The Web as a Customer Service Medium: Tapping into Human Needs and the Mere Exposure Effect


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 12, 2023

3 min read


The Web as a Customer Service Medium: Tapping into Human Needs and the Mere Exposure Effect


The internet has revolutionized the way we interact and engage with information. It has become a powerful tool for customer service, allowing individuals to be consulted, engaged, and exercise their knowledge. This article explores the concept of the web as a customer service medium, the fundamental need for consultation, and the impact of the mere exposure effect on our preferences.

Tapping into the Human Need to be Consulted:

Humans have an innate desire to be consulted and engaged. The web has provided a platform for individuals to express their opinions and exercise their knowledge like never before. Websites like Wikipedia, Reddit, YouTube, and others have successfully tapped into this need and garnered interesting reactions. The concept of "Why wasn't I consulted" (WWIC) has become the fundamental question of the web, driving the development of platforms that prioritize consultation and engagement.

The Power of Wikipedia and YouTube:

Wikipedia, a free platform created by unpaid labor, exemplifies the success of tapping into the human need to be consulted. By allowing users to contribute and share knowledge, Wikipedia has become a go-to resource for information. Similarly, YouTube was created to give individuals the opportunity to upload and distribute videos, offering a level of consultation and engagement. The inclusion of comments, ranking systems, and discussion features on these platforms further enhances the WWIC experience.

MetaFilter and Reddit: Managing Online Communities:

MetaFilter and Reddit have approached the WWIC problem in their unique ways. MetaFilter focuses on moderation and managing the community, inviting members to filter and discuss the best of the web. The inclusion of MetaTalk, where users can discuss MetaFilter itself, demonstrates a deep understanding of the need for consultation about being consulted. Reddit, on the other hand, utilizes a simpler form for posts, encourages punishment or reward, and derives popular stories and comments from aggregate feedback. Both platforms showcase the power of consultation and engagement in building successful online communities.

The Mere Exposure Effect:

In psychology, the mere exposure effect refers to the phenomenon where people tend to prefer things they have seen before over new things. This effect occurs even if people do not consciously remember their previous exposure to the object. Research has shown that repeated exposure to an object increases people's liking towards it. The effect is not limited to humans but has also been observed in studies with non-human animals.

Understanding the Mechanisms:

The uncertainty reduction theory suggests that repeated exposure to something reduces our caution towards it. When we repeatedly see the same thing without any negative consequences, we realize there is no danger associated with it. Perceptual fluency also plays a role, making it easier for us to understand and interpret familiar objects. We tend to prefer things that are already familiar to us, as they require less cognitive effort.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Create a service experience around what you publish and sell. Define the boundaries of your community and engage with your customers. This will foster a sense of consultation and increase customer satisfaction.
  • 2. Don't blame people for looking bad in poorly designed systems. Ensure that your platform is user-friendly and accommodates the needs of your target audience. Make it easy for individuals to participate and engage.
  • 3. Utilize the mere exposure effect in your marketing strategies. Consider repeated exposure to your brand or product to increase customer preference. However, be mindful of overexposure, as it could lead to fatigue and decreased interest.


The web has transformed into a customer service medium that taps into the fundamental need for consultation and engagement. Platforms like Wikipedia, YouTube, MetaFilter, and Reddit have successfully harnessed the power of WWIC, creating thriving online communities. Additionally, understanding the mere exposure effect allows businesses to leverage repeated exposure to increase customer preference. By incorporating these insights and taking actionable steps, organizations can enhance their customer service and drive success in the digital world.

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