It’s an oddly satisfying feeling to unbox an Apple product. Guided by little tabs that need to be pulled, the content is miraculously revealed following a charming sequence, almost like a procession. It just takes about the right amount of time so that the unwrapping doesn’t get in the way too much but still provides a truly enjoyable moment. And lots of people seem to enjoy product unwrapping. Millions of viewers on YouTube following unboxing channels can’t be lying. Apparently, when there is an element of surprise, or it feels like the box was packaged and prepared with love, people tend to respond in kind.
The idea of gift-like wrapping for consumer products is not new. A Tiffany diamond ring comes in the iconic blue box, color code ‘Tiffany 1837’, referring to the founding year of the company. Chanel’s No. 5 has been sold in its signature bottle since the beginning. It was initially designed by Coco herself and only carefully updated eight times in the last hundred years. To emphasize their unique value, the finer things have always been presented in finer packaging, enriching the overall experience. Wrapping for ordinary products, on the other hand, was never meant to create excitement. Pragmatism ruled, and the package mostly ensured the product wouldn’t be damaged during transport. Until Apple and others discovered the potential that lies within that moment. They turned the dull event of opening a functional box into an enjoyable occasion. They made unboxing a Moment that Matters.
Every Customer Experience is the sum of a handful of moments when an emotional impression is made on the person resulting in a feeling, opinion, or action. The familiar menus, the restaurant layout, and the well-known taste of the Cheeseburger carry the McDonald’s experience. It’s the vast parking lot, the massive warehouse-style shopping hall, and the recognizable blue color that contributes to the Walmart experience. And if you find yourself on a plane from time to time, it’s how the flight attendants welcome you on board, the cleanliness and scent of the cabin, and the quality of the entertainment system that makes up for the memorable moments.
It’s all about the connection that people make. If a company can let a coherent approach shine through in each moment and ensure synchronization with all other moments across the whole experience, the easier the decision is made. People go for the one with more familiarity, and that feels better. That connection also turns a new customer into a regular—a predator into prey. Loyalty to your company is not only a matter of the greatness of your product, outstanding service, competitive pricing, or incredible marketing efforts. It’s all those elements acting in unison. The careful selection of Moments that Matter shapes your customer experience, and the magic starts to unfold when you make those moments reliable and repeatable. And that calls for a short excurse. How many touchpoints does a customer have with your company? It’s more than you would think, but not all are equally important. The trick is to identify those few that help create the memory trace and allow the customer to become familiar with who you are and how you do business.
We call those few touchpoints the ‘Moment that Matters,’ but we’ve seen many different names for the same thing. Like ‘signature’ or ‘legendary’ moments. They all mean the same thing.
Imagine the Moments That Matter that carries the customer experience like the pillars of a Greek temple carrying the roof. And the math is about the same; 4 pillars are enough for a simple foundation, and 8 are probably better, but if you increase the number beyond 10-15 and up, each pillar does not carry significant weight anymore. The experience becomes generic and less recognizable. Trying to be everything for everyone is bad for your business model. Imagine a radio station that plays classic, rock, blues, jazz, and techno. The speaker says, ‘Hi everyone, this is WRCRBJT, and right after we play this unknown Bach Cantata, we’ll be diving into the latest from Justin Bieber. Stay tuned. Hard to imagine that this attracts more than a little niche population. Limit your Moments that Matter to the space you are in. Apple will never introduce a cheap product; Walmart will never want to be Whole Foods, and it is hard to imagine that Chanel will ever be sold in a CVS pharmacy. Moments that Matter is anything but random. A great Customer Experience follows a particular idea, and it’s the Moments that Matter that amplifies and conveys that idea.
Winning a new customer is a fragile process. First impressions matter, and when things go wrong early on, it is hard to turn a negative perception into a good one. Because there are so many available alternatives for customers – it is good to remind yourself occasionally that everything is a commodity or on its way to becoming one – customers may decide on other brands in a snap. The Moments that Matter allows your organization to focus on what’s relevant and deliver a defined standard in every situation.
Moments that Matter are spread out across the whole value chain: Marketing, Sales, Order Processing, Product or Service Delivery, Customer Service, and Customer Feedback. Only a consistent approach in all those instances creates a customer experience with the potential to turn one-timers into regulars. For traditional organizations that work in a functional setup, that poses a challenge. Typically, departments have focused on playing their role in the organization, but there has often been little incentive to work across the value chain. Too often, the sales department hands over a newly won customer only to disappear completely right after the sale – their role is to hunt orders, not hold a customer’s hand, aka ensuring a consistent customer experience. If it’s a manufactured product, there often is an astounding gap between the service people who take the customers’ angry calls and the manufacturers who make the product. They play by lean principles and seek to continuously improve productivity and throughput times, not the customer experience. In the traditional setup, no department’ owns’ the Moments that Matter in their entirety. Moments that Matter creates awareness and focus for everyone who contributes.
By identifying the moments that matter to customers, organizations can focus on the most important aspects of the customer experience from the customer perspective, and optimize the products, services, and processes to meet customer needs, make their lives easier and enjoyable, and build loyalty and maximize returns on investments.