We are curators of experiences. Like a collection of wine, or art, or stamps, we examine our collections, and select, organize, and care for the items contained within the collection. The best experiences serve multiple purposes. They remind us of how well we’ve lived, which doesn’t necessarily equate to how luxuriously we’ve lived.

Sure, it could be the five-star restaurant in Paris or the first drive in that Porsche, but more often than not, it’s the simple things that evoke the greatest feelings of pleasure. These memories enliven us, particularly when we’re feeling down. They give us hope that we’ll be able to experience something as good or better in the future.

A friend still talks about the best fish taco he’s ever had—twenty years after having eaten it! With the most exquisite detail, he describes how beautiful the day was in Baja California, romanticizing the sight of the surf, the sound of the seagulls, the smell of the salt air. He can still hear the sizzle as the fish hit the grill in the makeshift taco stand, and he rhapsodizes poetically about that first bite. What do we take away from this? Most importantly, the feeling the experience left him with.

Another friend recounts how he walked into the hardware store the day after his mom died to get some painting supplies to ready the property for sale. “The guy behind the counter, whom I hadn’t paid much attention to on previous trips, asked if I was OK. He told me that I was always happy when I came in and said I looked a bit down. I lost it, right in the middle of the store. He took me aside, brought me a cup of coffee, and we talked for about ten minutes. I was just buying a can of paint, but I’ll always remember both that store and that employee for their compassion, kindness, and caring. And I tell this story every time I can.” Again, the most important takeaway here was the feeling.

The best experiences are the ones that we enjoy recounting for friends and recall when we need a lift. They have the power to transport us, effortlessly, and with zero expense. These are the experiences in life that we want to have many more of!

The worst ones serve as a powerful reminder of “never again.” And when they’re associated with a brand, because of the emotional impact that they have, we’ll do whatever we can to avoid them, and in so doing, avoid the brand associated with them.

So, what emotions are you evoking in your customers? What emotions do you want to evoke in your customers? What stories do you want them to tell about your business, not only after walking out of the store or completing a transaction online, or chatting with your team, but five, 10, or 20 years later? Think about that this week. Then ask some of your customers how they feel about doing business with you. If the response is good, enhance what you’re doing. If it’s not, correct course. It’s the most effective way to move beyond being OK with being OK, and to elevate the experience you provide your customers.

Portions excerpted from:

The Power of Promise: How to Win and Keep Customers By Telling the Truth About Your Brand

By Ken Mosesian

Available at Amazon