Why You Should Wow Them at the End
Designing experiences with a positive ending boosts user perception and referrals
What does a free toothbrush, the fastest sprinter in a relay race, and the sweetest dish on the menu all have in common? They all happen at the end of an experience.
This article is about the bulletproof rule anyone can use to boost their service business and even quality of life. Not only will this rule improve your customer retention and profit — nearly anyone can use it to enhance their relationships, creative hobbies, or seemingly banal day-to-day activities. But this strategy is so effective, it has spread like absolute wildfire in almost every single industry — from sports to entertainment to dentistry. In order to explain what that rule is, I ask you to take part in this thought experiment:
Imagine planning a birthday celebration with your close friends. It’s been a while since you’ve seen each other, so you decide to treat a small group to a nice night out at a local restaurant. The food is great, laughs are shared, you have some drinks, and the time comes to pay. Gladly (because it’s your treat), you hand the server your credit card and off he goes. After a few minutes, you see him calling you over from the register, and he then tells you your card has been denied. Bewilderingly, you offer another form of payment. Denied again. Feeling very shameful, you then walk back to the table and tell your friends that one of them will have to pay. They look at you oddly and someone eventually handles the bill. You feel stressed, shamed, and anxious about your finances, thinking the whole night was ruined.
Now the question: Would you consider that evening a good or bad experience?
This thought experiment illuminates that bad endings can have a huge impact on how experiences are later perceived. How many times have you heard someone complain that the ending of a movie completely ruined it? In retrospect, the unfortunate credit card denial didn’t affect the actual experience of dining and drinking with your friends. Most of the celebration was already done when the transaction bounced. But what has been affected is the memory of the experience, which humans internalize.
Designers are constantly trying…