In a world of identical competitors, true differentiation and competitive advantage lies in staging memorable customer experiences. Satisfaction is no longer enough. Satisfied customers are not loyal customers. They shop around – they may like you, but not enough to resist the temptations of your competitors. What you need is truly loyal customers – people who can’t imagine doing business with anyone else. Gone are the days of buying loyalty with rewards and gimmicks - customer loyalty is the result of consistently making people feel something special, something different. This is where Peak-End Theory comes in.

Peak-End Theory is the result of research by psychologists Barbara Fredrickson andDaniel Kahneman who set out to understand how humans judge and remember experiences. The research found that people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (its most intense point - either positive or negative) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. 

Check-out this video from the amazing Dr Adam Fraser to learn more about Peak-End Theory. 

Here are 5 ways you can wow your customers using Peak-End Theory:

1. Look at your business through your customer's eyes.

Map your customers' journey and identify their peek moments of both pleasure and pain - what are the moments they love and what are the pain points, or moments they hate. Quite often, you will find a customer's peak moment is a negative peak for your team. Consider the experience of buying a car. The best part of the experience is driving away in your brand new car, the worst part is parting with your money. For the sales people though, their peak moment is receiving the money and getting the commission, the part they hate is delivery, they see this as an inconvenience and a pain.  If your team doesn't understand the experience from the customer's perspective, they miss an opportunity to turn those negative peaks into positive ones and accentuate those positive peaks - that's what people remember.

2. Create emotional moments.

The more intense an experience is, the more likely a customer will remember it. People won't always remember what you do or say, but they will always remember how you made them feel. When you can connect with your customers on an emotional level, this creates a positive peak that is hard to forget - and that people will talk about. Below is an example from Travelodge Docklands, where the team connected emotionally with a family travelling with an ill baby

3. Surprise & delight with the little things

Memorable moments are almost always created at the fringes, where people step outside the norm and do something different that a customer doesn't expect. It is often the little things that people remember. Think of them as simple ideas that put deposits in your customer’s emotional bank account. Another simple example from Travelodge Docklands below: 

4. Focus on the ending

The genesis of Peak-End Theory was an academic paper entitled "When More Pain Is Preferred to Less: Adding a Better End" - The researchers studied patients experiencing painful medical procedures and found that even if the overall experience was very painful, if the ending was positive (or less painful), this is what people remembered. This is equally true in the context of customer experience. A team member who ensure the ending is positive can erase negative experiences along the way. The long wait in line or the bad music in the changing room are forgotten if the customer's last experience is a positive peak.  The end of your customer's experience is what will be remembered the most so consider how you can nail your customer endings every time. 

5. Create Peak Moments out of Peak Moments

The greatest customer experience organisations recognise the link between the customer experience and the employee experience. The more Peak moments you can create for your people, the more likely they are to create peak moments for your customers. Rewarding and recognising your Team Members who create peak moments, in turn creates a peak moment for the Team Member that they will remember and talk about. Consider how you can surprise & delight your team members and send positive aftershocks throughout your team. Here is a great example from Travelodge Wellington: