The following blog is written by guest blogger Zachary Poll, also featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Daniel Kahneman, renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, recently wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow. Currently, Thinking, Fast and Slow, is the #1 bestseller on Amazon under the section Business Decision Making. The book delivers groundbreaking research on counterintuitive ways humans interact with their environment that is unpredictable. If we apply these concepts into thinking about our customers, we can tap into incredibly valuable opportunities.
One opportunity in particular is easy to implement and can have an enormous effect; this is called the peak-end rule of memory
The peak-end rule describes that a customer remembers an event on almost only two factors: the most intense feeling they had at any point during the event, and the final feeling they had during the event. If we describe someone’s emotions on a 1-10 scale (1 being awful and intense, 5 being decent and low intensity, and 10 being wonderful and intense), they add those two feelings together, and divide by two.
Let’s go through a popular scenario with which most of us are familiar with Ordering Coffee at Starbucks:
Katherine walks into Starbucks for her favorite coffee, like she does every morning before work. She gets there, and as always there is a long line. She waits in line for a full 10 minutes just to order her coffee! At any time during this experience, she would rate her emotional level at around a 4 (not happy with a low intensity). Finally she gets up to the cashier; this transaction only lasts 30 seconds. However, the cashier called Katherine by her name! For those 20 seconds, Katherine’s emotional happiness was an 8 (very happy and intense).
Now, Katherine must wait for her coffee. She is bored, knows that she is going to be late to work, and has no one to talk to. Her emotional level is again a 4. For the next 9 minutes! Finally, her name is called, and her coffee is ready. She picks it up, and goes to the exit, excited to finally drink her coffee. During these 30 seconds, her emotional happiness is a 6 (moderately happy). Katherine was at Starbucks for 20 minutes in total.
So, if you asked Katherine how much she enjoyed getting Starbucks this morning, how do you think she would rate it? She spent 20 minutes not happy, and only 1 minute enjoying herself. She responds: “I had a great time, I would rate it a 7.5!” WHAT?!? WHY!?!
It is because, like most other humans, Katherine remembered her most intense feeling, which was an 8, when her name was remembered, and her last feeling (excited to drink her coffee, a 7). No wonder Starbucks puts such an emphasis on customer service and premium coffee with exciting names!
Starbucks has been profiting from this since its inception, and it is time your company can as well. Here are some of the most important questions you should ask about your customer’s experiences with your company:
- What is the most extreme feeling my customers are having during their experience with my company? Are we ruining their perception of us by one fast moment that is extremely painful?
- What is their emotional feeling at the last moment of an experience with our company? Are we skipping a friendly gesture that could dramatically increase this number?
Your company might be losing all of the hard work it has put into customer experience if it does poorly in these two tests. When we think about how much we like something, we think about intensity, not longevity. So an hour of above average service will become dramatically reduced in importance if we give a poor 30-second ending to the experience.
People choose when deciding if to repeat an experience by memory. So make sure your company always provides the following:
- An incredibly positive emotional feeling, if only for a short duration, sometime during the course of the interaction.
- The best positive emotional feeling possible when the interaction is ending.
If your company does these two things, your customers impression of your company will dramatically improve, and they will be much more likely to be repeat customers.
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photo credit: www.flickr.com Julie Gibson