Forget, Replace, and Repeat

Change your customers’ contact center “brand memory” for the better

We humans have long memories. Our cumulative experiences with a brand shape what we feel, think, and anticipate in each new experience.  

When my experiences with a company’s contact center have been poor or unremarkable, my feelings come through:  I postpone contacting them, delay the inevitable, and then brace myself for more of the same.  My feathers are easily ruffled when my “right now” experience feels like déjà vu and “here we go again.”

The more a company disappoints, the more I seem to remember. That’s not a good thing for me or for them. Who hasn’t gotten into a “you can’t top this one” conversation about a horrible experience? It’s cathartic, and in some sick way, it can be entertaining.  But the truth is, I want to love the companies I do business with. I want the experience to be easy, as effortless as possible, and, on a human level, I want to feel good about the human interaction every time.

The good news is that I am noticing a shift as brands begin to understand and embrace the fact that  there are no throw-away or insignificant customer encounters, whether it’s person to person, on line or self-service.  As a customer, that thrills me.  When I unexpectedly experience great service from a just-okay brand, I think “Wow. Who knew?” And then, beyond the emotional relief, “What just happened? From my perspective as the customer, it was about the rep’s ability to help me forget what I had been trained from past experience to think, feel, and expect:

  • I forgot to try really hard to get this rep to “get” me because they connected with me as a person and gave my feelings their due; I felt respected by this rep.

  • I forgot to have my back up even just a bit and abandoned the need to lead the interaction because they did so in a way that made things easy and effortless for me. I could trust this rep’s knowledge and skills.

  • I forgot that this “company representative” might be sitting in a contact center and subject to performance measures that either drive or inhibit the customer’s experience – in this case, mine. I forgot because they paced our interaction based on what worked for me. I felt comfortable working with this rep.

As exceptional customer experiences continue to be positively correlated with satisfaction, retention, and the bottom line, brands need to give some thought to this dynamic of “forgetting and replacing”. Helping the customer forget the negative or ho-hum is an “every-encounter opportunity” and consistency is key. Isn’t that true of every relationship? It is how new, positive memories are shaped and internalized while mediocre or negative memories become less significant and forgettable. It is also how you begin to create experiences that your customers want to repeat.