This week Brendan and Tom discuss the book - the Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath and explore how creating moments can elevate eLearning.
#27 The Power of Moments in eLearning
Brendan Cox, Tom Payani
Brendan Cox 00:07
Welcome to the Blend podcast with your hosts Tom Payani and Brendan Cox who take a closer look at the fascinating world of eLearning through the lens of education and design. The podcast is brought to you by Blend Interactive Content. You can find us on LinkedIn or blend.training.
Brendan Cox 00:28
Tom Payani 00:29
Very good. Thank you. We're gonna talk about one of your favourite books today, aren't we? The power of moments by Chip and Dan Heath?
Brendan Cox 00:39
Yeah, it's a great book about capturing moments and creating connections with people. We just thought this actually applies to eLearning among other things as well. So, it'd be cool to kind of chat about that.
Tom Payani 00:51
Excellent. So before we start, for people who haven't read it, or don't know anything about it, could you give a sort of brief summary in general of what the book is about or what it's trying to achieve?
Brendan Cox 01:05
The book really dives into the idea that, as humans, we tend to remember things by moments rather than the whole journey from start to finish the things. Say, for example, you remember the peaks or the troughs of an experience. You also remember the end of experiences.
In the same way, just sitting on a small scale, think of it as a film. You remember the real highs of a film, and then you remember whether or not the ending was good. It's that kind of principle that actually applies to everything.
From your best night out at university through to when you graduated. You remember graduation, you remember the highs and you'll also remember experiences if it was a significant trough as well.
The idea is that by viewing experiences, and designing and planning experiences with that in mind, being aware of that you can actually enhance the experience for other people. The good thing is that means you can enhance the experience for the audience. You could also enhance it for a customer or for your friends and family.
Tom Payani 02:21
In the book they give a specific example about Disney, don’t they?
Brendan Cox 02:27
Yeah, so that idea of when you go to Disneyland is that there are a lot of things involved. It can be a bit of a slog, especially if you're going there with a load of kids. You've got to deal with all of that. But actually, once you're on the ride, and you're going around on the roller coaster, it's amazing.
At the end of the day, you've got everyone's super satisfied and everyone's got smile on their face and had a great time. That's what you take away from it – the peak moments. You don't remember the queuing, you don't remember the complaining because the kids wanted seven ice cream or anything like that.
The key is to build those highs in the same way that something like Disney does. American theme parks are especially good at this, because they look for opportunities to raise the enjoyment factor even on the things where you wouldn't normally get it.
For example, queuing. It's always the worst part of a theme park. But in Disney, they create moments, even during the queuing. They would have actors doing things and they have their kind of experiences going on, they have nuggets of things, especially with stuff like Disney and the Marvel characters etc.
They'll have scene-setting, and they'll establish the story even while you're queueing. That really elevates it. I think that's something that you can definitely take away from it. You can actually create small versions of this throughout everything you do.
Tom Payani 04:03
This sort of concept reminds me of another example that they use in the book about the Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles. This hotel is ranked number two on TripAdvisor but when you look at pictures of it, it's a very generic-looking standard hotel that doesn't look like anything out of the ordinary. It looks quite dull and boring, to be honest with you.
However, when they start explaining why it's number two on TripAdvisor in LA, it's because they have things in the hotel such as a popsicle helpline. You ring this phone by the swimming pool and some English Butler-looking guy comes out and gives you a popsicle. They have a snack menu for free with crisps such as Cheetos and things like that.
Obviously, they're using this idea of, ‘if we raise the peaks in an activity or in a service, that is gonna do more for people's satisfaction than just being solid or just making sure there are no complaints.
Brendan Cox 05:12
Raise the peaks and focus on elevating them, rather than just filling in the potholes. If anyone's ever been to Secret Cinema, it's similar. That idea that even in the run-up to the experience, the queue has interactive elements in it, every single person that you come into contact with - the person that stamps your ticket, anyone that you speak to on the way the people that greet you at the train station to walk you to secret cinema - is in character.
You're given a character sheet before you even turn up, and guidance on your costume etc. From the moment you decide you're doing it, all the way through to the actual experience of sitting through a couple of hours of interactive experiences of walking around a venue fully decorated with actors, and activities going on. Then through to actually watching the film.
In the end, everything is elevated. They're looking for all of those moments where you can surprise someone and break the script because something that they talk about in the book is that idea of when you're queueing to an event, you're expecting the event to start once you get in, but by surprising you, they are elevating the actual the generic queueing experience.
You can actually surprise people, and the people we're talking about will say, ‘Did you see what happened in the queue? Or did you see what that guy was doing while we were waiting?’ It's stuff like that, that really creates memorable moments.
Tom Payani 06:43
Another example of breaking the script that came to my head was a restaurant, a pretty standard restaurant. It was doing okay but the owners decided to mix things up a bit. They said to each member of staff, ‘you're allowed to give away X amount of food and drink randomly to various guests over the next month’.
That was a way to build peaks. If you're going into this restaurant, and you get offered a free drink for no reason, and it's completely random, you're going to remember that as part of the experience. In one way they're just trying to differentiate themselves but there's some thought behind this isn't there? It's prioritising creating peaks rather than prioritising fixing potholes.
Brendan Cox 07:31
There is a really good example in terms of customer service. There's a company in the UK called Timpson's that mend shoes and things, spread out all across the UK. They've got amazing customer service. If you walk in there, and you say, ‘Oh, can you could you shine my shoes, because my shoes are scuffed up?’ Or ‘Can I buy a set of laces?’ they will often just give you the laces, or they will polish your shoes and just hand them back to you.
Without making you feel like you've got a freebie and you feel obligated to do something. Every time I go back to the UK and I have any shoes that need fixing, I take them to Timpson's. I literally go to another country and comfortably bring another bag with me to get fixed whatever needs to be fixed.
By creating those moments, you create a customer that champions your business. I value that level of service. I value that empathy for the client. Those tiny little moments just being given a free set of laces or polish.
Tom Payani 08:45
Okay, so let's look at that ‘break the script’ then. How do you think that can be used in eLearning?
Brendan Cox 08:52
I think that there's a big focus on jumping into what are the things we need to tell a learner. There's almost an expectation that at the end of this piece of eLearning, it just sort of fizzles out. ‘We've done the work, we put in all the content, that's the end of it, they'll just be glad it's over.’
The expectation is that it is just another bit of eLearning. You can play on that. You can actually mix it up. If you provide more feedback and you make it personalised, you let the person explore it, and actually discover things that they wouldn't think would there, for example, you want to use a scenario where they have to work out how to do something.
If you put little moments that they wouldn't expect to be there like ‘Easter eggs’, a little bit of humour, it instantly elevates that moment. The good thing is that you don't have to go completely off-script. You don't have to be silly, but little elements of humanity and personalization. They elevate those moments and make that overall eLearning more interactive and memorable.
Tom Payani 10:05
Yeah, the personalization aspect is key because the majority of eLearning out there doesn't do that at all. We've noticed a big difference in how much people react to that and how engaged people get when they feel the character or the narrator, or whatever part of the learning is speaking to them directly.
Another thing to add on to that is when the learner can choose their own learner journey, their own map of how they get from A to B, is a good example of how you ‘break the script’ in eLearning to make create moments and create interactive eLearning. Immersive eLearning.
Brendan Cox 10:41
The point of The Power of Moments is, what is the point of creating moments? It's to make it memorable. At the end of the day, that's the goal of eLearning as well. It is is to help someone remember something that they need to be able to do.
There's that aspect of when you ‘break the script’, you create moments, but you can also lead people down a path where rather than just saying, ‘this is what you're doing, this is what how you do it, get on with it’, you can actually lead people to connect the dots themselves over time.
They kind of trip over the truth. That's one of the parts in the book, the idea of personal insight, that you only get through guiding someone to that realisation, not by hammering the point home and just signposting it the whole way. Then it becomes a much more impactful moment when they realise something in the light. It's literally a cliched lightbulb moment where it sort of turns on and they realise it for themselves, it makes it a lot more powerful.
It's the same process that therapists use, they don't just tell you what to do, they ask you questions, they guide you in a direction, and you come to your own conclusion that makes it a lot stronger. And I think that works with eLearning as well.
Tom Payani 11:55
Coming back to this idea of remembering the best and worst moments and the ending - this end rule, like we were talking about Disney earlier; do you think that's applicable in eLearning as well?
Brendan Cox 12:09
100%. I mean, people have invested their time in a piece of eLearning and one of the things that eLearning lacks over face to face is that obviously you lose that element of human contact. That aspect of social reward has to be developed and put back into it.
If you can create moments throughout it, where they feel like they genuinely are proud of themselves, and the interaction has that personal touch then at the end, they'll come away feeling really proud of themselves.
They will remember that moment, and not just that, remember that content better. So, I think something that's very important for interactive eLearning is to not let it just fizzle out. A lot of eLearning just ticks the boxes. That's it, there's no conclusion or a summary. That's about as good as it gets.
Normally, there's no sort of closing chapter that talks about what you've achieved and discussed how well you've done, and things like gamification can add in that element of seeing how well you've done it. Also social proof. Sharing it with other people as well. It elevates the ending. That is way more memorable.
Tom Payani 13:25
One thing that I found very interesting was that it's all well and good talking about peaks, gamification, personalization, how'd you break the script etc. but I think for a lot of listeners, they might be asking, ‘in whatever industry I'm in, or in whatever context is relevant to me, how do I build those peaks? How do I make these peaks out of nothing?’
One bit of advice in the book that I thought was really useful as a starting point was when they use the example of customer service feedback
If every user gives a rating of one to seven, let's say, a lot of businesses will focus on the users who gave the rating of one and focus on how do we move that one up the scale to a three or a four or whatever.
Whereas in the book, they were saying this is the wrong way to look at it, it makes much more sense to move a four to a seven, for example, because firstly, the sevens are the people who tend to spend more money in the business. And this comes back to the 80/20 principle.
There's going to be more people in the middle who you can move up the scale rather than the people who are at one. I thought that was just a very interesting way to frame it and to think about how to build peaks.
Brendan Cox 14:43
Yeah, I think that's true. If you're trying to convince someone who hates what they're doing, it's super hard. Whereas if you've got someone that's a bit indifferent, those the people that you can start to elevate because there's less resistance, they're neutral.
The key thing is here is often when people look for feedback, they'll ask them what they liked, and they'll ask them what they didn't like. Then they hyper-focus on what they didn't like and try and fix that. When you're getting feedback look for the things that people like and turn them into things that people love.
For example, in a piece of eLearning, they really liked the user guide, because it was actually a voiceover of a person. They felt like someone was actually there helping them. Well, push that and see how far you can develop the user guide.
So, there's a video of that person, or that person responds, using the personalization of that person's name, that person is in the cutscenes, that rewards them at the points of which they've achieved something at the checkpoints.
You can get a lot more bang for your buck if you actually focus on trying to move someone who's neutral and is not resisting to an elevated level. of I really like this. You elevate those peaks of that person's experience, rather than trying to basically drag a donkey that stuck his heels in, and he's never going to go much further anyway.
I think that's key. You can actually get a lot further by putting your resources into lifting people's favourite moments of something and pushing them even higher.
Tom Payani 16:34
I would maybe say lifting people's mediocre moments higher to make them great. I think user guides are a great example of that because this is often a thing that's just a sort of obligatory add-on to the past to be included.
It's a box-ticking exercise that normally pages and pages of instruction, because it needs to be there because the user has to have that part of the package. Turning something that is pretty vanilla, (like a user guide) into something super interactive is what we try and do it a Blend.
We're trying to use augmented reality to make it as immersive, engaging and interactive, as possible within the eLearning. They're the things that we know are going to set us apart. Rather than fixing pothole after pothole, we need to be doing that automatically, because we have our own minimum standards, we think, ‘how we can make ourselves different is by taking these things that are just always created as a given?’ The average things that people don't feel emotionally or too strongly about one way or the other about.
So, then all of a sudden, you've got a user guide that is personalised to you and is open-ended. A user guide that doesn't go from point A to point B, it depends on what you ask it and it comes back with a certain answer.
You can use augmented reality where you have to physically build the structure. For example, if it's IKEA, or something like that, you can do it in an augmented environment before you do it in real life. These are the sorts of things that I think pique the interest and create memorable moments for your clients, customers, users, whoever they are.
Brendan Cox 18:19
Yeah, definitely. In one of our other episodes, we talked about onboarding. That's a major place where it's mediocre. If you think of from an emotional perspective, there's nothing higher than suddenly getting a new job. It is a massive moment in someone's life. Then the first thing that happens is that they turn up on the day, or they get sent their email, it says, ‘congrats, you've got the job’. This is when you're meeting us, and it's such a flat moment.
Then when they arrive, they are stood in reception, there's no sense of welcome to it. The peak of getting the job suddenly goes very mediocre, not saying it goes bad but it's like going on a first date, the first time you turn up at a company after you've got the job.
There's a perfect opportunity to really make someone’s onboarding to the job community a special moment and not just look at it from the side of now they just turn up and we'll tell them what to do. Think of it as creating the culture of integrating them into the culture of the company.
You could quite easily make a piece of eLearning where someone is introduced to the office space, you can look around the office, it tells you where everything is. It introduces some of the people that work there. It does it in a kind of friendly, informal manner that makes you feel like you already know them a little bit. So those first day nerves when you turn up - you don't have them. You're already ready to go. You're excited to meet these people. You know where everything is, it's not a sort of ‘work it out when you get there’, you actually feel welcomed.
I think onboarding is also another area where just putting a little bit of thought into elevating those mediocre moments can really make a big difference and get that person excited about working for them.
Tom Payani 20:19
I totally agree. Are there any last thoughts you have on the book before we call it a day?
Brendan Cox 20:25
I would say that one of the key things is that it's not just applicable to business or eLearning. You can use it in your everyday life. When someone makes a suggestion or has an idea, and you don't empathise with that person straight away, you picture yourself doing what they are doing.
Take a breath, take a moment, and actually think about how excited that person is about that thing, whether it's an outfit, whether it's what they're going to cook for dinner, whether it is the holiday they're going on.
Give yourself a moment to get excited about it for them. Then talk about it in a way that elevates that moment for them, getting more excited, talk about the cool things they could be doing. Talk about how awesome this meal is going to be. Talk about how cool the outfit is.
If you can create a habit where you help other people around you (and also yourself) elevate those moments every day and find little moments within the day, looking for an opportunity to elevate it for someone else, it's a good way of making things more memorable and creating connections with people.
Tom Payani 21:41
I can attest to that because you are sickeningly positive every day. Thanks mate. Pleasure speaking to you. See you next time.
Brendan Cox 21:53
Thanks for listening to the Blend podcast. Episodes are available via Google, Apple and Spotify. You can find Blend Interactive Content on LinkedIn or blend.training. Don't forget to like and subscribe. See you next time.