What Is the Peak-End Rule and Why Does It Matter for Contact Center CX?

by Mindful
 • October 5, 2020
 • 4 min to read

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In some ways, the peak-end rule is a fascinating, often overlooked customer experience (CX) metric. In our “What’s That Stat?” series, we explore some of the most impactful CX metrics and how to leverage them to improve your customer experience. Learn more about how this customer perception metric can help you improve overall customer service experience for both customers and agents.

What is the peak-end rule?

What do you remember from a previous experience when you were a customer? At a basic level, determining what made an interaction memorable is the goal of measuring the peak-end rule. We’re left with a core impression of virtually every experience we have—good, bad or indifferent.

Calculating this metric requires that we apply a bit of psychological analysis to these experiences. “Peaks” refer to intense positive or negative moments. “Ends” are the final moments of an interaction.

Apart from your experiences as a customer, you’ve no doubt been on the receiving end of a strategically applied peak-end rule approach. When a director makes use of a tantalizing cliffhanger at the end of a TV series season, they’re employing this tactic. You’ll be left waiting in suspense for months wanting to find out what happens next. Likewise, when they fail to end a series well, sometimes the poor ending is all viewers remember about the show.

The peak-end rule as a CX metric

Applied to CX, the peak-end rule focuses on the emotional experience callers go through during an interaction with a contact center agent and how their issue was resolved.

The peak-end effect, like all customer experiences, can be:

  • Positive or Negative
  • Unpleasant or Pleasant
  • Frustrating or Satisfying

Essentially, the peak-end rule says that we tend to remember the lowest or highest points of an experience and how it turned out. For example, a bad breakup can color your impression of the whole relationship, no matter how peaceful the relationship generally was. That’s because we tend to focus on the highly emotional events that occurred during a relationship and how it ended when forming our impressions of it.

The same is true for customer experience interactions. If a customer reaches out several times for service and has satisfying encounters most of those times but a truly terrible experience the last time, they are much more likely to remember the terrible experience. It’s human nature.

Thankfully, the reverse is also true. When a customer has a notably pleasant experience, they’ll develop a more positive viewpoint of your company and its services. By looking for opportunities to create positive peaks in your CX, you can affect your customers’ overall impressions of your brand.

Contact center hold times impact peak-end effect metrics.

For many customers, waiting on hold triggers the emotional peak of a customer experience (and not a good one). By the time a customer has remained on hold for several minutes, they are likely frustrated and in a hurry to resolve their issue. The agent is forced to start the call with a stressed customer, significantly increasing the challenge of ending the call on a high note.

Worse, even when the agent goes above and beyond to deliver fantastic service, the caller will still perceive the interaction negatively because the long hold time was the negative peak of the experience for them.

Related: Sometimes customer perception is all that matters.

Create positive impressions with Mindful Callback.

You can transform hold time experiences into positive peaks by implementing a best-in-class callback solution. As your queues fill up during busy periods, Mindful Callback offers customers the option to receive a call back, either ASAP or at a scheduled time, instead of waiting around on hold. They can get back to what they were doing before they called and your agents can work under less pressure to speed through calls that need extra attention. Negative peak avoided.

Mindful Callback offers several features to bring relief and results to your contact center. For example, you can improve customer contact CX with tools like SMS notifications that send callers confirmation texts or reminders of upcoming callbacks.

In addition to enhancing call interactions with a better opportunity for a positive peak-end effect, callbacks can help companies measurably increase Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.

Summing up: Use the peak-end rule to improve CX.

When you put control of the experience back in the hands of customers and avoid wasting their time on hold, your customers will experience less frustration. This leaves more room for your employees to create a positive experience likely to make a lasting impression. Plus, your employees will enjoy their jobs more, leading to better customer perception, and ultimately, better NPS.

Mindful can boost your CX metrics by turning negative peak pitfalls into positive impressions that become lasting memories of your brand. Check out our demo to see for yourself!

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