The art of the ‘Nudge’: driving customers and employees towards desired behaviours

Over the last year much of our connections with brands, colleagues, or the greater world, have been sacrificed in favour of endless scrolling, liking, tapping, and other superficial interactions. In 2021, brands that master the subtle and meaningful ‘nudge’ of employees or customers will hold the key to success.

In Bain’s annual report on Tech Innovation trends, they identified several innovation trends leading the executive agenda in 2021 (Bain | Nine Tech Innovation Trends Leading the Executive Agenda in 2021), which we have seen every day with our clients at Southpigalle. We recommend every business leader take note of these key trends that will surely be driving the industry this year.

What is a ‘nudge’?

Essentially, a nudge is a hint – maybe a very indirect one – to follow a certain path, make a certain decision or take a certain action. The concept of ‘Nudge Marketing’ has been coined using the concepts of Richard Thaler and Case Sustein in their book Nudge, where they describe it as, “A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid.” When used effectively, ‘nudges’ can be clearly put in place to draw the eye to certain appealing features of a product in e-commerce, remind people to complete otherwise unappealing tasks or any manner of behaviours that a brand may want their customers or employees to take.

This concept of nudging is closely tied to user-centric product design – thinking about where a user’s eyes will be drawn, why they will be motivated to make one choice or another, what may deter them from certain options based on its signifiers to take a certain decision.

Why we should be prompting and ‘nudging’ towards desired behaviours

Asking customers or even employees to engage in a meaningful way can be difficult – when left to their own devices, most will actively avoid engaging, participating or sharing. When it is captured, this feedback and engagement can be used to such a great advantage, providing a deeper understanding to the brand, product or team about what makes them tick. Efforts in 2020 to encourage customer behaviours using dedicated loyalty/engagement programs or contacting them directly through dedicated channels have only progressed further.

Profiling and the subsequent personalisation of communications and interactions with a brand allow these ‘nudges’ to be more subtle to the employee or customer, leading them to desired decisions. For example, if you know that this customer has shopped with you before, you can ensure that the sales working with them will show them new additions to the collection that they purchased from last time, ensuring the customer is lead down a decision making process to feel that they are welcomed, remembered, and that the service and products are highly relevant to not just their needs but also their lifestyle. The same nudging system works for employees too – if you want more employees to complete their timesheets at the end of the workday, ensure that the logout screen on your intranet provides a link to the timesheet completion page.

What have we learned from deploying ‘nudging’ solutions with our clients?

Across all industries, we design solutions with our clients – and their users – in mind. We work in a Design Thinking system (learn more about that here), examining their business needs from all angles and finding an idea that integrates with their prospective user’s decision making processes and their other interests. We have learned so much from designing systems for our client’s customers and employees that we think anyone should know the following tips when deploying a ‘nudging’ solution:

  • Know your user. Take the time to understand the current workflow and environment they operate in – ‘nudging’ is most effective when it seems like the logical next step or the path of least resistance to achieve their goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘nudge’ multiple times. Providing many opportunities for users to take a certain action can ensure that more users will take the desired action.
  • Consider colour theory. Maybe your brand colours are what you want to see everywhere – but have you considered that many users react differently to a colour (and therefore may be deterred from certain actions based on that colour)? Many brands use highly precise colours in their packaging or logos, but these may not always be well received in mobile or web renderings – red often is perceived as ‘error’, light colours or yellow as difficult to read through, green is perceived as ‘correct’. Consider establishing branding for your digital product that might depart from your traditional brand signatures!
  • Have a clear strategy for first impressions. What is the first thing you want users to do when they open your mobile app, website, or other digital product? Consider this first impression always – when planning your content, when designing your user stories. This is the most important ‘nudge’ of them all!

Interested in learning more about how Southpigalle can transform the way your team, customers, and communities work? Contact us.

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