Minneapolis, March 24, 2017

The Peak End Rule

Customer service is so 20th century. The new standard is “customer experience.” According to Jake Sorofman, a marketing expert at Gartner, the customer experience is “fast becoming the top imperative of modern business…and the new competitive battleground of business.”


Brian Solis, author of What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, told Paige O’Neill of InsideCXM that, in many respects, customer experience is more important than product, and that customer experience is different from customer satisfaction.


“It’s one of those things that easy to say and hard to do,” Sorofman said in his recent Gartner post. “The companies that get it right exhibit certain behaviors—behaviors that don’t happen by accident.” 


What’s the difference between customer experience and customer satisfaction? It seems I’m not the only one who’s asked. Here are some answers I came across.


What separates customer satisfaction from customer experience is based on a theory called the “peak-end rule,” developed by Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. The idea is that customers evaluate a transaction based on memories of key moments in the interaction and—this is critical—what happens at the end. First impressions are important, but the rule suggests that last impressions are just as important. If the shopping experience is favorable but the customer has to stand in line at the checkout or there’s a mistake in their receipt, the negative they’ve experienced at the end of the transaction will trump whatever positive they experienced earlier. 


Another writer said customer experience is a combination of a customer’s emotional and rational responses to an interaction, along with an evaluation of whether the result was worth the effort and cost involved. In most cases, the emotional response counts more than rational evaluation.


That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the peak emotional touch points that influence customer satisfaction. A warm interaction with a salesperson goes a long way toward erasing impatience or irritation that might occur during a transaction. Unfortunately, too many business leaders don’t come to that realization until they’ve suffered the losses caused by cutting service or the quality of service to the minimum.


At Great Clips, we’re completely on board with the notion that customers should have the best experience possible, from the moment they walk into the door until they leave. In fact, our Online Check-In is meant to start the great experience before the client walks into the salon. 


Sorofman says there are three corporate characteristics that, taken together, indicate a commitment to great experiences for customers. 


• Customer experience should be a number one priority for top executives. 

• Employee incentive programs should be designed to encourage great customer service. 

• Exceptional efforts by employees deserve recognition. Keeping the focus on both customer experience and employee effort makes it more likely employees will buy into the program. The best organizations, says Sorofman, empower their employees to go the extra mile to provide a positive experience.


Great Clips aims to hit all three of those marks, and to provide the tools for franchisees to hit them, too. Our philosophy is that everything we do ripples out to the customer.


Another reason Great Clips is successful at creating a great customer experience is that we’ve defined the experience. You can’t give the customers what they need unless you know what they want—and what they’re willing to pay. Without that information, a company can’t focus on the most economical, efficient and emotionally satisfying way to fulfill those needs.


We know our customers want a great haircut at a great price, delivered by people dedicated to being personable, friendly and responsive. What could be more satisfying?


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