Sage Publications, an international publisher of academic and professional learning, recently recognized “Sticktion: Assessing Memory for the Customer Experience,” by authors Lewis Carbone and Kathryn LaTour, and first published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (CHQ, November 2014), as 2014 Sage article of the year.

The “Sticktion” article, which had previously been named by the CHQ editorial board as its 2014 article of the year, highlighted the need for companies to intentionally design and implement managed experiences that are embedded with “experience clues” (i.e. those that involve sights, sounds, gestures and voice inflections from employees and the environment and the functionality of a product or service) so memories of positive experiences leave a deeper and more last impression on the minds of customers. Carbone and LaTour call this concept of achieving strong impressions or lasting memories “Sticktion,” a term Carbone was first exposed to by 3M Co. engineers to describe the design point between abrasion and slippage that should exist when a magnetic head “reads” information by sensing the magnetic particles on a tape that register a strong signal.

In the article Carbone and LaTour propose the importance and benefits to companies when they intentionally design experiences that will leave deep, lasting impressions with customers.  Working with Pizza Hut UK, Experience Engineering researchers and LaTour, tested specific aspects of the dining experience to see what would leave a lasting impression with customers and helped the company design and include those elements in its new restaurant concepts. “In the case of restaurant experiences, we wanted to understand what creates deep emotional memories of wonderful meal experiences,” Carbone said. “We found that memories can fade and sometimes people fill in with negative, invented details. Thus, service operators must be intentional about creating positive, memorable experiences embedded with “clues” that make a significant and deep impression.”

Pizza Hut tested the final concept prototypes at four so-called “alpha” Huts in the United Kingdom with the initial results showing more than double-digit increases in year-over-year sales.

Carbone suggested that the Sage “article of the year” recognition, like the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly award, brings needed attention to the insight that while “organizations’ desire to create highly memorable customer experiences…[they] must go well beyond process improvent or defect elimination.  In fact, they would be better served by insuring more definitive unconscious emotional and memorable clues are embedded with high ‘Sticktion’”.

To see a video presentation of Carbone’s and LaTour’s findings click here. To read more about “sticktion” and details of Carbone’ and LaTour’s work with Pizza Hut UK click here. Next, click on the “Full Text (PDF)” button on the bottom of the page.

About Experience Engineering

Founded in 1992 by Lewis (Lou) Carbone, Experience Engineering is exclusively dedicated to customer and employee experience design and management. The consulting firm helps companies learn what customers really “think” by discovering their emotions and unconscious thoughts and offers solutions to help its clients increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and repeat business.

Experience Engineering serves several industries including travel, healthcare, retail, technology, financial services, manufacturing, and education. Its clients include Lowe’s, AT&T, Nemours and Boston Children’s Hospital, La Quinta Hotels, Pizza Hut UK, KFC, Avis, H&R Block, General Motors, IBM, Taco Bell, Progressive Auto Insurance, John Deere, Blockbuster, IBM, Time Warner Cable, Deluxe Financial Services, Office Depot, Audi of America and Royal Bank of Canada.

For further information, please contact William J. Schirmers, Experience Engineering, at (952) 942-8880 or

About Sage Publishing

SAGE is the world’s 5th largest journals publisher. Our portfolio includes more than 750 journals spanning the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science, Technology, and Medicine, and more than 300 are published on behalf of learned societies and institutions.