top of page

Experience Moments: The Importance of the Peak and the Ending

In their book The Power of Moments, authors Chip and Dan Heath unravel the mystery behind what makes experiences memorable. They argue that the most critical parts of any experience are the peak moments and the ending, as these are the times that etch themselves into one's memory and color their reflection on the experience as a whole. Even fleeting experiences can be profoundly impactful, the Heaths note. Regardless of the duration, our most defining life moments often arise through accident or serendipity.

Yet the Heath brothers urge us not to leave this to chance alone. They offer practical strategies for intentionally crafting peak moments for customers to elevate their journey. The authors write convincingly that by focusing on intensifying joy, alleviating anxiety, expressing appreciation or affirming one's values at the right times, we can deliver standout moments that positively shape impressions and memories. Whether running a small business or large corporation, we would do well to apply these insights on the power of moments. With some forethought, we can transform ordinary interactions into extraordinary experiences that delights customers, empowers employees and builds enduring relationships.

The magic of a Disney park. 

To illustrate the outsized influence of peaks and endings, the Heath brothers propose a scenario where the reader takes their children to Disney World for a single-day visit. The authors then ask readers to imagine texting them a real-time rating every hour evaluating the quality of the experience up to that point.

At the beginning of the day, with excitement in the air, your rating might be about a 6. Nothing has gone wrong, but you also haven’t started to experience the magic yet. Throughout the day, you take the kids on a few calm rides after waiting in hour-long queues, your rating averaging to about a 5. Then, you go on Space Mountain, one of the park’s most exhilarating rides. Your rating is up to a 10. More lines and hot weather bring your rating down slightly. On the way out of the park, you buy your kid some Mickey Mouse ears, bringing your rating back up to an 8.

Averaging the overall scores throughout the day may show it to be average or slightly above average. However, several weeks after the experience, people are likely to rate their day as a 9, overall. This thought experiment highlights the selectivity of human memory. As the Heaths explain, we distinctly recall extraordinary high points and emotional closures, while mundane moments fade away. Over time, the most intense spikes of joy, excitement or connection and the feeling created at the finale become far more salient than the surrounding details when we reflect back.

On the other hand, a completely negative experience will completely dominate the good moments. The Heath brothers reference these moments as “pits.” Pits overtake the peaks and end of the experience. 

The power of a popsicle hotline.

In another scenario, the Heaths describe an unremarkable California hotel that stumbled upon a clever peak moment for its guests. The amenities and services offered were thoroughly ordinary except for one delightful twist - a "popsicle hotline" at the pool. This simple, unexpected delight offered a burst of refreshment and childlike joy for guests, creating smiles and memories requiring little effort or expense on the hotel's part.

And though the popsicle delivery may seem like just a tiny moment, the reviews prove otherwise; this seemingly small moment turns a 3-star hotel into a 5-star one.

How to control customer experiences.

When it comes to your business, enhance your customer’s experiences by finding your “popsicle hotline,” an extraordinary idea that isn’t too much of a lift. This discovery could  become your customers’ peak moments, allowing you to allocate the majority of your focus to their ending.

From the welcoming first contact to the closing transaction, employees must consistently exceed expectations, anticipate needs, and deliver reliable care. While peaks leave unforgettable memories, a sour “final taste” can undermine prior perceptions. By doubling down on service quality throughout the entire experience, you can send your customers off with warmth, gratitude and a glowing overall recollection of their time with your business.

It’s time to take your business from average to extraordinary. Work with us to dream up your “popsicle hotline.”


bottom of page