Colin Shaw is an official LinkedIn Influencer where he has recognized as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers.’ Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy LLC, has been selected by the Financial Times as one of the best management consultancies for the last two years. Colin has written seven bestselling books on Customer experience is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast.
The most important thing I have learned in the last fifteen years is customer loyalty is a function of memory.
When you think about it, you can’t be loyal to something you haven’t experienced. When you decide to return to the same restaurant, it is mainly due to the memory of the previous experience.
This means the memory of the experience you provide to your customers is critical.
I learned about one of the concepts of memory formation from the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Daniel Kahneman in this TED talk, “The riddle of experiences vs. memory.” In it, Kahneman talks about the ‘remembering self’ and the ‘experiencing self.’ The experiencing self is you reading this blog – but what will you remember from reading this blog? This is your remembering self.
What does this have to do with customer experience? Everything!
What memory does your customer have of the last call with you? Is the memory you created for the customer the memory you really wanted them to have of your brand? Remember, the customers’ score on your customer satisfaction survey is based on their memory.
We don’t choose between experiences; we choose between the memory of an experience.
Stop and think about this for a moment. People are loyal to your company or brand because of their memory. This says memories are more important than the experience.
Therefore, customers return to you because of their memory of the experiences you gave to them.
Unfortunately, we humans aren’t great at remembering everything. Instead, our minds hold onto specific information only. But we do remember memories that have emotions attached. Suppose the customer feels particularly frustrated or happy, for example.
For these reasons, it is also essential that frontline teams understand how we form memories; otherwise, you could unwittingly help customers create the wrong ones. You should know what specific information customers hold onto after experiences.
How Memories Are Formed
Professor Kahneman’s research with Fredrickson, Schreiber and Redelmeier in 1993 explains one-way memories are formed from the Peak-End rule.
The Peak-End Rule explains that we judge experiences based on how we felt at the moment of most powerful emotion, or the Peak, and how we felt when the experience concluded, or the End. It is best to clarify that it doesn’t matter if the Peak and End are positive or negative; they can be either or both, and we will still remember them.
For further explanation, you may want to listen to our podcast on the subject:
Creating Positive Memories of Customer Experiences as a Deliberate CX Strategy
What emotional outcome is ideal for your experience? For many of you, that answer might be ‘good’ or ‘positive.’ While these answers are not wrong, they are not specific enough.
To get clear about that emotional outcome, you must first understand what you have now and then decide what you want in the future.
Controlling the outcome of your experience to form a positive customer memory is critical to fostering loyalty in your customer experience strategy. However, like all the other parts of your customer experience, memory formation should not be left to chance.
Creating the memories you need requires evoking the customer emotions you want. I have three key questions I use to help clients get there:
- What feelings does your experience evoke now?
- What emotions do you want your experience to produce?
- How can you consistently get there with customers?
#1: What emotions does your experience evoke now?
Experience design should start by understanding where you are peaking and ending up right now. Every organization should be clear about the Peak emotion of the experience and how the process leaves them feeling at the End.
Understanding these current emotions, especially the Peak one since you probably won’t control them, is essential to learning to manage them to the best possible and memorable outcome.
#2. What emotions do you want your experience to evoke?
Next, organizations should decide what emotion they want to evoke. These feelings ensure customers remember the right things about your experience when they think about it afterward.
Emotions can drive or destroy value.
When I say ‘value,’ I mean what your organization receives: increased spend, increased customer satisfaction, increased retention, etc. The most positive emotions, such as Happy and Pleased, are the ones that form good memories—frustrated, disappointed, and angry do not. However, many more subtle emotions between these extremes drive customer behavior, too.
Therefore, you cannot be too specific about the feeling you are aiming to evoke.
However, the emotion you land on for your experience must drive value. Moreover, you should be able to prove it.
Researching to determine what customers want from your service team can help you choose which emotion you want for your experience that will ultimately move the needle on whatever metric your company measures. We have Emotional Signature® research based on our work with the London School of Business that can help. In this research, we discovered a hierarchy of emotions that drive value.
In addition, everyone must know what the targeted feeling is. Everyone should be working toward the same goal throughout the organization, or you could end up evoking mixed emotions, which may or may not drive value for you long-term.
#3: How can you consistently get there with customers?
Finally, I would encourage you to look for ways to evoke this emotion consistently in your experiences. Walk the experience as if you were a customer to see when and where you are evoking the emotions you want—and where you aren’t.
Consider the current opportunities during your present experience that you can alter to drive customer emotions to a more favorable outcome.
I would recommend that you train your people to identify the emotions your customer is feeling on the call with you and teach them how to change this emotion to the ones you have selected that drive value. You can use specific language during interactions or revamp the process for certain customer contacts based on company policies.
Moreover, customer-facing employees should understand how memories form and have specific actions they undertake to manage customer emotions to the proper and optimized outcome for ideal memory formation. Therefore, training your team on guiding customer memories is essential.
Why Memory is the #1 Way to Drive Customer Service ROI in 2022
I have learned a lot since my school days, and I’m sure still have a lot to learn. However, the most important thing I have learned in the last fifteen years, without a doubt, is that customer loyalty is a function of memory.
Thus, the most important thing for your customer strategy is to evoke emotions that drive value for you and help customers remember you did it. Improvements to the experience that produce the emotional outcome for proper memory formation can catapult customer loyalty to new heights.