If you ask customers to evaluate a service experience, they don’t consider each element of the experience and then average them out to come up with a summary impression. Instead, what they remember are the peaks and the pits – the exceptional highs and the exceptional lows. That’s one of the insights from an audiobook I’ve been listening to, The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath.
Dine at a restaurant where your meal is good, the ambience is pleasant, your server is capable … yet it took forever to get your food, what will be your dominant memory? The forever. The exceptional low. And if your meal is good, it arrived within a reasonable time, the ambience is pleasant, and your server is awesome, what you’re likely to remember is the awesome, the exceptional high.
The obvious conclusion is that you should strive to create peaks and not create pits.
Now, how do you create peaks? According to the Heaths, through powerful moments. And what makes a powerful moment? “Pleasant surprises”, things that completely “break the script” of what is expected. Like at the Magic Castle hotel in L.A. where they have a “popsicle hotline” by the pool. And your popsicle is delivered on a silver platter by a white-gloved server! That totally breaks the script. Can you even read that without smiling?
The same thing applies to employees. Consider the “First Day Experience” for new employees at John Deere locations in Asia. A person meets the new employee in the carpark to escort them to their desk. Upon entering the building there’s a flat-screen TV that says the employee’s name and “welcome”. A six-foot-tall banner next to their cubicle let’s people know a special new employee has started with the company. The employee’s first email is from the CEO. He welcomes the employee and wishes them a long and fruitful career. The employee’s boss takes them out to lunch. And a packaged gift on the employee’s desk, addressed to the employee, contains a nicely produced story of the company’s history and purpose, along with a company memento. How powerful is that?
Here’s the good news. You don’t have to wow customers or employees all the time. Or even most of the time. What you want to do is deliver good, reliable experiences most of the time, and punctuate those experiences with powerful moments some of the time.
Powerful moments don’t happen by chance, you have to create them. So here’s your task: give thought to one thing you can do to create a powerful moment for a customer or employee over the next week.
And create it.
Make it happen.
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