I went to Pizza Express for lunch with the kids the other day. It’s one of those restaurants that falls into the category of ‘I know exactly what I’m going to get’. And I don’t mean it in a detrimental way at all, if anything it’s good thing. Usually we can be out of there within 90 minutes without feeling rushed.

This particular lunchtime seemed no busier than any other. But for some reason we received what can only be described as the slowest and worst service we have ever received. Not only did it take well over two hours, but they kept forgetting things that we had ordered.

So what’s my point?

As a customer we go into situations with expectations formed from accumulated past experience, either our own or acquired from people whose opinions we know and trust. Subsequent experiences will be judged against the backdrop of what has taken place in the past. The criteria we use to judge our experience by is vague at best, random at worst, and everchanging.

From a business’ perspective, however, it’s a whole lot trickier to continually meet customers’ expectations. The goodwill bank that is painstakingly built up over time can be depleted within moments. Businesses are continually challenged to provide experiences that are memorable, unique, or provide a ‘wow’ factor.

For both sides, however, the customer experience is a momentary occurence where one person’s ‘satisfactory’ is another company’s ‘memorable’. And unfortunately the two may rarely meet.