The closer for EntreCon was author Dan Heath.
He and his brother Chip authored a new book, “The Power of Moments.” It is an addition to their catalogue, which includes business essential reads “Switch,” “made to Stick,” and “Decisive.”
Heath is also a senior fellow at Duke University’s CASE Center, which supports entrepreneurs who fight for social good.
Heath said this is the era of the experience. Customers, clients and even employees are judging companies and organizations not only on the what is provided them, but also on the experience created around getting that thing.
Companies now use language to express that — the customer experience, the patient experience, the student experience, the employee experience.
Heath said in studying how people rate and remember experiences, some trends emerge.
One phenomenon is called duration neglect. Essentially, it is when we remember an experience, the length of experience fades away, leaving us with just the moments we remember.
Over time, when we think of a family vacation to Disney World, the memory of how long we stood in line at Disney World, how hot was, how whiny the kids were fades.
What remains vivid is the fun we had together.
Then comes the peak-end rule: You tend to remember the peak of the experience and the end of the experience. Again, Heath said, consider the Disney paradox. While you’re there, you might rate the experience a 6.5 out of 10. Looking back, it’s a 9.
Because you remember the high points, and how you felt at the end of the trip.
“Great experiences hinge on peak moments,” Heath said. “In the business world, we’re not taught to make peaks. We’re taught to fix problems.”
There are, Heath said, four elements of peak moments:
— Elevation. These moments lift us above the every day.
— Insight. They reveal something about the way we view ourselves or the world changes. The “Eureka moment.”
— Pride. They reflect times when we were recognized, honored, when we stood up to do the right thing.
— Connection. Something about these moments draws us closer together to other people.
“We might think if we want to build a great experience, it’s got to be end-to-end greatness,” Heath said. “But really, a great experience is mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable.”
But if you leave off the remarkable extra effort, you’re left with just forgettable. “I think this is the story of 90 percent of service businesses out there.”
In a typical survey, businesses will ask people to rate the experience on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being terrible, 10 being terrific. You could use that information one of two ways.
What if you could eliminate the 1, 2, 3’s — the really negative reviews and feedback — and get them to neutral. Or, you can get the neutrals — the people who gave it a score of 5-7 — up to positive.
Which strategy would pay off more?
Based on research, Heath found that moving the neutrals to positives, would be nine times more valuable. But companies typically spend 80 percent of their effort trying to move the complaints and problems.
“We play all defense and no offense,”
Focusing on getting people to neutral — to celebrating the simply satisfied customer — does not create a great experience.
It’s like seeking reward and recognition for long drive on the interstate free of potholes.
“The absence of a pothole is not a peak,” Heath said. “And great experiences hinge on peaks.”
Later he prompted the audience to make eye contact with someone they didn’t know and then use these four questions to have a five-minute chat.
— If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one ability or quality what would it be?
— If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
— Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
— What do you value most in a friendship?
“Have a good conversation,” Heath told the crowd.
It only took a moment, but soon the theatre hummed. With talk, some laughing, people talking with their hands.
When the five minutes ended, it was tough to get the crowd back.
The questions are drawn from a study of interpersonal closeness. In the larger study, after people spent about 45 minutes answering some 36 questions the closeness ratings they gave these people — whom they’d just met — resembled the numbers people gave their best friends, partners and mothers.
Part of the reason behind that is that the exercise created responsiveness between these people. One asked a question, the other answered and then vice versa.
More research from social psychologists show that all of our relationships are stronger when are partners are responsive to us. “Responsiveness makes people feel noticed and valued,” Heath said.
Which is why businesses and organizations that succeed in creating a customer experience that feels very personalized, that creates a place where, as they used to on “Cheers”, everybody knows your name, enjoy great customer loyalty.
Now, Heath challenged the audience, what if you treated employees like that?
What if they were the people you wanted to have the “wow moment”?
That would be a pretty great place to work, eh?