Peak-End rule violation: “Did you find everything you needed?”

I get this question from almost every store I shop at.

The question just causes me to think of what I didn’t find. And that is the problem.

It violates the peak-end psychology rule for improving your customer experience.

The question likely highlights a peak point of pain for this shopping experience since I now think about another trip I have to make to find that thing.

Or worse, I don’t make the trip but I have the stress of holding on to the need to make the trip in my head.

So both the peak and the end is are now coverted to pain and that frames my customer experience for this visit. Fail.

I think of the following what I get that question:

  • All I am going to say is yes. If I say no, then I might get delayed getting out of here.
  • Why didn’t someone ask me that when I was shopping, before I got in line?
  • I actually did find everything I need so what is the point here? I don’t feel better because you asked me to state the obvious.
  • I would have found someone on the floor to help me find what I could not find. I don’t want to wait in line again.
  • I can tell by your tone you really don’t want to keep asking that question.
  • Some consumer psychology consultant told your management that you should ask me this because there are 10 reasons why it makes me more loyal. It doesn’t.
  • I would rather say the thing I really need but I know you don’t have just to see what you would say. I know you can’t make it happen…unless I was at Nordstroms…then they might actually get it for me.

When I worked at a large Safeway grocery store while I was in high school, I loved when people asked me were something was when I walking down an aisle. I knew where just about every item was. It tested my knowledge. And I helped someone. A double win.

Here are some alternative questions a store cashier could ask and might want to ask to get a double win.

Each question at least goes in the direction of a positive point and indicates the company maybe cares….hence improving the end of the shopping experience.

  • What was the best thing you bought today?
  • What is the best thing you remember buying here on any visit?
  • What do you wish we had for sale here?
  • Thanks for shopping with us. I hope to see you here again.

Interestingly, I’m pretty sure Apple does not ask the “Did you find everything…” question when you pay at their retail store. The employee smiles, says thank you and so does the employee at the front of the store when you walk out. I think they thought this through.

Simple things at the end of a customer experience are not costly but impact a person’s memory of the experience…because of the peak-end rule.


You can read my other Medium posts about innovation here. Thanks.