Creating exceptional client experiences doesn't happen by accident. Establishing a loyal client-base, or customers-for-life, also requires intention, forethought, and planning. Delivering a ‘good’ service and meeting clients' expectations is one thing, but true loyalty happens when these expectations are blown away. This book, ‘The Power of Moments', changed the way I think about client development and that individual moments make all the difference. The great news is that, by understanding the science behind these moments, you can stack the odds in your favor and create your own “raving fans” in the process.
Planning for Exceptional Client Experiences
Before jumping into my favorite highlights from this brilliant book, I wanted to share some context that explains where most firms get stuck on making extraordinary experiences a consistent part of their go-to-market strategy. Typically, most businesses focus on eliminating events that lead to negative outcomes. Much of the business of law is built around this, helping individuals and companies navigate risk and avoid unwanted legal surprises.
With client relationships, it makes business sense to focus attention on avoiding NEGATIVE experiences. The significance of a negative event (think failing to meet a client's requirements) is likely to have a detrimental & imminent impact on the longevity of the business relationship.
At the POSITIVE end of the spectrum, Professional Services firms will typically have key client and client development programs that are engineered to build ‘Positive Peaks’. These are moments along the customer journey that stand out as being compelling, memorable, and significantly act as a differentiator from your competitors (client hospitality, sporting fixtures, events, workshops, etc.). Understanding the science behind these moments will help you to be more deliberate and successful in driving remarkable client experiences.
Once you identify how to limit the occurrence of NEGATIVE pits along your customer journey, GREAT firms then focus on fostering moments that create meaning and connection with your clients. This will have a long-term emotional impact on how they perceive your firm and your people. This book, backed up by the authors' research, highlights how you can tap into and harness the power of moments. I've picked out a few of my most memorable sections below.
How can we Make Moments that Matter? (p.12)
Defining moments can turn transactional connections into meaningful and lasting relationships. Building a successful client experience can be summarized as “mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable”. Mostly forgettable because we're typically hired to solve a problem/deliver a service. In achieving the desired outcome for a client, we neither create a pit nor a peak in their customer journey. Occasionally remarkable, however, is fueled by defining moments. This is what takes a flat-line customer experience and turns it into a lasting relationship filled with meaningful peaks and connection.
What characterizes these defining moments?
ELEVATION - defining moments rise above the every day. To achieve this, the authors encourage you to “break the script”. The moment has to go beyond your clients' day-to-day expectation of your customer service.
PRIDE - defining moments capture us at our best. Think celebrating a big win/milestone.
INSIGHT - defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world.
CONNECTION - defining moments are social experiences. They are strengthened because we share them with others.
Thinking in Moments (p.33)
“Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled. That's the essence of thinking in moments.”
Transitions include moments like your key stakeholder getting a promotion, starting at a new company, or the end of a big project that you have been working on together.
Milestones think big work anniversaries, retirements, a contact has a child or gets married, or there is an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable achievement - your contact/client gets nominated for an award, is appointed into a hall of fame, runs a marathon, hosts a fundraising event
Pits include how you react to negative events. This is either in relation to your firm's service delivery. When something goes wrong along the customer journey, how you react is often more important than the initial problem. Or, if something bad happens in a contact's personal life, whilst we all hope not to have to plan for bad things happening, when they do, it creates an opportunity to humanize your relationship and be there for people - recognizing that there are often more important things happening in life than work-related issues.
Building Peaks & Playing Offense (p.55-61)
PLAY OFFENSE! You cannot make every single element of your customer journey perfect!
Once you have filled any glaringly obvious pits, move onto the process of elevation. A lot of firms will seek to fill potholes after filling pits.
“To create fans, you need the remarkable, and that requires peaks. Peaks don't emerge naturally. They must be built.”
Stretching, Learning, and Self-Insight (p.130)
The book covers the brilliant story of Sara Blakely founding Spanx and the numerous challenges she encountered on her road to success. Particularly focused on how, as we get exposed to more risk, there is more opportunity for us to stretch and learn.
As you start identifying the next generation of leaders within your firm, it's important to balance how you expose them to risk. If you create too much of a safety blanket, then you eliminate the value of stretching and fostering moments of self-insight. This has the inherent effect of making people scared of failing.
Blakely, on the other hand, was brought up in an environment where her father would ask her and her brother at the dinner table: “What did you guys fail at this week?”. Being encouraged to try something and fail meant she grew up unafraid of failure.
“The promise of stretching is not success, it's learning. It's self-insight.”
Using Milestones to Create a Forward-Looking Strategy (p.165)
If you are working toward a common goal with a client, you can multiply the number of milestones you experience together. Instead of waiting until you achieve the end result to celebrate, often a long-term outcome can be broken down into achievable chunks. Companies like Fitbit and Candy Crush excel at using our desire to achieve milestones.
“Success comes from pushing to the finish line. What milestones do is compel us to make that push, because (a) they're within our grasp, and (b) we've chosen them precisely because they're worth reaching for. Milestones define moments that are conquerable and worth conquering.”
Implementation Intentions (p.186)
Implementation intentions preload our response to triggers. As the book explains, the success rate of having an implementation intention is striking. Thinking about this in the context of client relationships, implementation intentions can help ensure you achieve action/follow up from your broader team.
Committing to Action (p.262)
The book closed with a compelling reminder that a number of the powerful stories shared were not stories about sudden realizations, but rather stories about action.
“Often, what looks like a moment of serendipity is actually a moment of intentionality.”
“This is what we hope you take away from this book: Stay alert to the promise moments hold.”