The Remembering Self and Service Experience

As a grocer, Carrefour excels at providing a wide variety of products. But as a one-stop shopping experience they have a lot of room for improvement. The visit is rather pleasant up until the very end when it comes to one of the most important aspects from a business point of view: The transaction. That is to say, Carrefour could learn a lesson or two in operations management for their checkout process. While I’m waiting in a 40 min line, I can’t help but consider what this does to my overall experience and opinion of Carrefour and my likelihood of return.

Following the work of David, Kahneman, while I am physically at Carrefourdoing my grocery shopping, I am my experiencing self – that is to say the part of ourself that experiences the present moment. This is different from what he calls the remembering self – the part of us that bases our future decisions on our past experiences. His study, which can be heard here (http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_kahneman_the_riddle_of_experience_vs_memory.html), suggests that the remembering self can and does over rule our experiencing self depending on how the events of a particular life episode play out. The saying “trip at the finish line” comes to mind when thinking about this phenomenon; if the experiencing self has a negative reaction towards an event´s end, then the remembering self will look back on the entire event as having been bad. This then affects future decision-making.         This study is especially pertinent to service based business – though it is important to ensure customer satisfaction during the entire service deliverance, it is especially important at the very end topromote the well being of the remembering customer. So, when I look back on my experience at Carrefour, which was very positive as I loaded my cart with a wide variety of products, many of which are hard to find anywhere else in Spain, I don’t think of any of that; I think only about the fact that I had to wait in line for 40 minutes, only to arrive at the front and have half the cash registers closed. The irritation my experiencing self felt in that moment pales in comparison to the red flags that wave in my mind whenever I consider going back.

At this point, Carrefour can get away with it – they’re the only hypermarket in the neighborhood and more importantly, Spanish culture is more tolerant of waiting than that of the US. If a competitor ever challenged Carrefour’s hold on the market, they could create a serious competitive advantage by offering better service.

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