Recalling Service Experiences

When recalling an experience, we often think that we are rational creatures - that we take the experience and assess it based on the average highs and lows throughout its duration. However, research suggests otherwise. The primacy bias and the recency bias show that more important than the duration of pain or pleasure, or even the intensity of it as an average, is the way the experience started and ended.

The illustration above shows that although we might think that the first experience is, overall, more pleasant due to its general stability, in fact, the second experience is more likely to be recalled favourable because of the relative highs its beginning and end.

This has numerous implications for designing pleasant and memorable service experiences. Chief among them is the importance of ending on a high note. Although you may be tempted to start on a high, it is absolutely crucial to manage expectations along the way. If you start too high and then fail to deliver, your service will not be recalled fondly. If you want people to love the experience, make sure that you delight them right at the end.