Harnessing Moments to Create Experiences

Harnessing Moments to Create Experiences, by Haley Hansen

What if I told you that there is a science to creating positive, memorable experiences for your customers and your employees?

Thanks to authors Dan and Chip Heath, there certainly is! Dan and Chip are academic researchers - Dan works with Duke, and Chip is a professor at Stanford - and they also happen to be brothers. You might know them from their books Decisive, Made to Stick, or Switch, and I recently finished reading their latest book, The Power of Moments. This book is all about how and why certain experiences really stick with us and leave a lasting impact, and how we can use what we know to create lasting experiences for others.

As the Heaths explain, experience and memory are tricky concepts to quantify. The thing is, neither one really follows the pattern we would usually expect. However, we know for certain that memorable experiences - which the Heaths call "Defining Moments" - leave a long and significant impact in our minds.

According to Chip and Dan, Defining Moments include one or more of the following moments:

1. Moments of Elevation - These moments make you feel important, alive, and present. For example, can you recall a time when a customer service representative went off script and said something really nice to you that made you feel particularly happy? More likely than not, that experience has (or will) stuck with you for a very long time.

2. Moments of Insight - You know that feeling when a really big, important light bulb goes off for you? These "eureka" moments create powerful feelings for everyone included.

3. Moments of Pride - Everyone loves to achieve, and the feeling of pride that comes with it. Whether the accomplishment is large or small, or won by an individual or a group, these memories last a lifetime.

4. Moments of Connection - Humans are social creatures, and we feed on the energy of those around us. (If you have been feeling sluggish and disconnected since the COVID outbreak started, you might be lacking these moments of connection.)

Defining Moments can be positive or negative, and either option creates a lasting memory. They often appear around Moments of Transition, like birthdays, weddings, births, changing jobs, moving to a new house, or a death in the family. At work, these might include new hires, promotions, new organizational structures, or new acquisitions.

The funny part about these Defining Moments, though, is that while we remember the experience we do not remember the entire experience. Rather, we remember the best or worst parts and we remember the end. Think about a trip to Disney World, for example. If you've ever been, you probably remember some of the worst parts of the trip: waiting in line, or perhaps the occasional tantrum from young children. In addition, you probably remember some of your favorite experiences: riding your favorite rides or meeting your favorite characters. And you almost certainly remember what the end of that trip felt like - whether it was walking out of the gates on the final day, or running to get back in line for one last ride. Maybe it was picking out that perfect pair of mouse ears to wear on the way home. But you likely don't immediately recall some of the more neutral moments, like eating lunch (side note - you might remember the overpriced food) or walking between sections of the parks. 

Creating Defining Moments

Once we know how Defining Moments work, we can start to use what we know to create them in our organizations, both for our employees and for our customers.

Around the office, we can use Defining Moments to celebrate team members or introduce new policies. Did we have a great quarter? Let's create a defining moment by bringing everyone together (Connection) and show everyone that their great work made it possible (Pride). Is someone retiring? Let's create a Moment of Elevation by letting them know how much they have meant to the company.

Since we really only remember the best and worst parts of our experiences at work, it's important to create peak experiences so our team members have important, positive memories associated with their jobs. If we go too long without a peak experience, we're left only with memories of the hard times and burnout becomes more likely. These experiences can take many forms - potluck lunch, after-hours events, company outings, talent contests, and much more (our Solutions Team has all kinds of ideas for powerful ways to create these peak experiences - just ask us!).

What can you do to create a Definining Moment for your team today?


You can find your own copy of The Power of Moments right here. Alloy Solutions may earn a commission if you purchase through this link, but this does not affect the price you pay. Keep in mind that our team recommended this book because of its quality, not because of a commission.

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