Learning customer service (and serial positions) by being blindfolded

By Micah Solomon – keynote speaker, customer service speaker, customer service consultant, and #1 bestselling author of “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization.” Visit with Micah at https://customerserviceguru.com

Blindfolded woman in exercise
If you were here with me right now, the first thing I’d need to do [if you really want to learn how to serve your customers] is blindfold you. Then, I’d read you this list of spices:Tarragon.Lavender.Cardamom.Chicory.Safflower.Cinnamon.



And before things could proceed any further between us, I’d need you to write down all the words you remember from the list.

Sounds like you’d be on a date with a control freak. In reality, I just walked you through a traditional experimental demo, used hundreds of times each semester in introductory lectures by cognitive psychology professors all around the world. Here’s the point:

Imagine that each of, say, a hundred people took this test without peeking. Which spices would they remember best? There’s a very particular pattern that researchers always see:


serial position curve graph

This is known in psychology as the serial position effect: People most clearly remember the first thing that happened to them (Tarragon) and the last thing (Marjoram). The stuff that happened in between? It’s a bit of a blur.

Firsts and lasts are the real spice of life!

This insight provides us with an extremely valuable shortcut in providing great–i.e., perceived to be great– customer experience. Here’s how:

The way you greet and say good-bye to your customers are your “firsts” and “lasts”–the high points on the serial position curve pictured above. Handle them superbly, and your customer will recall — and will describe to others — an overall superb experience. And they’ll be able to immediately call to mind specific examples of how you were superb. Conversely, if you only excel in the middle of your interaction, you won’t get full credit for all that hard effort.

(a bonus post from the College of the Customer archives)

1 thought on “Learning customer service (and serial positions) by being blindfolded”

  1. Pingback: Department of First and Last Impressions | Customer service speaker – keynote speaker – consultant- author Micah Solomon’s customer service blog: COLLEGE OF THE CUSTOMER

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