The Peak-End Rule and Customer Experience

October 31, 2016
The Peak-End Rule and Customer Experience | proposal at restaurant

One key to designing great customer experience touch points is to understand the way our minds process and retain information.

Customers do not remember every moment of a customer experience equally. First impressions and primacy effects demonstrate that the beginning of an experience can have outsized importance.

Similarly, the peak-end rule informs us that specific portions of a customer’s experiences are more important than others in determining how the customer remembers the experience.

What is the peak-end rule? The peak-end rule states that we remember an experience by how we felt at its most intense moment and at the end, instead of an average of how we felt throughout.

Look at the picture above; what part of that dinner do you think both people will remember years later?

It is important to remember that the “most intense” moment can be positive or negative. This is one reason why an organization can do almost everything right yet the customer seems to focus on the one thing the organization got wrong.

Creating the Peak in the Peak-End Rule

One of the principles we teach in our customer service training is to analyze the final moments and emotional peak of each touch point.

Usually, identifying the end of an experience is fairly straightforward, but how do you determine the emotional peak when it is completely dependent on the customer’s individualized response to the experience.

One of the best techniques for controlling this part of the journey is to try to manufacture the emotional peak purposefully, to create it by design.

If your organization can create the emotional moment itself, you can exert greater control over the experience your team delivers and leave less of the customer’s response to chance.

Creating emotional moments for customers does not have to be complicated or expensive.

In fact, trying to provide viral-worthy WOW moments is a bad practice and unscalable. Meeting and exceeding expectations consistently is the basis of all great customer service.

Consistent execution that prevents service issues from occurring in the first place is crucial, but once you’re prevented service issues from occurring, how do you create an emotional peak?

You can easily do so with simple actions that create surprise and delight. For example…

Connecting on a Human Level

Of course, emotional peaks do not have to be surprises or gifts, they can simply be a human-to-human connection.

Asking how a customer’s daughter did in the school play. Offering to stay after normal hours for a customer who was late for his appointment. Any personal connection that shows caring and concern will often be the customer’s emotional high point.

As you look at each touch point in your customer’s journey, never forget that you can plan for the moments that will resonate most deeply with your customers.

With a little forethought, you can take each touch point in your customer’s journey and design a brilliant beginning, an effortless ending, and a perfect peak.

And if you can do that, you can rest assured that the customer will remember the experience fondly.

2 thoughts on “The Peak-End Rule and Customer Experience”

  1. Pingback: 205: Colin Shaw, The Intuitive Customer

  2. Pingback: How to Destroy a Customer Relationship in the Final Moments

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