Quick: Think back to your last vacation. What stands out to you as the most memorable aspects of your trip?
If you’re like most people, you’ll recall the extremes (aka the “peak” moments) and the end (unless your trip just wound down to the travel equivalent of milk toast). Research shows that we tend not to remember the overall experience of our vacation. Instead, our memories weed out the routine or even fun parts (as well as some of the down moments like that crowded flight getting there or the three-day-old sushi). Thus, if you want to have more amazing memories on a trip, build in some major highlights and finish well.
The same thing applies to brand experiences. You can muster all your customer service reps to try and optimize every touchpoint a consumer has with your brand, but that not only gets expensive, it may not matter. Your audiences will likely forget all the good moments because we’ve come to expect “good” from products and services. This is why measuring customer “satisfaction” doesn’t really help you: no one today wants to be merely satisfied. We want great. Outstanding. Awesome.
But how do you make every touchpoint a superlative? You don’t have to. Just concentrate on creating those peak and end experiences, those defining moments.
In their book, The Power of Moments, authors Chip and Dan Heath lay out a helpful framework for how to create such moments. Normally, it’s easy to think of those standout moments in our lives as being accidental or circumstantial. But as the Heaths point out, they can be constructed and intentional without any loss of impact or authenticity.
The authors provide a simple framework for the four elements that make defining moments. In general, a defining moment will be or contain one or more of the following:
- Elevated: The moment stands out from routine (which is why trips tend to provide more than their share of defining moments: everything is different when you’re away from the norm of home). One way to do this is, as the Heaths point out, is “to break the script.” Change how a customer expects to be treated. Surprise her by doing something extravagant. Build in elements of surprise.
- Insight: That “aha” moment when suddenly everything becomes clear or a knotty challenge gets resolved, those are moments of insight. Help customers achieve these by applying good storytelling principles of showing versus telling. Let them reach their own conclusions. That could mean helping them see your products in a new light or with a different application, or how your services could solve their problems in an unexpected way.
- Pride: These are moments of accomplishment, usually accompanied by recognition. Reward programs can help here, but when those become expected, they become entitlements and you lose the elevated nature of the surprise. How can you help your customers to achieve something meaningful to them and then recognize them for that accomplishment?
- Connection: This is the relational component where we feel connected to others. Sporting events do this all the time when fans bond over their team. Work teams do this over intense projects. Customers can do this with your brand when a customer rep reaches out and makes a personal connection.
The Power of Moments provides numerous examples and strategies for each point. For a quick summary, check out Dan Heath's talk. From a brand perspective, the power of The Power of Moments lies in making it easier to engage your audiences with experiences they’ll remember and that matter to them. And when that happens, they’ll be far more willing to forgive any less-than-stellar experience they may have had with the brand. They’ll also be more likely to tell their friends about your fabulous company.
Steve Brock is the owner of BrandWallop. He has 30 years of experience partnering with some of the nation's leading corporations and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of branding, internet and social marketing.
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