Certain events in our lives stick with us. It could be your high school prom, getting into college, the heartbreak of losing a championship game or your wedding day. You likely don’t remember all the hours you worked to save for prom, the late nights you spent studying to get into college, all the practices or the dates that led up to those big events. Psychologists believe that, when we think of the experiences we’ve had, we don’t think of them in play-by-play or minute-by-minute terms. We focus instead on a few particular moments—the peaks, the pits and the transitions.
Several years ago, I traveled back to the United States from Europe on a Friday. I had planned my whole work week to ensure I was on a certain flight from Germany to Boston so I didn’t miss my daughter’s high school graduation on Saturday. While at the gate, they called my name over the loudspeakers to ask if I would switch seats so a family could sit together. Being a family man, I, of course, said yes. They thanked me and asked me to stand in a certain spot and said they would call me back up soon to give me a new seat assignment. I watched the flight board and waited patiently—until I saw them close the door to the jetway. Being a seasoned traveler, I knew this was a bad sign and they would not re-open the aircraft door to let me on that plane.
After some back-and-forth dialog with the gate agent, I was told that I probably wasn’t paying attention when they called my name. I asked for a manager, who then pulled me aside, apologized and said that they had made a mistake. They forgot about me. He gave me a boarding pass for a better seat on the earliest flight the next day, some cash and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I did make it back in time for the graduation and, more importantly, the party for my daughter.
In this story, there are pits—a missed flight, being forgotten and having a tough conversation with a junior person at the airline. But I really had to think about them. However, the peaks still stand out and stay front of mind—the honest conversation with the manager, a business-class seat, cash, the night in a nice hotel and making it to my daughter’s graduation. I remember that the airline took accountability, showed empathy, did the best they could do and, ultimately, fixed their mistake. I think more about the peaks than the pits in this example, and still, hold that airline in very high regard.
Keys to Define Powerful Moments and Create Loyalty
As executives, we tend to have our teams focus on the pits—outages and product failures. We also default to looking at our net promoter score (NPS) detractors and spend much of our resources and time moving mountains to fill those craters, hoping to move them up the scale. While it’s important to fill those potholes by resolving issues quickly, we begin to constantly triage and mask tactical moves as a strategy—all while trying to increase revenue.
It’s time to flip the script. Consider how the transitions and the peaks affect your customers’ experiences—and then design for memorable moments? These efforts will correlate to increased loyalty, advocacy and revenue growth.
We can be intentional about creating powerful moments when we understand what they are made of. In the book, “The Power of Moments,” authors Dan and Chip Heath identify four elements that define positive moments: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. It’s not necessary to have all these elements. But the more you can incorporate into your experiences, the more opportunities you have to create powerful and memorable moments.
Turn Pits Into Peaks and Standout Moments
In the book, “The Power of Moments,” the Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles, 94% of guests rate them as “Excellent” or “Very good.” That’s practically unheard of in the hotel service industry. When you do a quick scan, you would expect a sprawling five-star resort—not a quaint, sparsely furnished hotel. To achieved top-rated status in LA, this hotel created transitions and peaks for their customers—from their Popsicle Hotline, which is a red telephone that visitors use to order poolside popsicles that are served in white gloves and on a silver tray, to their extensive (and complimentary) snack menu.
In the grand scheme of a family vacation, these moments are small. However, the Magic Castle invested in designing certain elements, like elevation and connection, to build their transitions, create their peaks and strengthen their customer engagements. These moments fuel engagements and create loyal customers.
I still talk about my international flight—not in terms of how awful it was, but for how exceptionally the airline handled what could have been a terrible experience. The airline not only fixed the problem but also designed the transition and the ending.
Think of how you can create standout moments—design to deliver on elevation, insight, pride, and connection. I encourage you to attend our CX18 session 11:15 AM, Wednesday, May 2, “Taking Your Customers From Satisfied to Loyal to Advocate! Redefining Design and Delivery for Advocacy”. In the session, you will learn about the steps and insights you can take to build the peaks and intentionally design for exceptional moments that make your customer feel special and valued.