I walked into an all-day meeting back in February, and on one of the tables I saw a piece of notebook paper with my name and a heart written on it. To the side of the paper was a Starbucks tea (I abhor coffee) and a bottle of water. moments-that-matter-starbucks-tea While it was a small gesture, I remember feeling delighted that someone in this room full of people had thought of me specifically. All of a sudden, I wasn’t just one of many. I was someone special. It was a moment that mattered to me. This little gesture was from my talented co-worker, Deena Zenyk, who is a natural at creating “Moments That Matter.” A Moment That Matters (MTM) is a transformative snippet of time where someone does something that makes a lasting emotional impression on how you feel about them and your relationship with them.

Why “Moments That Matter” matter

We are all constantly driven by emotional capital, whether it’s choosing a dog food or deciding to attend a conference. There is emotion behind everything we do. Even making a practical choice based on budget still has underlying emotional reasoning (i.e. “I want to be known as a responsible individual” or “I am worried about having enough money.”) When we are able to create a specific moment that has high positive emotional capital with another person, we impact their feelings about the relationship. More importantly, we give them a story that is a concise and easy way to sum up their relationship with you and easily share it. And giving someone a story is one of the most empowering things you can do.

Creating Moments That Matter with your customers

In our personal lives, we may frequently go the extra mile to “surprise and delight” people we care about. However, they are more rare and almost never expected in our business interactions, which are for the most part very transactional—I give you this and you give me that. The unexpectedness and rarity of Moments That Matter is an extremely powerful way to build relationships with customers. In the business world, this might be the line between happy customer and a true advocate.

When we have real, personal stories to share about a company, brand, or experience, our relationship is transformed into something more meaningful. (Click to Tweet)

For example, last week my family and I were at Disney World enjoying a free vacation (talk about creating moments that matter!) including a stay at a top resort.

After being personally walked to our room by the manager, the first thing that caught my eye was a small table with three plates, each containing three enormous cookies. The cookies themselves would have been a nice treat, but what made this a “post-worthy” experience was that each plate had a welcome message written in chocolate for each of my three little guys. moments-that-matter-cookies The personalization—the fact that someone took the time to look up the names of three of the most important people in my life—took this gesture from good to great and created a lasting impression. At Influitive, I often encourage my team to take the opportunity to create a MTM. In the recent past, one of our customers was struggling to find time to put in the work to get their instance of our software off the ground. Rather than just continuing the cycle of trying to motivate through a chain of emails, his Advocacy Consultant decided to take a more memorable and inspiring approach. Knowing he was up against a deadline that would include some overtime to get the program launched, she sent a “late night survival kit” which included an assortment of power snacks and energy drinks. Not only was it a wonderful surprise and delight moment for the client, they then launched their program within the week! Here’s an example of an employer creating a Moment That Matters for employees. While in Toronto for a company-wide Town Hall last month, a member of our loans and finance team was recognized for catching a tax reduction and saving the company a substantial sum of money. Immediately afterwards, a 300-pound block of ice was unveiled and remote team members, myself included, were asked to come up, use real ice picks and hack away at this block of ice. In the block were three sturdy boxes with golden chocolate coins and “Mark Bucks” (named for the picture of our CEO, Mark Organ, found on this exclusive currency). Immediately, our executive team started handing out cards with hand-written, personalized notes from our CEO to each and every one of us, and inside were several crisp $100 bills – the money we saved from our lucky accounting catch. moments-that-matter-personalized-note Our leadership team could easily have handed out gift cards without blocks of ice, hand-written notes and cold hard cash. But instead, they orchestrated an exciting and crazy shared moment for the team that made the delivery just as important as the gift. It was truly a company moment that won’t be forgotten for a long time to come.

How do you create a Moment That Matters?

If we look at the examples above, we see three common attributes that make a powerful Moment That Matters.

1. It’s personal.

Why do people like swag that has their name on it so much more? Because that item is now specifically about them. In the same way, a MTM occurs when that moment is specifically tailored to one individual or a select audience. In my first example, it was tea, not coffee (because again, I hate coffee) and it was exactly the kind of tea I normally purchase. The devil (or in this case, the angel) is in the details. When you are looking to create a meaningful impression, get as personal and specific as you can. That means you have to understand that little things are important and find a systematic way of capturing those seemingly innocuous details. To do this at scale for customers it may mean a spreadsheet, or better yet a platform, that captures the little details that make a person unique and singular rather than just a persona.

2. It’s unexpected.

Of course, not all meaningful impressions are surprises, but I have found that the “surprise” in “surprise and delight” is just as powerful as the “delight.” Unexpected positive interactions are the fodder for those top notch tales that everyone wants to tell. This is where organizations have an advantage in creating Moments That Matter. For the most part, the orchestration of surprising and delighting customers on a personal level is still a random and unexpected act in the business world.

Now is the time to build relationships with clients on a 1-to-1 basis by capitalizing on the unexpected. (Click To Tweet)

3. It costs you.

The cost in dollars of a Moment That Matters is rarely the cost that is the most impactful. The time, effort, creativity or thoughtfulness that goes into architecting an exceptional moment are by far the more impactful investments. Knowing someone has gone out of their way or taken time from their day to think about you on a deeper level can have more impact than you realize. This attribute is actually the entire heart of a Moment That Matters. Because deep down, when you someone makes the investment to create a moment that’s completely about you, it reinforces that you matter. And we all are seeking to be reminded of that. When you become a company, employer or employee that intentionally looks to create Moments That Matter, you give your peers and customers their own story, with them as the main character and you as the backdrop that makes them stand out from the masses. And stories can be an incredible source of advocacy for your company.

Creating a Moment That Matters for your customer or employee is the most authentic marketing pitch you’ll ever give them, and they’ll tell it over and over and over again. (Click to Tweet)

So go forth today, create a Moment That Matters, and don’t underestimate the impact it may have.

Other resources to help you create a memorable customer experience:

This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse.