Lasting Impressions Last in Customer Service

Jun 04, 2002

According to D.C. Denison’s column in a recent issue of The Boston Globe, last impressions count most.

Michael Chase, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles says, “One of the fundamental differences in a behavioral science approach is that you pay attention to how customers experience a transaction. That’s more important than just trying to do the transaction faster.”

Mr.s Chase and Dasu authored a Harvard Business Review article highlighting their research on customer service.

“Many people believe that first impressions are the most important,” Sriram Dasu, an associate professor at the Marshall School says. “That is dead wrong. The end is far more important – that’s what remains in people’s mind.”

Rather than labor mightily to shave a few seconds off the clock, customer service departments should be putting their efforts into structuring experiences to synch up better with the way humans actually process the information. “What sticks with you is not the event itself, but your perception of the event,” Mr. Chase says.

As a corollary to their “last impressions count” rule, the researchers advise companies to get the bad news out of the way early, to increase the odds that the customer’s experience will end on a good note.

Moderator Comment: How can retailers make a good last
impression on consumers?

Here is our personal top three.

  • We’d like to forego “the look” from a cashier when
    asking for paper inside plastic at the grocery store.

  • Getting through the express checkout at our local
    warehouse club in less than twenty minutes would be nice.

  • Being able to leave the national chain computer and
    consumer electronics stores without being patted down would be appreciated.

Anderson – Moderator

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