This newsletter is the second in a 3 part series related to one of my favorite topics in my continuing mini-series on memory. Last time, we discussed how recall drives our behavior and where memories are formed based on a podcast that covered the same topics. In this issue, we will cover how memories are connected and the different types of memories we have.
Memories exist as a network structure. What that means is that no memory is isolated from all other memories. They’re tied together.
One way to think of the memory network is to picture a fishing net flat at the bottom of a shallow pool. This net represents our network of memories, so each knot in the net symbolizes a single memory, and the shallow pool is our subconscious. Everything below the pool’s surface is our long-term memory in the background, like storage.
When we remember something, we retrieve it from our long-term memory and put it into our short-term memory. So, imagine that retrieval is you grabbing one of those knots in the net and pulling it up past the surface. Once it’s past the surface, it is now into consciousness. We now remember that.
However, when we remember something and grab that knot, it drags along the rest of the net. So by remembering this one thing, it breaks the surface of the water, but so do a couple of other knots in the net. Now, we may also remember related ideas. However, the other ones, the knots that didn’t break the surface, are closer. Therefore, even those memories we were not choosing to remember now are more active and influence us.
For example, if you were choosing a restaurant for dinner and decided you wanted Indian food, you might think of some nearby Indian restaurants you like.
However, you might also think of some that are not nearby, or maybe even India itself. Or perhaps you think about a favorite character in a television show you liked who had a funny bit about hating Indian food and its effects on their digestive system afterward. You might even remember that the neighborhood nearby to your favorite Indian food place also has an Italian place you like, in case you change your mind. All of these knots (aka memories) were drawn to the surface by the retrieval of Indian restaurants in your memory.
The Different Types of Memory
Memories, while connected, are different. We have various types of memories. For example, we remember vacations as a kid, but we also remember the dates and facts about famous battles of history. These are very different types of memory.
Psychologists came up with categories of memories, which include:
- Explicit: Explicit memories, or declarative memories, are like memories that you would find on a test, like historical dates, times, names, and other bits of factual information, like passwords.
- Implicit: Implicit memories are procedural memory of the order you do things or how things work, meaning remembering how to make a recipe or log into your computer. We might learn this explicitly, memorizing it, but we often learn implicit things by doing it. Habits are also like a memory, and many times, they’re best considered as this procedural implicit memory. They tend to be procedural or implicit, and you access them automatically.
- Episodic: Episodic is the type of memory that would go into your journal or diary. Many Customer Experience memories are episodic, like the last shopping trip or vacation.
- Evaluative: Evaluative memory is different than these other types in that it describes how you feel about the memory when looking back on it. Evaluative memory is the context we use to talk about the Peak-End Rule.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Daniel Kahneman came up with the Peak-End Rule. The Peak-End Rule describes how what we remember about something is the peak emotion or the most intense feeling we had and how we felt at the end. These two moments form memories.
From a Customer Experience perspective, the Peak-End Rule is essential. It clarifies what two moments are the priority in any customer experience and also begs the question of what emotion you want your customers to feel. That question begs another: What emotion drives the most value for you?
Professor Kahneman also came up with something that I had a profound effect on my thinking about memory. He said that customers don’t choose between experiences but their memory of them. So, therefore, the experience isn’t as essential as the customers’ memories of it.
Therefore, for your customer strategy, managing the Evaluative memories your customers have is vital. Working all of this in your customer strategy is essential to getting customers to remember you the way you want and come back for more.
Let me tie this back together with the fishing net.
There are no separate fishing nets for these different types of memories. Remembering an explicit or declarative memory pulls up a network that might contain other explicit or implicit, or episodic memories. All kinds of memories are tied together in the net, and remembering this (explicitly, of course) is essential for managing customers’ memories of your experience.
I love the fishing net analogy. I also love this subject and look forward to our next part, the series finale.
In the final installment of our mini-series on memory, we will examine how we store memories and what techniques we have for that. We will also look closely at why we forget things. But, perhaps most importantly, we will discuss what all of this memory stuff has to do with customer strategy and how you can apply it practically to Customer Experience.
So, whatever you do with this information, don’t forget to check back here for our third part of the mini-series on memory.
If you have a business problem that you would like some help with, contact me on LinkedIn or submit your pickle here. We would be glad to hear from you and help you with your challenges.
There you have it. No promotions, no gimmicks, just good information.
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