In a Service Economy, Make the Experience Good, but the Memory Even Better

The Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference was last month and I’m reaping the rewards of what appears to be a terrific line up of talks. There are several that grabbed my attention.

Daniel Kahneman is considered the father of behavior psychology – the field Dan Pink recently wrote about in Drive – and he did a great overview of experience versus memory. It’s a subtle distinction, but makes perfect sense. Dr. Kahneman describes situations about music and colonoscopies, but the perfect example for me is the movie The Departed. I’m just like anyone else, when I watch a movie I want to be entertained. The Departed was well acted and had a good plot. I clenched my stomach the entire time. But I don’t like the movie because of the way it ended. I barely remember 130 of the 151 minutes of it.

My memory of the movie and my experience of the movie are two distinct things. As a businessman, I need to take that to heart. My customers need to have positive memories of the service I provide. It’s why so many people push to be 100% perfect in the delivery, because they know a flaw, any flaw, can be remembererd mightily over all the good parts.

A few weeks ago I wrote about understanding your customers in context – 3 minutes before and 3 minutes after they engage with you. It’s a good idea to meld the 3 minutes after with a positive memory.


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