Earlier this year I landed in Melbourne after a 17-hour flight from Dubai via Singapore (with a baby), and had an interesting experience at duty free. The guy serving asked me “Strong bag for a dollar?”. I didn’t actually know what he was talking about, but in my sleep deprived state I wasn’t up to working it out, so I just nodded.
At the other cash register I watched the same question being asked slightly differently, “would you prefer a regular bag, or a strong bag for a dollar extra?”. The woman just got a regular bag. Interesting, I thought, if I was asked that question I would have just got a regular bag. But even though I had that thought, I still didn’t have the energy to change what I had. Last week I caught up with my friend Craig Cherry who helps customer service business with similar “nudges”. For example helps hotels lift the percentage of people who order the wine of the day rather than the house wine (for a dollar more), and the percentage of people who order bread or get dessert by training the staff in what they say and how they serve.
Thaler and Sunstein have written a fabulous book about this phenomenon called Nudge. They cite study after study that show how little nudges can have a big impact on behaviour.
For example, when it comes to organ donation (a pretty important decision at a societal level – are you happy for someone else to have your organs when you’re dead?), about 80% of people will just go with the default option. So in countries where that option is ticked and you have to consciously change it, the vast majority of people are organ donors. On the other hand in countries like Australia where you have to opt in, the vast majority of us don’t.
And as they point out in the book, it’s impossible not to influence the decisions your prospects and customers make, and whether its influence or manipulation comes down to whether it’s in their best interests or not. Was I manipulated into buying a strong bag for a dollar, or just influenced?
It’s commercially smart to understand what the levers are that influence buying decisions, both when you are selling and buying.
Love to hear your thoughts – what do you think about nudging prospects and customers in the direction you want? You can leave them below.