Backward Attribution & Your Reputation


Backward Attribution & Your Reputation

We moved Parker World Headquarters across town last week, and while I wouldn’t wish moving on my worst enemy, this time was different. We hired professionals to move almost everything and our team did a masterful job of juggling all the extra balls associated with the move, while not skipping a beat operationally. 

My office was obviously a little different, so I enlisted help from my wife, Jill, to make my furniture conform to the laws of feng shui. At 5PM on Friday afternoon, I surveyed my new space satisfied, turned off the light and left without a second thought. Then something unexpected happened over the weekend. I walked in Monday morning and my office felt like I had been there for a “million” years. 

Magically, after two days, my new office felt familiar and comfortable like an old pair of shoes. That got me thinking about other instances where my brain routinely nestles comfortably into familiarity after a short exposure to something new. 

I’m going to call this phenomenon “backward attribution.” In other words, things you observe today take on a historical value, as if that is the way it has been for a long time before. And to me, this is a powerful and hopeful concept for all of us who aspire to change and do better.

This backward attribution affords individuals or companies the opportunity to immediately make a positive change and then get historical credit for it, as if that is the way it has always been. 

Think about the power of changing your company’s historical reputation on a dime. I’ve seen it many times before and I’ve written it in these very pages. One person can make a huge difference when their positive energy creates an impression on everyone they touch. Think of this through the lens of your company. Through backward attribution, with your employees (the people who represent your organization) it can gain historical “credit” instantly with each new first encounter.

This phenomenon can also happen in a negative way, too. If your customer’s last touch with you is unpleasant, your company will be labeled by that person, in a negative way. We humans are not generally a forgiving bunch.

We don’t say “that person must be having a bad day.” We believe that person is the company, through association. When they don’t provide a great experience, our customers’ conclusion is not “that person didn’t treat me well,” rather, it is “that company didn’t treat me well.” The risk of not getting it right every time is that each falter takes on historical significance for that customer. However, it can be changed back to positive with another encounter with your company IF you get that second chance. The good news is that you can change it back.

We change back, or reverse, a bad impression by authentically placing emphasis and effort on creating a positive customer experience every time. That effort is then rewarded with “backward attribution,” which then leads to loyalty and repeat business. 

As our industry transforms and digitization of the parking experience offers our customers more choices, it’s incumbent on us to make sure every interaction with our customers is a good one. Because the parking experience is becoming less and less about location and more about choice. It’s up to us to ensure that from first to last touch, everything is carefully curated to create an experience worthy of a trip to Disney or an online shopping experience with Amazon.

The winners of the new parking experience will be those that pay attention to the details, train frontline people on the importance of making every interaction a positive one, and match the customer experience of the best companies in the world. My assignment for you this month is to become a student of the customer experience game and pay attention to how you give companies this backward attribution, both good and bad, with each interaction you have with them. 

What you’ll begin to see is how you give each business an implicit “score” with backward attribution, and that score determines if you’ll visit them again. Your customers are doing the same to your business, so if you make each touch count, you’ll be handsomely rewarded. To be indifferent is to risk a repeat sale and reputation. The choice is yours. You can change the course of history with each experience… now let’s go do that!

Article contributed by:
Brian Wolff
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