Posts Tagged ‘effortless service’

The Peak End Rule – how do you leave your customers on a high?

June 25, 2014

Neil ShackletonHave you ever watched a film and as it plays find yourself thinking, “wow, what an amazing special effect, I wonder how they did that” or “NO, don’t go in the house, he’s in there with a knife!” Did you know that Hollywood craft every single moment of their movies to an exact formula, that every incident, special effect, twist in the tale is laid out to the exact same page number, every time? Check out

Those that are genius at it like Steven Spielberg are able to craft an amazing movie experience with a great ending to leave us exiting the movie theatre on a high. But think about those movies you saw that didn’t have a great ending. What did you say about them when asked…. “it was ok but the ending was rubbish, so don’t bother seeing it!”? Probably 95% was great but that last 5% wasn’t good enough to really win you over, and promote the movie to a friend. Relate that to the customer experience you deliver in your business. Are you carefully crafting that journey for them, ready to send them out on a high, so they promote your business to a friend?

To help you, you need to understand The Peak End Rule and the different ways in which it works. In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman says that we judge any experience we have in life by two things – how they were at the peak or peaks of the experience and whether it got better or worse at the end. He calls this The Peak End Rule. If a movie has great special effects or an amazing fight scene but the ending just wasn’t strong enough to leave you on a high, you probably won’t tell your friends to go see it. Relate that to the customer experiences you are creating. You may have a great welcome, ask great questions or offer amazing solutions, but how much thought did you give to how you closed the transaction or in fact, where the customer is on their whole journey with you? Sometimes, by that point we are just happy that we gave the customer what they wanted as we limp out with a “bye, thanks for using us!” but if Spielberg did that, you know what you would say about his movie.

But there’s more. Understanding the journey the person has come on is also important. Daniel also states that if the ending is strong enough, it has the power to wash away any pain the customer may have felt along that journey. “WHAT!” I hear you say. YES. Let me explain…

The Peak End Rule in action

So, a friend of mine went to get a tattoo, his first and rather than choosing something simple as a first, oh no, he had to go big. He chose to have a huge tattoo over his left side. Now they say tattooing over your rib cage is possibly the most painful experience you could ever have whilst getting a tattoo, but that is where he wanted it.

Here is the journey. So the first peak is deciding he is actually going to do it, he is euphoric about it. The second peak is deciding the design he is going to have. It includes an intricate Celtic Knot design, interwoven with pictures of his children. There is a bit of a low when he finds out how much it is going to cost but he hits a peak when he actually raises the money to have it done. So far, three peaks, right?

He is 15 mins into having the tattoo done when he has to ask the artist to stop. He is in so much pain and it is about to continue for the next four and a half hours! During this time he is in agony, he is crying, I think he even called for his mother at one point (which we still tease him about), but here is the surprising twist. The minute it is finished you would think that he would say “never again”, but no. He stands looking at it in the mirror in total awe, turns his body to show the now untouched side and says, “think I will get this side done as well!”. “WHAT!” I hear you shout, “is he insane?” but actually, he just got hit by The Peak End Rule.

Remember, when the ending is strong enough, it does have the power to wash away the pain, which in this case, he had only just experienced. A bit like a mother holding her newly born baby – the pain was worth it. The minute he saw how fabulous the tattoo looked, he was ready for another one.

Let’s put all of this in the context of your customer. Firstly, you have a product you sell, let’s say it’s broadband as that probably resonates with most of us and let’s put it in some simplistic terms to scope the journey.

You just bought a new house – peak
You choose the Broadband provider and you are really happy with the deal and speed you are going to get – peak
The router arrives when it should and service goes live without a hitch – peak
Then one day, the Broadband just won’t work and you can’t figure out why – low

What happens next is often the key deciding factor on how the customer feels about the provider they chose. If the customer calls up and the company is really easy to do business with, then it is a peak for the customer and they are happy to continue. They may even promote your business because they get that it will go wrong sometimes, but you were so great in fixing it and made it so effortless for them, they are happy to stay. Peak

BUT, if you create a difficult experience for them at this point, full of hurdles and broken promises to call back and a total lack of acknowledgement of the pain they are going through, then this is when they want to leave you. You created a poor ending. Get it?

Creating a Peak Ending

You can take The Peak End Rule into any customer interaction you have by ensuring that you leave the customer on a high. It is the way you leave them that will have the lasting effect and to illustrate it, I am going to leave you with a short story I stole from a colleague of mine.

So my colleague orders his groceries online regularly and as usual, a guy brings them to the door and leaves. No big deal, that is what we expect, but one day a different guy turns up. This guy offers to carry the groceries through to the kitchen, passing the young daughter who is trying to learn guitar. On the way out, the delivery guy stops and shows the daughter two great little guitar chords and on the back of a receipt he has in his pocket, writes a visual depiction of the chords so she won’t forget them. WOW, what a way to leave. The daughter is delighted she learned two new chords and my colleague is stunned to say the least. TA DA! The Peak End Rule. Guess what, he tells EVERYONE to get their groceries from that store.

So are you ready for your high after RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK or are you churning out SCREAM 58?

Written by Neil Shackleton, Associate Consultant at Blue Sky


What does it take to give that ‘Extra’ bit of effort?

February 10, 2012

There’s a great deal of noise in customer experience cyber space about customer effort at the moment – whether the science and research (Harvard Business Review 2010 ‘Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers’) is sufficiently compelling to inform organisational customer experience strategy or whether it is in fact worth paying any attention to.

Often the best way to test a new bit of thinking is to apply it to reality.  So here’s my Christmas (better late than never) customer experience story.

My daughter was desperate for a Barbie Typewriter this year, so off I went to Toys ‘r’ Us to get her one, throwing in a few other items for the boys whilst I was there (including a £10 drum for the 1 year old, despite an agreement with my better half to not buy him anything as Christmas is somewhat wasted on the under 2’s).

Christmas day arrived and Gracie was delighted to get the typewriter.  Not so delighted, however, when it didn’t work.  On closer inspection I noticed it had been used (rather a lot).  The stickers were worn off and there were parts missing.  I distracted Gracie with the rest of the presents and told her we’d take it back to the shop when it opened – to which she replied, ‘how do you know where Santa got it from?’ (Ahem)

The 1 year old opened the drum, took one swipe with the drum stick and managed to push the stick right through the surface. Another one to take back.

So on Boxing Day, I pootled in to Toys ‘r’ Us with both toys and laid out my experience with the toys. The shop assistant tried to look shocked, but was very quick to say I could have both items replaced.  No apology though.  Effortless service? Well, so far 8/10.

I demanded an explanation as to how a used toy could have ended up back on the shelf to be bought by an unsuspecting customer, but was offered no reasonable explanation, just an assurance that this must be a one off.

Gracie was delighted with the exchange, however, we opened the ‘new’ drum, only to find that this one ALREADY had the drum surface broken through!  A SECOND example of a used toy ending up back on the shelf.

I marched back to Toys ‘r’ Us.  Same girl behind the counter.  Placing the Drum on the counter I said, ‘you’re not going to believe this’ and showed her the drum.  She went very red, apologised (somewhat unconvincingly) and said she would get another.

Again, I demanded to know how broken toys end up back on the shelves for customers to buy, but was informed it was just a massive coincidence that this happened to me twice.  Forgive me for my cynicism here, but really?  A massive coincidence?  Effortless service?  Now down to 4/10 – I had to return to the shop twice.

Effortless - Childs Toy Robot - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

I get home to find my sons new gun (from Toys ‘r’ Us) isn’t working with the batteries bought from Toy ‘r’ Us.

I stampede back up to the shop, (same girl behind the counter looking as if she was going to run).  I show her the toy and explain the situation.  She takes the batteries out and puts in new ones and the toy works. I tell her the batteries were bought from Toys ‘r’ Us and can I have a new set (of 16, which is what I bought) as the ones I bought are clearly dead. Except I haven’t brought the whole lot back, just the four that are in the toy.

Now here’s the thing – given the situation, what would any reasonable empowered customer focused shop assistant do?  What would you do? Here’s what happened.

Shop assistant: ‘I’m sorry, you’ll have to bring all 16 batteries back for me to change them’.

Me: You’re kidding me, right?

Shop Assistant: ‘No.  I can’t (won’t) change them without you returning them.’

Me: So this is my THIRD visit today returning toys that had been bought already broken/not working from your shelves and you are now asking me to go home again to get the batteries (worth £8.99) to prove they are all dead (even though you have four in your possession that clearly are)?’

Shop Assistant: ‘Yes.’

I don’t ask for much and I wasn’t even expecting anything more than an exchange of toys in my previous two visits despite Toys ‘r’ Us clearly being at fault, but I would have thought that given all of that, my custom might just have been worth more than or as much as £8.99 for a new set of batteries. Clearly Not.

For 3 visits, no apology and the cost of a set of dead batteries (£8.99) that would mean me making a FOURTH trip to Toys r Us in ONE DAY…effortless service – 0/10.

So whilst the debate about customer effort rages on, I really hope that companies start to focus their teams on just doing whatever makes it easier for the customer, because this is really what it’s about.


Sally Earnshaw - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Blue Sky Performance Improvement