The Memory of your Experience is More Important than your Experience


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Customers don’t choose between experiences, They choose between the MEMORY of their experiences

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The Memory of your Experience is More Important than your Experience

  1. 1. The Memory of Your Experience is MoreImportant than Your ExperienceProfessor Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Laureate, psychologist and expert on judgmentand decision-making, behavioural economics and hedonic psychology. I have given myexamples, while paraphrasing Colin Shaw. CEO of a global firm called Beyond Philosophy.Ive also added what this means to Customer Value versus Satisfaction. Read on:Kahneman says ‘there is a big difference between an experience and the memory of anexperience’. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it is not understood by most people such asCXOs, HR, Sales and Marketing and Customer Experience executives.We all know we are ‘experiencing’ things all the time. You are having an experience nowby reading this blog. Kahneman calls the experience of experiencing things, like you areexperiencing this reading, ‘the experiencing self’. But Kahneman says we also have a‘remembering self’.So let’s imagine I experience a telephone call with my bank, and it was not satisfactory.Then I talk about it with my friends, and I say I am unhappy and dissatisfied.A few weeks later, my memory of the experience would have been modified based on thefact I am more relaxed, the actual incidence does not rankle as much, and I have takensubconsciously my other interactions with the bank into account and I do not feel that bad.I think: Was the experience really that bad How do I feel now How does this experience compare with other such experiences How is the bank treating me overall Is there anything I remember that stands out, positive or negative? How did they perform in comparison to what I think they should have done or otherbanks?My answers are instantaneous, and if I would record them , I would say the bank’s systemsucks, they ask me to repeat my account number, but they are no worse than others, and Ido get some good work from them. My experience becomes less awful because thememory of the incident is less dissatisfying, and I am willing to continue doing businesswith the bank. This is why Value surveys are done much after the event and they measure
  2. 2. your memory experience perception, whereas satisfaction surveys measure the experienceperception instantaneously.Consider another example. We were having a Sunday lunch with friends and a wonderfulconversation, and suddenly a family with small kids, wailing and screaming sat next to usand the kids not only shrieked they ran around and it ruined it for us. Before the familycame in, my experiencing self would have said the experience was great. At the end Iwould say it was terrible, because my memory of the kids ruined the experience.There is a BIG difference between an experience and the memory of an experience. Mostpeople do not take this into account while designing, measuring and improving theirCustomer Experience. That is why they do not understand that satisfaction and value aredistinct and measure different things. One measures the experience and the other thememory of the experience.RememberCustomers don’t choose between experiences,They choose between the MEMORY of their experiencesSo learn to work with the memory of the experienceWhat are the implications on a Customer Experience? To understand a Customer experience, when should you ask for Customerfeedback? During the experience or after the memory is formed? Take my restaurantstory as an example. If I was asked what I thought of the restaurant before the familywith screeching kids came in, I would have given them a 9 out of 10. After the event,with the memory of that experience, I would have given a 5. I see too manycompanies whose call centres ask for a survey at the very end of their call. I wouldargue this does not allow people time to form a memory. I would argue this is stillpart of their experience. How many times have you been very annoyed at somethingthat happened but then calmed down’ after and realised you were beingunreasonable. After the call you may have given them 2 out of 10 but after two daysyour memory would give them a 5. Therefore, choosing the optimum time to ask forfeedback is key. Are you clear about what part of the experience you are measuring? In my example,if I was asked about the restaurant itself or my experience of eating there theanswers would be very different. What are you doing to help create a positive memory of the experience? How canyou add to people’s memories with positive reinforcement?After a few days. I called my friends and said I really enjoyed myself, because the memory
  3. 3. of the experience was that of our conversation and comradeship. I might have answereddifferently, had the restaurant called me.There are many more implications. This is just part of what we call Experience Psychology,which is critical to understand when improving your Customer Experience to drive $$$.It is essential that you realise your Customers have the ‘experiencing self’ and the‘remembering self’ and they choose between memories of experience.What implications do you see coming from this for improving a Customer Experience, oryour business, or your dealings with your employees?Contact Customer Value Foundation to learn about measuring Memories of Experiences,and Employee and Customer Value MeasurementGautam MahajanContact Customer Value Foundation for helpemail: mahajan@customervaluefoundation.comwebsite: