How to Crush Signature Moments – The Art of Subtly Delighting Customers


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Can you keep a secret? Ok, here goes.

Not all moments in a customer journey are created equal.

All right, maybe that’s not a secret, but many business leaders haven’t thought about the moments that matter most to their customers. Worse yet, they haven’t tried to create a “moment” that differentiates their brand from their competitors. These differentiating moments in Customer Experience (CX) design are called “signature moments.”

The research consulting group Customer Faithful describes signature moments as “particular features that are built to typify a brand – to shine out as something distinctive, memorable, iconic… An often-quoted example of a ‘signature moment’ is from the Westin Hotel chain, notably their Heavenly Bed, built to be so comfortable, it exemplifies the brand goal of an experience that leaves guests feeling better than when they arrived.”

While some CX designers equate “signature moments” with “wow moments,” I view them as substantially different. For me, “wow moments” are designed to “surprise and delight” customers, and “signature moments” are designed to provide a unique moment that captures the brand’s essence. A “wow moment” often loses its novelty over time but a “signature moment” becomes part of a brand’s service tradition.

For example, I worked with a restauranteur who launched a quick-service concept called Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill. The founder positioned his brand to deliver fresh Mediterranean food colorfully and playfully. The brand’s voice is that of a slightly snarky uncle and it is present across the restaurant, including on crewmember’s T-shirts with sayings like, “Baba ganoush, it sounds funny the first hundred times.”

Garbanzo’s founder sought to create a unique arrival experience that would capture the brand’s spirit and become a “signature moment.” As the brand launched, when you entered Garbanzo, a team member would verbally greet you by saying, “Welcome to Garbanzo. Would you like a complimentary falafel.” From that day forward, Garbanzo owned the “falafel arrival moment,” and any other Mediterranean Grill that dared to try something similar would be viewed as a copycat.

Lest you think all signature moments’ come with added expenses (like doling out free falafels), here’s an example from another company I’ve worked with – International Dairy Queen (IDQ). IDQ’s signature moment is the “blizzard flip,” which involves a Dairy Queen team member turning the company’s thick, milkshake-like Blizzard® treat upside down as they hand it to customers. IDQ owns that handoff moment and has incorporated the blizzard flip into marketing campaigns like “flip it or free,” where customers received a free blizzard if a server failed to flip it over.

Here are a few ideas for creating your “Signature Moment.”

  1. As mentioned in other newsletter posts, start by defining your brand’s “Way We Serve Statement™ (WWSS)” – how you want your customers to feel when interacting with your people, products, technology, and processes.
  2. Brainstorm ideas on how you can bring your WWSS to life at a high-value touchpoint such as arrival, transition, peak, or ending moment.
  3. As part of the brainstorming process, encourage people to think wildly. Generate ideas that are “so your brand” that competitors haven’t tried.
  4. Filter the ideas for impact and feasibility. Test options by observing and listening to customers. Adopt your best idea and “own that moment.”

The Italian poet Cesar Pavese once observed,

We never remember days, only moments.

I say,

Create a signature moment – so your customer will know and remember you!

To learn more about ways to create signature moments, please reach out to me at

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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