I recently attended a panel discussion on the Victorian government’s use of behavioural science. Posing the question “Behavioural Insights: Time for the Mainstream?”, panelists profiled some of the work they are doing and discussed the value of fields like behavioural economics.
Responding to one of the criticisms of behavioural interventions, Dr Alex Gyani, representing the UK government’s Behavioural Insights team said this:
“Problems become low hanging fruit once they’ve been solved.”
Ain’t that the truth. With hindsight, everything seems obvious.
You see one of the criticisms of the publicised behavioural interventions has been that they have only tackled relatively straightforward problems – getting people to pay their tax on time, getting patients to turn up to appointments, and reducing prescription errors for example. And most of these interventions have involved wordsmithing and design tweaks to forms. Ostensibly “low hanging fruit”.
But don’t confuse degree of complexity with potential for impact.
Most famously, the UK government influenced citizens to pay tax on time by inserting one new sentence in a letter. The result? Hundreds of millions of pounds of extra revenue collected.
Behavioural interventions – small tweaks to things you are already doing that can generate significant returns
Tweaks to your collateral, your signage, your newsletter, the way you answer the phone, your reception area, your proposal documents, your website…things you do every day but are doing without knowing there might be a better way based on behavioural science.
I’m talking about what colour your Call to Action should be, what it should say, how and when you should display your pricing, whether and how to use images, how many options your should preset and in what sequence. Look around, you are standing in an orchard and these are your areas of low hanging fruit – but only if you solve them.
Be assured that behavioural science has the answers for you; I’m just waiting for you to ask.
P.S. I call these small tweaks “micro-moments”, can you can read more about one example here.
Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.