Tonight, I will give you a hospitality 101 lesson.
A few hours ago, I discussed with some friends the fact that most people have a negative bias, meaning that they tend to remember negative things more frequently and vividly than they do positive things. It is basic human nature, and I bet on average, you probably remember the bad parts of a conversation or a workday more than the good parts. I’m just as guilty at this as anyone at times…just ask my parents. 🙂
In the hospitality world, there is a constant battle to stave off this negativity bias because it is the foundation for a scary “statistic” of sorts called The Rule of Ten. The rule states that each single unsatisfied customer will tell ten of her friends, family members, or acquaintances about her negative experience. Those ten people will then turn around and tell another ten people each, thereby magnifying this person’s bad experience and leading to a huge loss in potential business. Scary stuff.
I’ve seen the negativity bias and Rule of Ten multiple times in different work and personal scenarios. I can recall a retired couple who were on a weekend getaway in the mountains. They loved every second of their escape; they hiked, enjoyed the views, drank local wines. Unfortunately, when it was time to check out there were mistakes on their bill and it took over 20 minutes to refund their overcharged credit card. In a matter of minutes, all the good experiences the couple partook in the previous two days vanished and all they could focus on was being overcharged. ??Unfortunately, I know that’s probably what they remember most from that trip. As the unlucky front guest agent that day, I can tell you that it’s not fun to be the messenger of the moment that causes the negativity bias to fall into play.
Which is why it’s so nice to hear about how you did just the opposite and gave someone a positive bias, if only for a day.
Yesterday, a somewhat regular customer ate lunch with my boss to discuss an upcoming event for an organization of which she is a member. I stopped by their table to say hello, and she began to recall a time a couple months ago when I surprised her with a plate of chocolate chip muffins and cookies after she divulged to me that she had bombed a job interview. I remember that day because she was having a glass of wine at the hotel bar, and I could just tell that she was depressed in the way people are when things don’t go as expected. When she explained that she performed poorly in a big interview, I thought that a little treat would help get her mind off of things. So I left the bar, bothered the cooks for some chocolate, and delivered the sweets to her and her friends. It was a tiny thing that took me three minutes to do, and yet she remembered it clearly months later. I’m sure she recalls the interview, too, but at least she has a happy memory from that day that stands out just as vividly as the initial cause of her disappointment.
Those types of experiences really do make you feel good. It’s really not that hard to make someone’s day, and I think it’s a good daily goal to have. Now if only the hospitality books could be re-written to discuss a new Rule of Ten that’s based on a positive bias….