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We all want our customers to be raving fans, to refer us to their friends and loved ones and be advocates for what we do.

It is commonly thought that the key to generating raving fans is to give them an amazing customer experience.

There are two challenges here:

1. What constitutes a great customer experience; and

2. How do we give our staff some clear guidelines to follow rather than the vague message of “be nice to them”

Lucky this challenge has been made much easier by some research that uncovers how people judge an experience. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman is the founder of Peak End Theory. This theory proves that when people reflect on an experience they remember the peak moments (either good or bad) and how it ended.

What they do not do is look at the experience as a whole and average it out. We don’t measure pleasure or pain by how long it lasts, rather by the most intense feeling experienced and the impression left by the final moments. Your decision to go through an experience again or buy a product associated with it is controlled by whether there were any peak moments and how it ended.

This theory has been applied to all types of experiences. Sitting through a lecture, being sold to, watching a movie, and even going through a medical procedure. What we are looking for is peak moments of pleasure or pain and how the experience ended.

University lecturers got a far higher rating if they inserted one or two fun interactive moments for their students over the semester. Whether someone agreed to return for an uncomfortable medical procedure was also controlled by this theory.

The duration of the procedure did not feature in their decision. People who had a long drawn out procedure were more willing to return than people who had a short procedure peppered by painful moments and an uncomfortable end.

In business we often get this wrong. Our primary focus is on the first impression, how they are greeted. In contrast we need to focus on giving people a couple of wow moments and a knock out ending.

Hotels only focus on the first impression. Your bags magically appear in your room, the TV has your name on it and chocolates are waiting for you to devour them. But on check out you have to schlepp your own bags, line up with the hordes of other people, correct the bill and find your own taxi. Imagine if they made the exit as amazing as the entry.

I recently bought a car and when I picked it up I was told the car was being “detailed”. Three hours later the car turned up. The guy got out left it running and said, “Here you go.” They were much nicer to me before I signed the dotted line.

What that car yard failed to realise was that the peak moment for me was the pick up. In contrast their peak moment is when they get my money. But for me that sucks. They don’t care about the delivery of the car, but I do. If they want to create a raving fan they need to make the delivery process exceptional.

BMW have this nailed when you take delivery of a car from them, they take you into a beautiful room and unveil the car for you. To top it off they call you a week later to see how it is going.

How to use it to have more satisfied employees

It works with our employees too.

The University of Brunel showed that employees judge how satisfied they are at work by peak moments, good and bad and the most recent interaction. They do not average out the good or bad experiences over the entire time of employment. The study showed that peak moments of satisfaction were twice as powerful as any other variable in the persons decision to stay at their job.

In every interaction you have start to explore how Peak End Theory can get you a better outcome.

Ensure that you peak well and end well.

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Dr Adam Fraser

Dr Adam Fraser

Dr Adam Fraser is one of Australia’s leading educators, researchers and thought leaders in the area of human performance! In this time he has worked with elite level athletes, the armed forces and business professionals of all levels. For the past 10 years Adam has been working exclusively in the corporate and business world to elevate and sustain the performance of the employees of the companies that hire him.

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