Choice Hacking https://www.choicehacking.com Business problems are human problems. Fri, 02 Dec 2022 12:46:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0.3 https://www.choicehacking.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/cropped-Favicon-CH-1.png Choice Hacking https://www.choicehacking.com 32 32 Customer Experience Measurement: How to use metrics in your customer journey map https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/12/02/customer-experience-measurement/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=customer-experience-measurement Fri, 02 Dec 2022 12:38:22 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/?p=11939 “When CX initiatives don’t deliver, CEOs cease to support them, plain and simple... ‘connecting CX with business results’ is the key to gaining buy-in from CEOs, [so] why has this disconnect prevailed?” — Sampson Lee, Customer Think Customer experience measurement is a complex topic. Most experiences have multiple touchpoints, possibly in different channels, with different objectives. […]

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“When CX initiatives don’t deliver, CEOs cease to support them, plain and simple... ‘connecting CX with business results’ is the key to gaining buy-in from CEOs, [so] why has this disconnect prevailed?” 
— Sampson Lee, Customer Think

Customer experience measurement is a complex topic. Most experiences have multiple touchpoints, possibly in different channels, with different objectives. How do you know what’s working and what’s not?

Using a customer journey map to visualize your experience is a great place to start. Journey maps are a visual story about how people interact with your brand. They help companies gain a deep understanding of their customers and act as a bridge between businesses and buyers.

customer journey map without customer experience measurement

According to consultancy Nielson Norman Group, one of the key indicators that a journey map will succeed is when it produces measurable results. But that same research found that 80% of experience designers don’t use metrics in their journey maps. 

Why the disconnect? Often it’s because including metrics with your customer journey map adds complexity and time to an already challenging project. In this article, I propose a three-step model through which to frame your journey map metrics. 


A three-step approach to measuring your customer journey

A common barrier to matching metrics with the customer journey map is being overwhelmed by choice. Should we measure the entire journey or individual journeys? Are these the right metrics to measure? How do we match the right metrics to the right journeys?

To approach this challenge, I recommend a three-step framework that allows you to measure the components of a customer journey and the sum of its parts:

The measurement framework:

customer experience measurement simple framework

Source: Created by author

Step 1: Measure the overall customer journey

Our first task is defining a metric to define success for the customer journey as a whole. This metric will be our ultimate measure of customer experience success.

Our guiding question is this step is, “When taken as a whole, how effective is our customer journey?”

When measuring our experience, it’s better to be journey-led rather than touchpoint-led. After surveying 27,000 consumers, McKinsey found that measuring the overall journey was a better predictor of an effective experience than measuring touchpoints.

Here's what they said: "A company’s performance on journeys is 35 percent more predictive of customer satisfaction and 32 percent more predictive of customer churn than performance on individual touchpoints."

Examples of commonly used metrics for the overall experience include the Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, and Customer Satisfaction.


1. Net Promoter Score (NPS) 

Many companies use the Net Promoter Score, or NPS, as a way to measure their overall experience. This metric tracks how likely a customer is to recommend a brand to their family and friends.

customer experience management example - nps

Source: NetPromoter Score.com

NPS measures customer loyalty and advocacy. It can give you an understanding of how the overall experience works and takes into account every piece of the journey: products, price, onboarding, retail experience, marketing, touchpoints, brand, and customer service.


2. Customer Effort Score (CES)

The Customer Effort Score, or CES, measures how much effort customers have to exert to reach their goals. Whether that’s ordering a product, getting a question answered, an issue resolved, or returning a product. 

customer experience measurement framework - ces

Source: Kayako

Customer effort has a clear relationship with customer loyalty — the higher the effort, the lower the loyalty. According to research from Gartner, 94% of customers who had low-effort experiences expressed intent to repurchase. Compare that with customers who had a high-effort experience — only 4% expressed intent to buy again. 


3. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 

The Customer Satisfaction Score, or CSAT, measures how delighted your customers are with their experience. You can use this metric for single interactions or the overall experience.

customer experience measurement framework csat

Source: Qualtrics

CSAT works better as an “in-the-moment” measure because it has a weaker relationship to long-term customer loyalty than NPS or CES. The benefit of CSAT is its flexibility. It can be broken into individual questions to focus on specific parts of the customer journey.


Which of these metrics is best at measuring the overall customer experience?

There is some debate around which of these high-level metrics (or what combination) produces the best results for brands. 

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According to the research firm Gartner, CES outperforms NPS and CSAT in predicting customer repurchase and increased spending, as seen in the chart below. Keep in mind that Gartner now owns the firm that creates the Customer Effort Score, so their findings may be biased.

customer experience measurement frameworks

Source: iScoop

On the other hand, consulting firm McKinsey had this to say about the importance of customer satisfaction (CSAT): "Maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent."

Each of these metrics has positive and negative attributes. In practice, you’ll probably need to track more than one of these metrics to get a holistic picture of how well your journey is working.


Step 2: Align metrics to the purchase journey  

The purchase journey usually includes 4–5 steps, and the metrics you use to measure each will differ. Your journey map might have more or slightly different stages, but this general framework applies to most B2C customer journeys.

The critical question to answer in this step is, “Does each phase of our journey perform its primary goal?”

Here are some key questions and measures for each of these phases: 

1. Awareness

  • Key Question: Are customers aware of our brand, products, and product features?
  • Example Metrics: Share of Voice (SOV) in the market, number of visits and users to your website

2. Consideration 

  • Key Question: When customers know they want to buy the type of product we sell, are they seeking us out?
  • Example Metrics: Organic keyword traffic (specifically around our brand or product), direct traffic to the website, retail store footfall

3. Purchase 

  • Key Question: Once customers begin the buying process, are they completing their purchases? 
  • Example Metrics: Abandoned basket rates, footfall in retail stores vs. purchases

4. Retention

  • Key Question: After customer shops with us, are they returning to shop with us again?
  • Example Metrics: Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), customer service ticket volume, return visitors, frequency of session, session length 

5. Advocacy 

  • Key Question: After our customers have shopped with us, how likely are they to recommend 
  • Example Metrics: Net promoter score (NPS) at specific points of a journey, sentiment via social listening, use of affiliate and referral codes


Step 3: Define specific touchpoint metrics

Make sure to pull control groups that both use and don’t use this touchpoint, to make sure there aren’t confounding factors at play when you measure success.

The critical question in this step is, “Do our touchpoints reduce friction and delight customers?”

Examples of physical touchpoints metrics

  • Retail store: Footfall vs. number of purchases, basket size, overall sales in retail, number of queries to staff, the salience of sign-posting 
  • Retail point of purchase communications (POP): Sales uplift of featured products, visual salience, overall sales uplift, halo effect on category sales 

Examples of digital touchpoint metrics

  • eCommerce website: Uptime, drop-off points, bounce rate, loading speed, mobile page performance, dwell time
  • Online chat support: Length of support interactions, customer satisfaction surveys post-chat, repeat purchase from customer, wait-time, customer sentiment in chat 

Specific touchpoint metrics do matter — we need to know where we’re failing to delight customers. But not all touchpoints have equal weight on overall customer satisfaction. Some touchpoints, like posters, may only need one metric to determine if they’re working. Other more critical touchpoints, like websites, may require more than one metric. 

How do we know which touchpoints are more important to overall customer satisfaction? The answer lies in a behavioral science principle known as the Peak-end Rule.


The Peak-end Rule: A behavioral science principle that can transform your customer experience

The Peak-end Rule says that people judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak and its end, not the average of every moment of the experience. And that’s true whether the experience was good or bad.

For brands, this means customers will remember their whole experience based on only two moments — the best (or worst) part of their experience, and the end.

Peak end rule

Source: Rob Voase

That’s great news because, according to science, you don’t have to give equal time, money, and attention to optimizing every touchpoint. To transform customer satisfaction, you only have to perfect two moments — the peak and end.


Remember — to give your metrics meaning, give them context

It’s important to remember that metrics can be deceiving. It’s easy to misinterpret a number when there’s no context or customer feedback. For example, dwell time on a website is commonly misunderstood.

You might initially believe that dwell time is good. After all, customers are enjoying their experience so much they want to prolong it. But they might be dwelling because they don’t understand what to do next, which would result in a bad overall experience.

Be sure to layer qualitative research, including observational studies, onto quantitative data to understand the “why” behind the “what.”

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If you're interested in reading more about creating customer journey maps (and supercharging them with psychology and behavioral science), check out these articles: 

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The Psychological Failure of JC Penny https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/11/24/the-psychological-failure-of-jc-penny/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-psychological-failure-of-jc-penny Thu, 24 Nov 2022 13:28:36 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/?p=11797 Founded in 1902 by James Cash Penny, JC Penny was once the biggest retailer in the United States and the gold standard of American retail.For nearly a hundred years, every town seemed to have a JC Penny. Almost everything people needed could be found on its shelves (or in its famous catalog). JC Penny wasn’t […]

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Founded in 1902 by James Cash Penny, JC Penny was once the biggest retailer in the United States and the gold standard of American retail.

For nearly a hundred years, every town seemed to have a JC Penny. Almost everything people needed could be found on its shelves (or in its famous catalog).

JC Penny wasn’t just big, it was an innovator. It paved the way for modern brand partnerships when they worked with legendary fashion designer Halston to create a more accessible version of his upscale brand. Sam Walton was inspired to found Walmart after working at JC Penny in the 1940s.

But by 2011 they were in serious trouble.

Hit hard by a few recessions, Penny’s was run down and worn out. They needed a miracle. And their board did something surprising. They hired Ron Johnson to lead the company. He was a first-time CEO and a retail superstar, after running retail for Apple and Target.

On the surface it was a bold, interesting move. Unfortunately it turned out to be a fatal mistake.

The Big Rebrand

Ron Johnson didn’t waste any time. First, he rebranded JC Penny, starting with its logo and name:

JC Penny became JCP, with a stylish and Apple-like logo. Johnson then refreshed the look and feel of JCP’s stores to try and attract younger shoppers. He replaced JC Penny’s well known store brands with 100 smaller boutiques, partnering with brands like Sephora.

And on the surface this might’ve made sense, but Ron Johnson missed something important about the psychology of JC Penny’s most loyal customers.

The people that loved Penny’s were lower middle class women, basically moms, who wanted to snag a deal on clothes and homewares.

By creating a retail experience that looked, sounded, and felt different, JCP’s core customers were alienated. The psychology behind this is something called the Self-Reference Effect.

It says that people resonate with experiences that reflect how they see themselves. And if you don’t think of a store as “a place where people like me” shop, you don’t want to go in.

So after millions of dollars worth of renovations, their core customers didn’t think of themselves as JCP customers any more. And younger customers didn’t like the new JCP because it still had the reputation of being the uncool place your grandma shopped to find a bargain.

(Price) Perception is Reality

JCPenny was a discount destination. Their customers were bargain hunters. Knowing that they might miss out on a sale gave customers a reason to visit the store on a regular basis.

But Johnson thought sales killed brands, because it made them seem cheap.

So he got rid of all the discounts and introduced what he called “Fair and Square” pricing. It did away with sale prices and instead only had three types of prices in the store:

  • Everyday Prices: Prices that never changed
  • Month-Long Values: These were theme sales for certain times of the year like back-to-school clothes going on sale in August
  • Best Prices: Basically another phrase for clearance items

In theory, the simplicity of this is beautiful. But Johnson overlooked the power of price perception.

Pricing is a psychological game — it’s all about how customers feel when they see a price or a sale. And Penny’s customers really wanted to feel like they had saved money, even if they hadn’t. Markdowns did that because of a psychological principle called Anchoring.

Anchoring says that our decisions are influenced by the first information we see. Our brains grab on to this information without being consciously aware that we’re doing it.

In other words, when we see a blouse that was $60 and is marked down to $15, we feel like we’re getting a deal — even if we’re not. And feeling like they got a deal was more important to JCPenny’s customers than actually getting a deal.

The Psychological Power of “99”

One other small but really important thing Fair and Square pricing did was to take the 99 off the end of every price.

So instead of a sweater that cost 15.99, now it cost 15.00. That might seem like a tiny thing, but studies show prices that end in odd numbers, like 99 are more appealing.

It’s down to a psychological pricing strategy called Odd-even pricing

Odd-even pricing has been proven to increase demand for many types of products, because it makes you feel like you’re getting a deal.

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I'll also send you my eBook "5 Psychology Principles That Can Perfect Your Experience."


When Your Hot Hand Finally Cools: The Bottom Line

Ron Johnson based most of his JCP strategy on on what had worked at Apple. He might have been a superstar at Apple, but he was unwilling to acknowledge that JCPenny and Apple were two very different companies with different needs.

Basically Ron Johnson fell victim to a thinking trap called the Hot Hand Fallacy. It says people think someone is on a hot streak based on their past performance.

The Hot Hand Fallacy happens a lot in sports. Let’s say Lebron James starts hitting three pointers over and over. All the sudden everyone thinks he’s on a hot streak — he can’t miss. But actually making one three pointer doesn’t make you more or less likely to hit the next one.

Ron Johnson’s hot streak was pretty good — Target and Apple are cult brands and he undeniably did a great job with their stores. But a few successes doesn’t mean you’re more likely to keep winning. You have to test and try new things before you commit.

But when people asked why he never tested his ideas, Ron Johnson just said, “We never tested at Apple.”

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How Psychology Saved Apple
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How Coca-Cola Built the World’s Most Memorable Brand https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/11/17/how-coca-cola-built-the-worlds-most-memorable-brand/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-coca-cola-built-the-worlds-most-memorable-brand Thu, 17 Nov 2022 13:45:45 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/?p=11764 If you’re a marketer, you’re in the memory-making business.(Whether you realize it or not.)Because even the most brilliant brands, products, apps, and campaigns will fail if they’re forgettable.Brilliant, but ForgettableDo you remember the last time you bought a new product? Imagine you’ve snagged a face serum after it went viral on TikTok. The serum promised fantastic […]

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If you’re a marketer, you’re in the memory-making business.

(Whether you realize it or not.)

Because even the most brilliant brands, products, apps, and campaigns will fail if they’re forgettable.


Brilliant, but Forgettable

Do you remember the last time you bought a new product? Imagine you’ve snagged a face serum after it went viral on TikTok. 

The serum promised fantastic results, but only if you used it every night. You were really excited to see your skin transform, so you used the serum every night… for a few days.

Then your old skincare habits took over. You stashed the fancy serum in the back of your bathroom cabinet and forgot all about it. 

Turns out that the number one reason new products fail in the long run is that people just forget to use them. 

We don’t try these products and hate them, and we have every intention of continuing to use them. We just… forget. 

So how can marketing and experience design create memories that help your brand grow, sell more products, and get people to use them?

Here’s what behavioral science, psychology, and neuromarketing suggest. 


How a Brand C.R.E.A.T.E.S. Memories

If you want to be unforgettable, follow these seven principles: 

C: Consistency

R: Repetition

E: Emotion

A: Attention 

T: Time & Frequency

E: Experience

S: Storytelling


1. Consistency

If you want someone to remember your brand, don’t change the logo, the packaging, the brand colors, or even the spokesperson for a while. 

And by “a while” I mean years.

Sound extreme? Here’s how one of the world’s most successful brands used consistency to make itself memorable:


How Coca-Cola Applies Consistency 

Coca-Cola is one of the most consistent brands in history — its logo and bottle have barely changed in 100+ years. 

That’s why it’s been the world’s best-known brand for nearly as long. According to an internal study done in the 1980s, “Coke” is the second most understood word in the world after “okay.”

When you keep these elements, called brand assets, consistent for years they start to work a groove into peoples’ brains. Customers can’t help but remember your brand when they’ve seen the same logo millions of times. And the better your brand is remembered, the more likely people are to buy it.

The better your brand is remembered, the more likely people will be to buy it when they’re ready.

Learn how the world's biggest brands apply psychology - and you can too. 

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2. Repetition

If you want people to remember your brand and what it sells, you can’t just tell them once.

You can’t tell them twice.

You have to tell them thousands of times.

Consistency and repetition go hand-in-hand. When you show someone the same logo thousands of times over the span of 20 years, it’s easy to remember. But if you show a customer 10 different logos in 20 years, it’s nearly impossible to create memories, because to the customer, the brand is always changing. 

It’s why brands like Coca-Cola spend more than $4B a year on advertising that puts those brand assets on display (without talking about price or product features). The more you want someone to remember something, the more you have to repeat it.


How Coca-Cola Applies Repetition

One of the best examples of repetition in Coke’s advertising are its “Holidays are Coming” ads, which first ran in 1995. 

The original “Holidays are Coming” Coke ad featuring the “Always the Real Thing” jingle: 

The updated “Holidays are Coming” ad (with a reworked song):

Now people wait for these ads to feel that the holiday season has begun — but you can bet they wouldn’t if Coca-Cola had only run the ads for one or two years.

3. Emotion

Want people to remember your brand and its products? Make them emotional. Studies tell us that emotion is like superglue — it makes information stickier and more likely to be remembered.

Deloitte Digital even found that these positive emotional experiences drive business results:

  • 92% of customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand with which they have a positive emotional connection.
  • 88% of customers are more likely to spend more with brands about which they feel positively.
  • 91% of customers are willing to advocate for businesses with which they associate positive emotions.

How Coca-Cola Applies Emotion

Coca-Cola, famously, “owns happiness.” It’s spent billions of dollars associating the brand with the feeling of being happy. Its taglines have traded on happiness, emotions, and “feelings” for years:

  • 1979: Have a Coke and Smile.
  • 1989: Can’t Beat the Feeling.
  • 2001: Life Tastes Good.
  • 2009: Open Happiness.
  • 2011: Life Begins Here.
  • 2016: Taste the Feeling.

Cola-Cola doesn’t just talk “happy.” Its ads show happiness, too:

Many Coke ads feature smiling people enjoying Coca-Cola products while doing something that makes them happy: on a date, dancing, or spending a day on the beach.

But they don’t just talk and show happiness. Coca-Cola wants people to experience happiness too — through its experiential marketing like the world’s first vending machine that exchanged hugs for bottles of Coke.

4. Attention

Marketing can’t create memories if everyone ignores your marketing, right? So grabbing attention is a key part of creating memories. And while emotions and storytelling can capture peoples’ attention, making sure our messages are salient and simple is critical as well.

Salience Bias describes our attraction to things that are “easy” for our eyes to notice. And thankfully we have tools that can help us figure out if a message is salient (see below for examples of salience analysis).


How Coca-Cola Grabs Our Attention

Coke’s brand colors — red and white — are attention-grabbing due to their high contrast and brightness. Display those colors against busy backgrounds, like London’s Piccadilly Circus or Times Square in New York, and you can spot them a mile away.

As you can see from the salience analysis below, our eyes can’t help but be drawn to Coke’s attention-grabbing ads, even in the middle of the most crowded spot in New York City.

Note: The red squares with numbers on the grid indicate the most attention-grabbing areas of this image.

But the brand’s salience isn’t just down to its colors. The simplicity of Coca-Cola’s marketing also makes it stand out. They aren’t trying to say too much in any one ad, and they never water them down with clutter that distracts customers.

5. Time & Frequency

Even if you’re repeating a consistent message, you still need to give these messages time to sink in. Does that mean you should invest all your money in playing the same TV commercial on repeat?

No. In fact, it’s much more effective to leave some time for customers to digest what they’ve seen (before seeing it again).

The Spacing Effect says a brand is more memorable when it’s seen multiple times, but those views are spread out over time — not one right after the other. A steady drip approach is more effective than a constant barrage of ads or short bursts of activity.


How Coca-Cola Leverages Time & Frequency

Coca-Cola’s large media budget means it can afford to buy lots of marketing across different channels such as TV, sports sponsorships, social media, websites, billboards, and in-store advertising.

The more times a Coke ad is featured in different contexts, the higher the chance people will be exposed to the brand. And the longer the brand advertises in many different contexts, countries, and channels, the more memorable it becomes.

But deep memories of and associations with the brand are only created if customers are exposed to these ads for years. So like, Coca-Cola, plan for consistent marketing year-round — not short bursts of activity.


6. Experience

If want to teach someone a new concept, “learning by doing” — also called Experiential Learning — is the most effective method. If you want your child to learn addition, for example, having them add physical blocks together instead of abstract numbers can help them better understand the concept.

When we physically experience something, it increases the chances that we’ll absorb and remember the concept.

Experiences are sticky — they become memories much more easily than random information. So it makes sense that customer experiences and experiential marketing are so important to brands like Coca-Cola.


How Coca-Cola Applies Experience

Coca-Cola wants to drive the feeling of happiness with its experiential marketing, and it makes its products and brand assets the stars of the show.

For example, the brand installed a “Happiness Machine” in the middle of a college campus. It dispensed free Cokes, flowers, a pizza, and even a huge submarine sandwich for everyone to share.

In 2014, the brand even tried to bring together India and Pakistan through its use of a “small world” vending machine. They were installed in two cities, Lahore in Pakistan and New Delhi in India.

Coca-Cola wanted people in the two cities, who had experienced decades of political tension, to share a moment of understanding over a free bottle of Coke.

7. Storytelling

Narrative Bias says that people make sense of the world through stories. Our brains have to process a lot of information, so we pay more attention to (and better remember) narratives instead of random information.

That’s why it’s easier to remember the plot of Hamilton than it is to memorize the Constitutional Amendments — our brains remember the story of the musical, but have a harder time stringing together non-narrative information.


How Coca-Cola Uses Storytelling

Coca-Cola thinks carefully about the stories it tells in its marketing. It knows the power that stories have to create memories, so it wants to make sure that the brand and its products feature prominently in these stories. Kate Santore, Director at Coca-Cola, described storytelling at Coca-Cola this way:

“At Coca-Cola, we want to create Coca-Cola stories and not stories by Coca-Cola.

That holds true when our product is a character in the story with a credible role to play.

There are four typical archetypes that we look to: object of desire, embodiment of an attitude, social connector, and functional offering or benefit.”

“Archetype” is just a fancy word for templates or frameworks, and these describe the role that Coke products need to play in its marketing. For example, in the commercial below Coke acts as a “social connector” by bringing together a lifeguard and a swimmer:


Creating Memories: The Bottom Line

Creating memories is a proven way to create value, find customers, and grow market share. It’s down to a marketing principle called mental availability.

It was coined by Professor Byron Sharp, a marketing researcher at the Ehrenberg-Bass institute in Australia. His theory is that to grow your brand, you need two things:

  • Mental availability: Does this brand or product spring to mind when it’s time to buy? Do people recognize it? Do they notice it on the shelf?
  • Physical availability: Can I get or find this product easily when I’m in the mood to buy it?

That’s why creating memories is so important for every customer experience. It’s not just about being remembered — it’s about being sought out, recognized, and top of mind when it’s time to buy.

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How Red Bull Uses Psychology to Sell 15k Cans a Minute https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/11/07/red-bull-psychology/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=red-bull-psychology Mon, 07 Nov 2022 17:45:49 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/?p=11678 Since Red Bull launched in 1987, it’s sold more than 100 billion cans. Every year, it sells about 15,000 cans every single minute (that’s about 8 billion a year). Its logo is recognized around the world, not only on its cans but also on its Formula 1 team cars. But it wasn’t always so successful. In 1982, […]

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Since Red Bull launched in 1987, it’s sold more than 100 billion cans. Every year, it sells about 15,000 cans every single minute (that’s about 8 billion a year). Its logo is recognized around the world, not only on its cans but also on its Formula 1 team cars. 

But it wasn’t always so successful. 

In 1982, an Austrian entrepreneur named Dietrich Mateschit had flown to Thailand for a business trip. He was suffering from the frequent flyer’s curse — jetlag — but he needed to bounce back for an important meeting. 

On a whim, he tried a local drink, called Krating Daeng.

His jetlag disappeared almost instantly. 

Mateschit knew if he could adapt this product for the Western market, he would have a hit on his hands.

One small hurdle: the category was completely new. There was no such thing as an “energy drink” in the US or Europe (despite their popularity in East Asia).

When he entered the Western market, Dietrich had two things:

  • A tagline: Red Bull gives you wings
  • Some disappointing customer research that said his potential customers hated the product

But he was determined that the brand would succeed. 


Extreme Emotions = Extreme Growth

Red Bull had a tiny marketing budget, so they had to get creative. 

First, they hired college students to work as Red Bull ambassadors on campuses. 

Red Bull student amabassadors

Source: Jobs.Redbull.com

This worked, to an extent. But didn’t reach the scale Mateschitz knew the brand was capable of.

For Red Bull to become as big as he knew it could be, he had to take on two of the world’s most powerful brands — Coca-Cola and Pepsi. 

Both famous for their sports marketing. 

But Red Bull couldn’t afford to sponsor a Premier League football team, an NFL franchise, or the Olympics. So they started reaching out to young and hungry “extreme athletes” who were often overlooked by big brands and their big budgets. 

Dietrich was convinced this strategy would work because he knew (consciously or not) three things about customer psychology: 

  1. Getting attention for a brand was much easier when they were a part of something attention-grabbing (like extreme sports). 
  2. The more emotional a moment is, the more likely we are to remember it. 
  3. When a brand grabs our attention AND our emotions, it lodges itself in our memories. And when a brand is stuck in your brain, you’re much more likely to buy it.

Mateschitz knew that the emotions we experience watching death-defying sports could cement Red Bull into our brains. And this insight into memory and human behavior created a $10B brand.

Learn how the world's biggest brands apply psychology - and you can too. 

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Consistency Build Memories and Memories Build Brands.

There are tree things have remained constant in Red Bull’s marketing: 

  • Its iconic blue and white can
  • Its mass-market advertising style
  • Its logo

The Can

Since Red Bull launched in 1987, its can design hasn’t changed. Sure, the brand has added some new products and even a light blue version of the can for its sugar-free product but its primary product’s packaging has remained consistent.

The Advertising

If I showed someone the commercial below — do you think they could guess which brand it was from?

The answer is most likely a yes. 

But why? It’s not just because Red Bull’s visual advertising style is different than any other brand’s. It’s because their distinctive style of TV ads has been running for almost 30 years. 

If you’d only seen this ad once, in 1997, you probably wouldn’t connect this unique style with Red Bull. But it’s the brand’s consistency and repetition that gets us to recognize this as a Red Bull commercial from the very first frame.


The Logo

Although Krating Daeng’s logo was adapted for the Red Bull product in 1987, it didn’t change much. And once it was created in 1987, the logo didn’t change at all. 


That consistency (and the discipline to keep the logo unchanged) helped build what would eventually become Austria’s most valuable brand, and one of the world’s most recognized companies.


The Bottom Line

If you want your brand to stick in people’s minds like Red Bull, start by asking yourself:

What emotions do people feel in association with our brand? Like Red Bull, you might choose excitement or adrenaline. Like Coca-Cola, you might choose happiness. Like Disney, you might choose the magic of childhood.

How consistently are we using our brand images and words during these emotional moments? Red Bull wouldn’t have been as successful building its brand if it had redesigned its logo or can every five years. It takes a long time to get people to remember a brand — and it’s 100x harder if the message, logo, or product is constantly changing.

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How Psychology Saved Apple
The post How Red Bull Uses Psychology to Sell 15k Cans a Minute appeared first on Choice Hacking.]]>
The Most Common UX Mistake That Totally Kills Engagement https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/11/06/ux-mistakes-observation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ux-mistakes-observation Sun, 06 Nov 2022 18:13:32 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/?p=11657 A TikTok came across my FYP (For You Page) recently that illustrated one of my favorite sayings about behavioral science-powered customer experience:Watch what customers do, not what they say they do.You can see from the gif of the full video that this user, whose iPhone has asked him to “position Apple Watch in frame,” is […]

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A TikTok came across my FYP (For You Page) recently that illustrated one of my favorite sayings about behavioral science-powered customer experience:

Watch what customers do, not what they say they do.

You can see from the gif of the full video that this user, whose iPhone has asked him to “position Apple Watch in frame,” is putting the watch face down in the prompted rectangle.

What the user is supposed to be doing is lifting up his phone and using the rear camera to scan the Apple Watch.

The on-screen rectangle is a guide to how far out you should hold the phone. But that’s not how this user understood the experience.

This TikTok shows us how important user testing is, but it also shows how important it is to observe customers rather than relying on interviews, focus groups, verbatim, and other forms of asking people what they do or what they WILL do in the future.


Why Observe Instead of Asking?

Two reasons make observation a better tool than simply interviewing users: 

  • Behavioral Science says that people often aren’t aware of what’s really motivating them, and when asked will run their reasons through internal filters that can distort the truth.
  • We know from experience as marketers and customer experience designers, that people don’t always do what we intend for them to do. We observe to discover what users are really doing — not what they’re reporting they’re doing.

If you’re new to customer (or user) observation and want to try it out for yourself, keep a few things in mind:

  • Observe without judgment.
  • Don’t fall into the “small numbers” trap — the customers you observe are a small sample of your total users.
  • Wait to define insights until you have enough objective information.

Learn how the world's biggest brands apply psychology - and you can too. 

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AEIOU: A Simple User Research Tool

Developed by ethnographic researchers, the AEIOU framework gives us a framework to structure observations “in the field.” It’s often used by UX researchers (and other types of qualitative researchers) to watch what people are doing and make sense of it.

Each letter stands for one of five related elements:

A: Activities

These are the actions people take toward the goals they want to accomplish. For example, if you want to order a product on Amazon, one activity might be searching the site. If you’re trying to order a meal at a fast food restaurant, an activity might be using a digital kiosk to find your favorite burger.

E: Environments

These are the contexts in which an activity is taking places. For example, if you’re ordering an item on Amazon on your phone you might be sitting on your couch at the end of a long day, feeling too tired to run to the store. If you’re ordering a meal in a fast food drive thru, you might be juggling requests from your kids in the backseat while sitting in a long line waiting to order.

I: Interactions

These are the routines and exchanges between your users/customers and the environment. For example, if you’re calling to order a pizza you’re interacting with the person who picks up the phone. If you use a deliver app like Uber Eats to order a pizza, you’re interacting with the app.

O: Objects

These are key elements of environments. For example, a brochure you download from a website before booking a vacation or a poster for a new sandwich at a chain restaurant.

U: Users

These are the people who are being observed.


A Free Worksheet to Try Out AEIOU for Yourself

Want to try this simple exercise? I’ve put together a free quick-start AEIOU worksheet. This will help you easily observe, document, and develop insights from existing customer behaviors.

You can download it here for free.

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How Psychology Saved Apple
The post The Most Common UX Mistake That Totally Kills Engagement appeared first on Choice Hacking.]]>
How Psychology Saved Apple https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/10/27/how-psychology-saved-apple/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-psychology-saved-apple Thu, 27 Oct 2022 13:10:44 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/?p=11580 In 1997, Apple was 90 days from bankruptcy.But how Steve Jobs saved the company proved he was a master of customer psychology.Jobs returned as the head of Apple in 1997, 12 years after getting kicked out by his own board of directors and handpicked CEO John Scully.He’d kept himself busy, leading companies like Pixar and […]

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In 1997, Apple was 90 days from bankruptcy.

But how Steve Jobs saved the company proved he was a master of customer psychology.

Jobs returned as the head of Apple in 1997, 12 years after getting kicked out by his own board of directors and handpicked CEO John Scully.

He’d kept himself busy, leading companies like Pixar and NeXT, but he KNEW he had to get back to Apple.

And when he finally did, the first thing on his agenda was to meet the product team to review what Apple was selling.

It was a mess — they were making too many products for too many people.

Apple was even producing more than a dozen different versions of the Macintosh computer to satisfy retailer demands.

That many products left customers totally confused… so they just didn’t buy anything.

After weeks of sitting through meeting after meeting, Jobs finally shouted,
“Stop! This is crazy!”

He walked to a whiteboard and drew up a 2x2 square.

Jobs put one product in each box and killed the rest.

Created by the author

Jobs renewed Apple’s focus by simplifying its approach.

He knew that a great customer experience meant saying “no” much more than it meant saying “yes.”

So while in September 1997, Apple had lost over a billion dollars, only one year later they were turning a profit of $309 million.

The Psychological Power of Simplicity

The Simplicity Theory says that people prefer simple experiences and are more likely to choose marketing and products that minimize cognitive load (a fancy term for how much information we’re trying to keep in our brains at one time).

The Simplicity Theory says that people are more likely to do and buy things that don’t make them think too hard.

Simple experiences have proven business impact. The Simplicity Index, created by Siegel+Gale, is a yearly ranking of brands with the least complicated experiences. The consultancy’s research has drawn some compelling conclusions about the impact of distilled experiences:

  • Simplicity drives love: 64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because of a simple experience.
  • Simplicity drives growth: Since 2009, a stock portfolio made up of the simplest publicly traded brands (as defined by Siegel+Gale) has outperformed the market by 686%.
  • Simplicity drives sales: 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for uncomplicated experiences.

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How Simplicity Can Make You Impossible to Ignore

Let’s use a visual example of how simplicity can make for better marketing and better understanding. In this example of a poster from McDonald’s Australia, the simplicity of the message is what makes it effective.

We can use a form of attention analysis — called salience analysis — to see what customers are paying the most attention to (red is noticed, blue is ignored): 

The most eye-catching images are the “wi-fry” signal and the McDonald’s logo — the reason they’re so successful is because they’re surrounded by negative space.

It’s the simplicity of this creative that makes it work so well — our eyes naturally land on the images because we’re not distracted by extra information.

To see what complexity does to attention and understanding, let’s add a few extra messages added (by me) to this poster: 

You can see how there are lots more salient messages, but now the logo and the wi-fry signal aren’t as easily noticed. Most people don’t take the time to read copy anyway, so the entire poster becomes a bit of a waste.

While the simple creative attracted our gaze like a magnet, complexity pulled our attention in too many directions.


The Bottom Line: How Simplicity Saved Apple

When Steve Jobs culled Apple’s product line, it didn’t just make it easier for the product team to focus. It also supercharged their marketing budget (by having fewer messages to try and land), distilled their thinking (by giving them fewer problems to solve), and reduced costs and overhead (with fewer products and variations to produce). 

With fewer things to try and sell, more potent messages were landing with customers — they could better understand the brand promise, what products were available, and make an easier decision between Apple and its competitors. 

If you want to simplify your marketing or customer experience, start by asking yourself:

  • Where are customers getting frustrated in our experience? This might be indicated by increased dwell time, drop-off, or research that indicates frustration or anger. Look for opportunities to simplify information, messages, and interactions at this moment.
  • If we look at our competitors’ experiences and compare them to ours, who has the simplest experience? Is this reflected in our sales or market share?
  • Are there ways to move a process from the “main stage” to “back stage?” In other words, could employees, digital platforms, or even machine learning simplify the experience for customers by taking things off their plate?
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How Psychology Saved Apple
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How to measure creative effectiveness, with science (not guesswork) https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/10/12/creative-effectiveness-salience/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=creative-effectiveness-salience Wed, 12 Oct 2022 12:06:38 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/10/12/clone-of-3-ways-to-apply-behavioral-science-to-customer-journey-maps/ Have you ever spent weeks or months toiling over a marketing campaign, just to see it fall flat with customers when it goes live?“What went wrong?” your team asks themselves, disheartened (and maybe a little tipsy at the office Happy Hour).You might’ve missed measuring how attention-grabbing your marketing would be in the real world, and […]

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Have you ever spent weeks or months toiling over a marketing campaign, just to see it fall flat with customers when it goes live?

“What went wrong?” your team asks themselves, disheartened (and maybe a little tipsy at the office Happy Hour).

You might’ve missed measuring how attention-grabbing your marketing would be in the real world, and figuring out if customers even noticed your message or visuals.

What makes a piece of marketing or a customer experience attention-grabbing?

It’s down to a psychological principle called Salience.


What is Salience?

Salience describes how prominent or visually striking something is. If an element seems to jump out from its environment, it’s salient. If it blends into the background and takes a while to find, it’s not.

Figuring out if a piece of marketing is salient is really about answering these two questions:

  1. Do people notice our creative?
  2. Are they noticing the right things?


How Can We Test for Salience?

Salience measurement tools usually take the form of some kind of algorithm that lays a heatmap across an image, like this:

Source: DragonflyAI Analysis

There are lots of salience measurement platforms out there. The one I trust the most is called DragonflyAI (a highly-regarded tool used by clients like Coca-Cola and Microsoft).

I use with my Choice Hacking customer experience clients, in lots of different ways. Here are a few:

  • Measure whether a piece of creative is working hard enough to grab attention, or if it needs to be tweaked. Customer attention is a rare commodity, but by using an agile, science-based tool, we can increase the odds that a piece of creative gets noticed (while the campaign is still in development).
  • Ensure that during key moments in a customer journey, users notice and can find the “right” things. Whether that’s a CTA or a key piece of information, using an objective tool to look through your customers’ eyes can help you figure out if it’s attention-grabbing.
  • Diagnose why creative might be underperforming. Often it’s good creative, but it’s just not noticeable. Or the right messages and images are there, but they’re not easy to find.
  • Make the case for simpler creative, or why certain creative elements need to be emphasized through color, luminosity, placement, or size. Most creatives love this example because their instincts are usually watered down by clients. Salience analysis helps make a data-driven case as to why simpler, more focused creative is more effective.
  • Help clients who are more data and science-driven understand what makes “good creative.” Obviously, educating clients about what is “good creative” is more than understanding if the creative is salient. A salience measurement tool won’t test for strong concepts or compelling copywriting. But it will help more analytical clients understand if the right information is being seen.
  • Help clients make creative choices based on science, not opinion. If your boss says they like the blue option better than the red, and the red was your choice, a salience tool can give unbiased feedback. That means fewer rounds of review and fewer opinions from people outside (and inside) the marketing department.
  • Help sell-in creative to clients and their internal stakeholders. Decision-making inside of big companies is often slow, involves too many people, and often involves folks who have opinions about marketing without any skills (legal, compliance, CEOs, etc.). Using a data-based tool like DragonflyAI can help you make an objective case about why a piece of creative works.

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Wait, so is this eye-tracking or…?

While the visuals produced by salience tools can look like what eye-tracking tools create, they measure salience - not eye movement. Many clients also use eye-tracking for digital experiences, and each of these measurements can be helpful in different ways.


3 Examples of How Salience Analysis Can Help You

Below I’ve shared three different ways I use salience analysis, but these are by no means the only use cases.

You can measure salience in videos as well as still images, and the applications for creative effectiveness, customer experience, information architecture, and user experience design are nearly limitless.

  1. Craft stronger creative, faster.

In this example of a poster from Mcdonald's Australia, the simplicity of the creative makes it more effective.

The original creative:

The salience analysis (via DragonflyAI):

The most salient spots in this creative are the “wi-fry” signal and the McDonald’s logo — but part of the reason they’re so successful is because they’re surrounded by negative space. Our eyes naturally land on the images because we’re not distracted by extra information.

Now in my experience, most clients would see this poster and think it’s a too simple — a wasted opportunity for copy or additional messaging. Without an emphasis on salience the creative might end up looking something like this (created by me):

You can see how there’s lots more salient stuff, but now the logo and the wi-fry signal aren’t as salient. Most people don’t take the time to read copy anyway, so the entire poster becomes a bit of a waste.

2. Create a simpler, easier customer experience.

In this example from Walmart, you can see that their pickup tower (an automated service where customers can collect their online orders in-store) is incredibly salient.

The original experience:

The salience analysis (via DragonflyAI):

In this case, the sheer size of the pickup tower helps make it salient, but interestingly the most salient bit is actually the screen that says “pickup” — a win-win that makes this customer experience simpler and easier for guests.

3. Compare your work against competitors.

In these OOH examples from Coors Light and Budweiser, we can begin to see what’s working (or not working) for each brand. We can use this analysis to spot strategic opportunities to beat out the competition.

The original in-situ creative:

The salience analysis (via DragonflyAI):

On both of these billboards, the copy is doing most of the work. But we should ask ourselves — is that creative strategy appropriate for a billboard that people have fractions of a second to read?

If you were the brand manager for Coors, you might see this as an opportunity for you to stand out. Removing the copy would potentially make your bottle most noticeable which would result in an ad that’s more brand-building than Budweiser’s.


Salient Creative: The Bottom Line

There’s no doubt that salience makes for stronger creative and customer experiences, and in my career I’ve seen millions of dollars in return from strategies that use salience as a key pillar.

That’s why at Choice Hacking, we use behavioral science, psychology, and AI salience tools to ensure our clients’ customer experiences are attention-grabbing, effective, and easy for customers to understand (without sacrificing creativity).


Want to learn how Choice Hacking can help you craft strong customer experiences and marketing creative?

Contact Jen Clinehens, MD for a free 15-minute phone consultation or join our free newsletter here.

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How Psychology Saved Apple
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3 Ways to Apply Behavioral Science to Customer Journey Maps https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/08/26/behavioral-science-journey-maps/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=behavioral-science-journey-maps Fri, 26 Aug 2022 13:24:14 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/08/26/clone-of-unskilled-and-unaware-what-is-the-dunning-kruger-effect/ One of the biggest ways learning about behavioral science impacted my work as a customer experience strategist was realizing that sometimes talking to customers can do more harm than good.Why? When customers are asked why they did something or if they would do something, their responses are clouded with all sorts of cognitive biases that get […]

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One of the biggest ways learning about behavioral science impacted my work as a customer experience strategist was realizing that sometimes talking to customers can do more harm than good.

Why? 

  • When customers are asked why they did something or if they would do something, their responses are clouded with all sorts of cognitive biases that get in the way of the truth. 
  • The context of a customer interview can change its outcome, like feeling pressure to answer questions a certain way from the other members of a focus group, or even the interviewer themselves. 
  • Since most decisions are made subconsciously, people don’t actually know the real reasons behind why they did what they did — but when pressured to come up with an answer, they’ll lie (not purposefully, they just aren’t consciouly aware of the truth). 

Does that mean qualitative research should be thrown out? No, but it means we can’t only rely on qual to make business decisions — we have to dig deeper.

Luckily there’s a proven tool that can help us get some clarity — and by adding a behavioral science twist, we can make it 10x more powerful. 


Adding a Behavioral Science Twist to Customer Journey Maps

If you’re not familiar with what customer journey maps are, they’re basically visual stories about how people interact with your brand or experience. They help teams gain a deep understanding of their customers and act as a bridge between businesses and buyers.

In a single illustration, the journey map aims to capture the entire customer experience. No small task.

Are journey maps perfect? No, they’re models. And as the saying goes, all models are wrong but some are useful. 

All models are wrong, but some are useful. 

Sometimes a good model can get even better. And that’s the case when you start layering psychology and behavioral science on journey maps. Your insight improves, and you can go deeper on why customers do what they do (and how to change it). 

It’s like adding bacon to a burger. Sure, the burger was good before but bacon just adds a little something special (apologies to the vegans): 

Homemade Dried Barbecue Bacon Jerky with Salt

Source: Adobe Stock

Here are three ways behavioral science and customer journey maps can be better together: 


1. Use the emotional journey to find moments that punch above their weight.

The Peak-end Rule says that people create memories and judgments of an experience based on only two points — the emotional peak and the ending.

But how do you figure out where those moments are, and how do you know if they’re different from one customer to the next?!

When you combine the Emotional Journey section of a map with the Peak-end Rule, you start to see its power. This approach can even help you prioritize time, effort, and budgets.

emotional journey example

Source: Created by the author


2. Support your journey map with a behavioral “swim lane.”

Swim lane is just a fancy name for a horizontal section of a journey map, like the ones shown below (to learn more about the parts of a journey map, check out my article here): 

Journey Map Example 2

Source: Created by the author

This simple addition can have huge benefits. A behavioral swim lane can help you spot barriers and potential solutions faster and more easily, because they’re in context with the rest of the journey.

You can use this swim lane in various ways, but I’ve found it’s helpful for documenting some rough ideas and combination of the following: 

  • Behavioral Barrier
  • Behavioral Objective (later to be refined into a Target Behavior)
  • Principle that can help overcome this barrier 
  • Potential Opportunities 

For example, you might populate one section of this swim lane with a version of the following: 

  • We’ve observed that customers are spending too much time browsing and not enough time buying because they’re overwhelmed by all the product options on product details page. They’re getting frustrated and leaving the site.
  • To get customers to move from browsing to buying, we need to make our product detail pages easier to scan, reduce the amount of information, and make customers feel comfortable with the amount and structure of our product detail pages. 
  • Some potential behavioral science principles we could use to solve this include Salience (to make sure people are noticing the “right” parts of the product page), Simplicity Theory (reducing the number of options and information to combat Overchoice), Chunking (to break down a page full of product features into smaller sections that are easy to scan), Picture Superiority Effect (to convey information with less text but more with pictures and make descriptions feel less overwhelming to read). 

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3. Get a holistic view of how you can go “beyond the nudge.” 

One of the reasons journey maps are so useful is that they look at all your touchpoints to give a big-picture view of what customers experience.

When you have a 10k-foot view of your experience, you see ways to use behavioral science to influence customers before they get to the point of nudging. It’s a more strategic approach, it’s more effective, and it helps behavioral science go “beyond the nudge.”

But why do we need to?

Nudges can change behavior, but nudges are tactical. 

And in traditional companies, tacticians hit a “ceiling of influence” — they aren’t invited into rooms where strategic discussions about the future of the company, so they’re limited in terms of their impact and ability to persuade. 

The more holistic the integration of behavioral science to the business, the more persuasive behavioral scientists (and people who apply behavioral science) can be. 


The Bottom Line

Consultancy NNGroup asked a group of experience professionals how journey mapping had positively impacted their customers:

  • 71% said journey maps “increased customer satisfaction.”
  • 53% said they “increased NPS (Net Promoter Score).”
  • 48% said maps resulted in “fewer customer complaints.”

The best part?

Because they’re already a proven and well-known tool, Journey Maps can be easier to sell-in to you or your client's business than a brand new behavioral science framework like COM-B (but don’t worry behavioral scientists, you can throw that one in later). 

Now just imagine how much impact they could make when behavioral science is thrown in the mix. 

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If you're interested in reading more about creating customer journey maps (and supercharging them with psychology and behavioral science), check out these articles: 

Keep learning and connect..


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Unskilled and Unaware: What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect? https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/08/20/dunning-kruger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dunning-kruger Sat, 20 Aug 2022 17:31:23 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/08/20/clone-of-how-uber-used-psychology-to-manipulate-its-drivers/ On April 19, 1995, a man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. And strangely, the robber didn’t wear a mask.A tip led police to a man named McArthur Wheeler, and when they knocked on his door, Wheeler was stunned. And he kept repeating one curious phrase:“But I wore the juice!”When the police asked him what […]

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On April 19, 1995, a man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. And strangely, the robber didn’t wear a mask.

A tip led police to a man named McArthur Wheeler, and when they knocked on his door, Wheeler was stunned. And he kept repeating one curious phrase:

“But I wore the juice!”

When the police asked him what he meant, Wheeler told the officers he had rubbed lemon juice on his face so it would be invisible to the security cameras.⁠

He wasn’t delusional. Wheeler had just made a big mistake.

You see, lemon juice can be used as invisible ink.⁠ Wheeler knew this and assumed that lemon juice could also make his face invisible to security cameras. He even tested it out by rubbing lemon juice on his face and taking an instant photo — which came out blank (probably due to user error). 

Wheeler’s story caught the eye of a professor named David Dunning, who recognized the universality of Wheeler’s mistake: that people with the fewest skills and least knowledge often overestimate their abilities.⁠

People with the fewest skills and least knowledge often overestimate their abilities.

This inspired observation became the basis of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.⁠


What Is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

Coined by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the Dunning-Kruger Effect says that people who are unskilled at a task — often because they’re new at it — are overly positive when asked to evaluate those skills.

Although inspired by McArthur Wheeler’s story, the official principle was based on a series of experiments published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dunning and Kruger concluded that people fail to recognize their own incompetence because they lack the skills needed to recognize it. Think about someone who’s never ice skated before — they take lessons for a few months and suddenly they’re an expert. But really, they don’t have practice or experience. They‘ve experienced some skating and have learned some fancy moves, but they don’t yet know what they don’t know.


Dunning-Kruger is a Type of Cognitive Bias

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a type of Cognitive Bias — a systematic error in thinking. Cognitive Biases work as mental shortcuts for making decisions, and everyone is susceptible to them, no matter their age, gender, or cultural background — they’re just a quirk of human behavior.

Our brains need to take in an incredible amount of information, but it also wants to save as much thinking energy as possible. So, it relies on generalities or rules of thumb (also called heuristics) to help it make hard decisions fast.

We rely on cognitive biases when we’re emotional, rushed to decide, or feel social pressure to make a choice. But everyday thinking and decision-making are subject to cognitive biases as well.

Source: Adobe Stock

How to Recognize the Dunning-Kruger Effect

While it can be difficult to recognize when someone is experiencing the Dunning-Kruger effect, here are a few common clues:

  • The person will not be open to criticism or help. They’ll see these as personal attacks or threats to their ego.
  • Victims of Dunning-Kruger are often very confident in their ability to do the task. Confidence isn’t usually a bad thing, but overconfidence can signal that someone “doesn’t know what they don’t know.”

You can commonly spot this effect in professional environments. You’ll notice that victims of Dunning-Kruger are difficult to work with and believe they always have killer ideas. Ambitious, competitive folks can be some of the worst offenders.

For example, imagine you work with an assistant marketing manager who comes up with an idea for a campaign. They think this idea is a winner and no one can change their mind — they might receive some expert suggestions on how to improve the campaign, but instead of thoughtfully considering these points they get offended. It’s possible that their confidence has outweighed their skills.

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3 Ways to Avoid the Dunning-Kruger Effect

There are three simple strategies you can use to help avoid the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They simply require you to open your mind to the idea that you might be falling into this thinking trap.


1. Keep Practicing and Learning

Incompetent people who overestimate their ability rarely keep practicing and learning. They already believe they have a higher level of knowledge on the subject matter, so why waste time learning more?

But when you’re always learning and practicing a skill, you’re less likely to overestimate your abilities because you‘re always improving. Instead, you’ll be more aware of your own limitations and understand how far you have to go until you’re an expert.


2. Ask for Feedback

The second strategy is to get feedback from others. It’s hard to spot areas of improvement yourself because it’s not easy to see your skills objectively.

By getting feedback from trusted experts and friends, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement without being blinded by your own ego.


3. Challenge What You Know

The third strategy is to challenge what you know. The best way to avoid the Dunning-Kruger Effect is by taking the time to challenge your own thinking and assumptions (as well as de-bias your thinking).

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The post Unskilled and Unaware: What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect? appeared first on Choice Hacking.]]>
How Uber Used Psychology to Manipulate Its Drivers https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/08/17/uber-psychology-behavioral-science-part2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uber-psychology-behavioral-science-part2 Wed, 17 Aug 2022 18:48:34 +0000 https://www.choicehacking.com/2022/08/17/clone-of-why-steve-jobs-stole-from-a-hotel-to-build-the-first-apple-store-and-you-should-too/ Available in 600 cities spread across 65 countries with more than 75 million users, Uber has become the default transport choice for many.The scale and speed of adoption have been incredible, and Uber cites its unique business model and experience as the drivers.But underlying their massive growth lies a delicate system that has to be maintained for Uber […]

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Available in 600 cities spread across 65 countries with more than 75 million users, Uber has become the default transport choice for many.

The scale and speed of adoption have been incredible, and Uber cites its unique business model and experience as the drivers.

But underlying their massive growth lies a delicate system that has to be maintained for Uber to survive: the supply of riders and drivers must be balanced.

If either one of these has too many or too few participants, then the whole system can break down. That’s why keeping drivers driving for longer is one of the most important parts of a functional Uber ecosystem.


Uber’s Challenge: Keeping Drivers on the Road

Source: Adobe Stock

If you’ve ever tried to get an Uber on New Year’s Eve you know that not enough drivers and too much demand results in eye-wateringly high prices and waits so long you might as well walk.

But there’s no magic button Uber can press to keep people driving, so it uses behavioral science to try and keep things perfectly aligned.

In 2017, the New York Times ran an expose about Uber’s attempts to keep their drivers driving for longer. They interviewed dozens of current and former Uber officials, drivers, and social scientists and came to the conclusion that Uber was using behavioral science to undermine its drivers’ well-being.

According to the article, while giving lip service to treating its drivers with more dignity and fairness, it also:

“Engaged in an extraordinary behind-the-scenes experiment in behavioral science to manipulate them in the service of its corporate growth.”

The first thing that New York Times dug up was Uber’s use of concrete financial goals to motivate its drivers to stay online. Josh Streeter, a former Uber driver in Florida showed the New York Times some of the messages he got on the company’s driver app when he tried to log off. The first message said:

“Make it to $330.”

Another message soon followed:

“You’re $10 away from making $330 in net earnings. Are you sure you want to go offline?”

Below this message, there were two choices:

  • Go offline
  • Keep driving

“Keep driving” was highlighted so people would notice and click it, but “go offline” was not. From a behavioral science perspective, there are a few things going on here.

  1. These messages play on Loss Aversion, a behavioral science principle that says people hate loss much more than they like gain, and they’re motivated to avoid loss as much as possible.
  2. The Goal Gradient Effect, which says that people are much more motivated by how much they have left to go before they hit a goal. In this case, the arbitrary $330 earning goal that Uber selected and suggested for this driver.
  3. Goal Gradient is supercharged by an effect called Income Targeting. It says when workers who can decide how long they want to work each day (and therefore how much they might earn) start their day with a financial goal in mind to motivate themselves.

An internal Uber study even found that many new drivers practice an “extreme form of income targeting.” But as drivers got more experience on the platform, they found that income targeting behavior was inefficient because they’d have to work extremely long shifts on slow days and then get off early when they were busy.

In other words, by creating these arbitrary income goals to keep drivers driving, Uber was asking them to do something that experience would show was not actually in their best interest.

Source: Adobe Stock

Uber’s Gamification of Driving

Because Uber’s drivers tend to function as lone wolves — with no office in which to bump into colleagues and chat — their entire connection to the company comes in the form of the Uber driver app.

In its pursuit of keeping drivers engaged as long as possible, the company used common gamification elements like badging to motivate and reward its drivers.

That sounds fine until you begin to consider the bigger picture.

In most markets, Uber drivers are independent contractors who have to pay for fuel, insurance, car maintenance, and other associated costs.

Drivers can very easily lose money working with Uber.

Scott Weber, an Uber and Lyft driver, told the New York Times that he drove full time and in the year prior to his interview reported less than $20,000 in income before expenses.

He told the paper:

“I was a business that had a loss. I’m using payday loans.”

These types of gig economy workers don’t have unions to advocate on their behalf, and they can go weeks, months, or even forever before comparing their reality to other drivers.

So in this context, keeping people driving — which is not always in their financial interest — and rewarding them with digital badges instead of money, in a closed context where they don’t have many ways to increase or even understand their income, isn’t helping to improve drivers’ welfare and earning potential.


Did Uber’s Use of Behavioral Science Cross the Line?

To some of you, Uber’s nudging might seem like fair play. Sure, Uber was applying behavioral science, and they never forced anyone to drive for them. But because in all markets at the time, Uber’s drivers were considered contractors, none of these behavioral strategies were limited by employment laws.

According to the company, its new CEO — who was brought into the company in 2017 to replace the controversial Travis Kalanick — has helped Uber undergo a radical culture change to become more ethical and accountable for decisions like these.

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The Bottom Line: How to Avoid Uber’s Missteps

Regardless of its current culture or approach to applying behavioral strategies, their mistakes have lessons to teach everyone who wants to apply behavioral science to businesses.

  • It can be easy to manipulate people with these effects if we’re not consciously paying attention to the behaviors that they’re driving. Most people aren’t savvy about behavioral nudges, they don’t even know what a nudge is, so expecting them to fight against a system that’s set up to maximize Uber’s corporate income and not drivers’ income isn’t realistic.
  • Consider the context of these nudges and not just how they drive the target behaviors. In this case, drivers were operating without any bargaining power, leverage, or even a realistic understanding of their financial upside. Ask yourself if your nudges are making life better for these folks or if you’re helping to misdirect from bigger issues — just like the digital badging helped distract from the financial reality of driving for Uber.
  • Spend some time thinking about where your ethical lines are drawn. For example, you might not want work with certain types of companies like alcohol, gambling, or tobacco firms. Think about where your moral lines are drawn, before they’re tested.

As a little inspiration, Richard Thaler, author of Nudge, has an ethical code that he prescribes. And I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you borrowed it:

  1. All nudging should be transparent and never misleading
  2. It should be easy to opt-out of the nudge
  3. There should be good reason to believe the behavior being encouraged will improve the welfare of the people being nudged.

Liked this article? Why not check out Part One, “How Uber Used Psychology to Perfect Its Experience.”

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How Psychology Saved Apple
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