In his terrific book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis argues persuasively for ending your customer’s journey on a high note. Excellent advice, but not often followed. The importance of starting strong is well-known—websites begin with a striking visual, stores focus on greeting customers as they come in. But what about the ending?
Daniel Kahneman’s work (published in Thinking, Fast and Slow) reinforces the importance of ending on a high note. He explains that the experiencing mind is different from the remembering mind. Two parts of an experience have a disproportionate impact on how we remember it. First, the peak high (or low!) is remembered clearly. But second, the way the experience ends sticks with us with the same clarity. Both the high and ending points of the experience have a disproportionate impact on our memory – and thus, our loyalty.
Unfortunately, we’re often so focused on managing the beginning (which does matter) and peak high, that we tend to sacrifice the power of our ending. Think of your most recent purchase – did you get something personal to lead to the anticipation of using the product? Or did your experience end with yet another survey asking whether you would recommend the brand to your friends? By forgetting to optimize the ending of your journey, you miss your greatest opportunity to improve your CX. You need to focus on ending in the strongest way possible.
Publix is rated the #1 customer experience by the Temkin Group, and one significant reason for this is how they end their customers’ journeys. Many supermarkets offer to take customers’ groceries to their car, but what’s different about Publix is that they don’t ask—they just assume that customers want their groceries carried out for them. Personal service is the default—and even if the customer doesn’t want their groceries carried for them, it insures that every customer walks out the door with a friendly goodbye.
In a very different example, HEX’s website also ensures that every experience ends on a high note. After your order, team members frequently write you a personal thank-you note—not something canned or written in corporate-speak, but a note that’s clearly written to you by a real person.
These are just two examples, but the lesson is clear: ending on a high note is crucial to ensure your customers remember their experience with you positively. Starting off on the right foot is important in any customer interaction, but make sure you sustain that focus on making a good impression throughout the experience, and ensure your customers are walking out the door with a great last impression.