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The New End

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I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Sam Stern, a principal analyst at Forrester Research for my Amazing Business Radio show. One of the ideas we discussed was Daniel Kahneman’s Peak-end rule. The short version of this concept, applied to customer interactions, is that customers judge their experience on how they felt at its peak and at its end.

The topic came up as Sam and I were discussing surveys. Specifically, when surveys are sent and how they could potentially negatively impact the customer experience. Just when the customer thinks the experience is over, it’s not. They receive a survey. That’s the New End.

In a typical transaction with your business, think about the last interaction your customer experiences. This can be any type of business. For example, the restaurant owner may thank the guests as they walk out the door. An automotive repair center may bring the customer’s car to the front of the store for the customer to inspect before they drive away. An online retailer’s customer’s end may be when they open the box with their merchandise. These final moments appear to be the end of the customer’s experience, but sometimes there’s more.

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Sometimes the car dealership will send a survey to the customer. Or, the online retailer asks for a review of the product. Those become the New End to those customer interactions, and sometimes that New End can taint the experience.

I love a certain hotel that I’ve stayed at several times. The hotel is clean, the rooms are nice, the restaurants are great, and the staff is always friendly and helpful. I couldn’t ask for more. Two days after my first stay I received a survey. I was happy to fill it out. What I thought would be a short survey took almost ten minutes. Still, I wanted to give some credit to the staff, so I took the time to complete the survey. After my next visit, I received the same survey. This time, I did not complete it. Nor did I complete it after the third and fourth visit.

The point of that short story is to emphasize that when I walked out of the doors of that hotel, that was not the end. The New End appeared 48 hours later, and it wasn’t a positive end.

What if that survey had been three short questions? How would I have felt about it? Or, with the ability of computers today, why doesn’t their system recognize me as a repeat guest and send me a shorter survey, as in two or three questions, to ensure I felt the same way as the first visit?

Think about what the last thing your customer experiences in a typical interaction with you and your organization. Is it a long, multi-page survey that causes survey fatigue and anxiety? Or, is it a thank you note expressing appreciation that will remind your customer about their positive experience with you? Whatever it is, that New End becomes what I refer to as the True End. It’s your customer’s final experience of that interaction that also sets the tone for future business.

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