Peak-End Rule and Customer Experience

Peak-End Rule -StratoServe

Atul Gawande’s great book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End discusses the peak-end rule (Fredrickson and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman) in the context of medicine. The peak-end rule seems to apply rather neatly to customer experience both online and offline. But first about the peak end rule.

According to the peak-end rule customers think back on their experience in terms peaks and ending. Thus, if during a service encounter there is a delightful experience and the service experience ends on a positive note the overall recollection is positive. Such a customer is likely to refer customers, like your business on Facebook. It does not matter if there was a peak negative experience (as illustrated in the graphic) that is lower than the peak positive experience. Hence the idea of “service recovery” which means that if a service provider makes a mistake and immediately rights it, customers tend to forgive easily. The important thing to remember is that the customer should leave happy. Thus, businesses should plan the customer experience so that there are some clear “peak positive” experience opportunities. For example, searching and finding stuff on your website should be “super-easy” and if you are say a tour operator you should have some list of peak positive experiences that you would want your customers to experience. The great news is that just one peak positive experience that exceeds the peak negative experience can do the trick. This provided the customer leaves with a smile and thus overall happy memories. In all of this, customers do not differentiate between times on the experience. If a website or brick store experience is great then the visitor is not too keen to leave.

So what does the peak-end rule mean for giving customers a great experience? Here are some thoughts:

  • Identify some peak positive experiences: You tend to know some particular experiences that customers have appreciated in the past. For example a great restaurant owner we know, himself serves  a complimentary small dessert at the end of a meal. The meal does not seem that expensive !
  • Look out for peak negative experiences: Again experience tells you some frequent customer complaints. Addressing these on priority is a good idea. If you cannot eliminate some known negative experiences systematically, try to right perceived wrongs immediately. This will help with your customer experience.
  • Fond goodbyes and “do visit again” are essential: As the customer leaves the goodbye experience must be great. Most airports do a poor job with this. Departures at airports are generally nice and welcoming while Arrivals tend to be poor experiences overall for the air traveler leaving the airport. Some online store check-out experiences are also poor. Given that this is so important for customer’s  memories, its worth investing in enhancing the check-out experience both online and offline.About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.
    About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.
    About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.