In Chip and Dan Heath’s new book, The Power of Moments, they ask you, the reader to imagine taking your children to Disney World for a one-day visit. During this visit, you are to text Chip and Dan every hour and rate the experience on a scale of 1-10. The days ratings might look like this:
9 a.m.: Cattle herding your kids out of the hotel room. There’s excitement in the air. Rating: 6.
10 a.m. Riding ‘It’s a Small World” together with parents and children each under the impression that the other must be enjoying this. Rating: 5
11 a.m. Feeling a dopamine rush after riding the Space Mountain roller coaster. Your kids are begging to ride it again. Rating: 10
Noon: Enjoying expensive park food with your kids, who might enjoy it less if they knew you bought it with their college fund. (the Heaths throw in lots of humor in this book). Rating: 7
1 p.m. Waiting in line for 45 minutes in 96 degree central Florida heat, trying to keep your son from gnawing on the handrails. Rating: 3
2 p.m. Buying mouse-ear hats on the way out of the park. Your kids look so cute. Rating: 8
If you average the scores, you come up with 6.5. Not a bad day. But, they point out, that if you are asked a few weeks later to rate the overall experience, you would be very likely to rate it at 9. The reason: psychologists tell us that we do this because of the way human memory works. We tend to focus on a few particular moments, which they call “peaks.” Consequently, we remember Space Mountain and buying the mouse-ear hats and everything else fades into the background.
Of course, if the experience is marked by an extremely negative experience, say your son falls off the ride and breaks his arm, that will likely dominate your memories of the day and draw your overall score way down. The Heaths call these moments “pits.”
Either way, the Heath brothers’ point is that our memory of an experience is dominated by a few specific moments, either peaks or pits, rather than an amalgamation of the entire process.
>>This phenomenon has powerful applications in many walks of life. For example:
The Power Of Moments In Customer Loyalty
If you are trying to improve your customer service ratings, it behooves you to think about the special moments you can provide that will stand out in your customers’ memories. My favorite department store is Nordstrom to whom I am extremely loyal because of a “peak moment” I experienced with them in 1992. I was getting dressed in a hotel to give a speech when I discovered I had forgotten to bring my dress shoes. All I had to wear were the flip flops I’d worn on the plane the night before. I’d heard about Nordstrom’s great service so I looked them up in the phone book and called. It was 8:00 am so I expected they would be closed, and they were, but a security guard answered the phone. He got a sales clerk named Monica to help me and after hearing my problem, she offered to bring the shoes out to my hotel. To this day, I buy all my business clothes at Nordstrom. Monica’s management of that magic moment bought my loyalty for life.
The Power Of Moments In Employee Loyalty
Back in the 1970s, I worked as a carpenter for four years. It was hard work and I wasn’t very good at it so when the end on a jobsite neared, I was usually one of the first to be let go. My memories of those years are vaguely grim but the one moment stands out was when a foreman that I respected told me that I was doing great work and to keep it up. It’s been 40 years since that day, but I still remember clearly the feeling of elation it gave me. It was a “peak” in a four-year field of pits.
In their book, the Heaths challenge the reader to create special moments for customers, employees, family, friends, spouses and lovers because those are what those people will remember about us. The Heaths also provide a plethora of suggestions of how to create those moments, breaking them down into categories like “Moments of Elevation” like the Disney experience and “Moments of Pride” like my carpenter experience. There’s also “Moments of Insight” and “Moments of Connection.” They describe the psychological impacts of each and how you can set the stage for them to happen. It’s a read well worth taking, whether you are a manager, a family member, a friend, a spouse or a lover. Check it out.