of insight. When Sara Blakely was growing up, her father asked the same question of her and her brothers once a week, “What did you guys fail at this week?” It normalized failure for Blakely and taught her not to fear it. That insight paid off in spades when money men who just didn’t get her idea for footless pantyhose rejected it over and over. Twelve years later, Spanx made Blakely the youngest self-made female billionaire in history.
Attention to (One) Detail
One of Heath’s goals in writing The Power of Moments is to expand our understanding of experiences. “The whole literature on customer experience and employee experience is essentially focused around delight,” he says. “There’s a lot of journey mapping of the entire customer experience aimed at identifying low points and trying to buck them up.”
But you don’t need to perfect every moment in the customer’s experience.
“Jan Carlzon [former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines] coined the phrase ‘moments of truth’ and talked about getting right the thousands of touchpoints with customers that happen daily,” continues Heath. “I don’t think you have to fix thousands of touchpoints. Maybe you want to have one defining moment at the gate and one moment at the luggage reclaim area. Maybe you want to invest in an entertaining flight safety video that people actually enjoy watching, like Virgin America.”
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