My daughter, at the time age ten, told me, in regards to amusement parks: “I like rides that you don’t like until they’re over.” I am rather more experienced than she as a customer service consultant. But I find this observation of hers a perfect place to start talking about human memory, especially customer memory.
The human memory is highly unreliable: Just think of the multitude of wrongful convictions based on mistaken eyewitness identifications.
More to the point for service providers, memory is incomplete and selective.
Rather than being able to retrieve an entire experience from memory, our customers tend to retain just a mental snapshot or two, taken during a moment or moments in that experience.
In my daughter’s case, that snapshot is taken after the amusement park ride ends, and brings back a sense of bravery, of getting through to the other side.
This phenomenon offers hope to customer service providers: If things go wrong for a customer initially, do a grand job of getting to the other side of that challenge and you may create a positive memory that literally supplants the initial unpleasantness.
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and a customer experience speaker, trainer, and bestselling author.