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‘The Power of Moments’ can propel a business to the next level

Real estate investing

Birthdays. Graduations. Quinceañeras. Weddings. Proms. Anniversaries. These are all defining moments that impact people in positive ways, but is there more that can be gleaned from such milestones?

Brothers Chip and Dan Heath argue in their book The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact that cultivating these kinds of moments in everyday life can lead to greater connection, better memories, and enhanced well-being for both individuals and businesses.

power of moments cover

The trick of memory dictates that a brand or a business can build a relationship with a customer by focusing on details that resonate, as Chip and Dan Heath suggest in their book, The Power of Moments. (Credit: Simon & Schuster)

In short, defining moments “improve the experience of customers or patients or communities.” For a real estate investor, or any business where the customer experience is paramount, understanding these moments and how to create them for customers is a huge win. 

Moments brings a fresh, innovative spin to the idea of customer service and offers advice on how to connect with clients in an unforgettable way.

The Heaths have a long track record of boiling down sometimes elusive concepts into easy-to-understand and actionable ideas in a series of best-selling books, from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die to Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

The Power of Moments, published in 2017, is the most recent installment in their collaboration, and it highlights their distinctive knowledge base. Chip is a professor at Stanford University’s graduate school of business, and Dan is a senior fellow at Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship.

popsicle hotline

The Magic Castle Hotel in L.A. excels at creating memories. For example, beside the pool, there is this phone where kids can call for a popsicle and have it delivered whenever they want. (Credit: Instagram/Magic Castle Hotel) 

But how can things like a popsicle and free laundry vault a hotel to the top of the list of accommodations in one of the luxury capitals of the world? Part of the answer lies in what psychologists call the peak-end rule.

The Heaths write that “research has found that in recalling an experience, we ignore most of what happened and focus instead on a few particular moments.” They take this finding and run with it, maintaining that it should be a central premise of anyone building a customer service experience. 

We pay less attention to the details of an experience, and tend to instead come away with just memories of “flagship moments: the peaks, the pits, and the transitions.” 

Thus, the outsized power of the popsicle hotline.

The Heaths have identified 4 building blocks of defining moments: 

  • Elevation
  • Insight
  • Pride
  • Connection

Not every moment needs to contain all of the building blocks, the authors write, but they should incorporate at least one. 

The Magic Castle, for example, has mastered the art of elevation. What could have been a simple outing to the pool becomes a highly unusual experience, just by adding a popsicle — engineered in a very specific way — to the mix.

Building peak moments for customers, and employees

And that’s the idea businesses need to focus on: How can people and business owners build in peak moments to their lives and the lives of their customers and employees? 

The Heaths provide a road map over the course of 12 chapters that draw on engrossing psychology and business research to tease out the DNA of each building block. 

Even a section abstractly titled of “Moments of Pride” delivers a flurry of practical, meat-and-potato guidance that ranges from why employee-of-the-month programs are so sadly unsuccessful  (“Effective recognition is personal, not programmatic”) to how “multiplying” and “surfacing” meaningful milestones (like Josh Clark’s “Couch to 5K,” a free program that gets people off the sofa and running their first-ever 5k race in just 9 weeks) can become a basic building block of a successful moment.

What can an individual real estate investor glean from The Power of Moments? A lot, as it turns out. Planning an open house for a rental propertyElevate the experience so that it becomes memorable. Bake cookies. Serve drinks. Light candles.

Looking for ways to retain top renters? Devise a milestone event to thank them each year. Send a gift bag or a restaurant coupon. 

Alas, there’s no simple prescription for how to craft these experiences so that they land as intended. In fact, the Heaths admit that “the concept is simple but the execution is hard.” 

It may take time, iterations, and a dose of creativity to pull them off. But the payoffs — everything from loyalty to referrals — may be more than worth the effort. 

And if an investor is skillful enough to nail their own version of the popsicle hotline, it may be a small investment that will provide dividends for many years to come.

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