Behavioural science is a gold mine for service design and customer experience – Interview with Nicolae Naumof

Treasure trove

Today’s interview is with Nicolae Naumof, an applied behavioural science specialist, who helps businesses to increase customer satisfaction and increase profitability. Happier Customers & Higher Profitability through Behavioural Science Applied in Service Design is his motto. I came across Nicolae (Nick) following a Twitter exchange between Wim Rampen and Graham Hill regarding ‘applied behavioural economics and #gamification in the design of services. Nicolae joins me today to talk about his ebook:It Makes (No) Sense: In between the Joy of Gaining and the Fear of Losing, which is a ‘mini-encyclopedia of behavioural science’, how we can apply behavioural science in service design and some of the big lessons that can be learned from behavioural science and how that can apply to service design and customer experience.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Customer service, customer experience and millennials – Interview with Micah Solomon – and is number 134 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and deliver great service and experience.

It Makes (No) SenseHighlights from my interview with Nicolae:

  • Behavioural science is the branch of science that studies decision-making, judgement and human behaviour.
  • Nick’s book does not intend to compete with two classics of the domain: Thinking, Fast and Slow and Predictably Irrational but aims to provide structure and access to this field of knowledge for people interested in its application, particularly in the field of service design.
  • The general belief in psychology is that human behaviour is the outcome of a Person’s Character (Personality) mixed with cold-reasoned judgment.
  • But, personality is the weakest predictor of behaviour as it refers to long term patterns of behaviour and not instances of behaviour.
  • In his book Nick talks about a 4D model of human behaviour and that we should take all aspects into account when designing services. These aspects include:
    • Two external drivers:
      • Social Influences (What other people around us do and say),
      • Physical Environment (What we perceive through our senses, how the physical environment is designed and the way in which choices are presented); and
    • Two internal drivers:
      • Transient (internal) States (How we feel / are at the moment of behaving (e.g. hunger, bliss)),and
      • Personality (Personality traits are predictors of long-term patterns of behaviour).

4D Model of human behaviour

  • In service design if we concentrate too much on who the customer ‘is’ then we can tend to ignore a lot of the ‘transient’ factors. Therefore, the use of ‘personas’ that capture many of these transient factors can be a lot more useful.
  • With regards to the impact of the physical environment on our decision-making we are not always aware of the impact that our senses have on our behaviour.
  • The main lesson that behavioural science can offer service design and customer experience is to realise that you are not talking to ‘Mister Spock’ when talking to customers.
  • The adoption of behavioural insight in business , service design and customer experinece is still small.
  • However, interest is growing fast but one of the main challenges is not awareness of the benefits that can be gained through the use of behavioural insights but actually applying these insights. Application is hindered by a lot of inertia in organisations.
  • Behavioural science is a gold mine for service design but it does not guarantee that you will find gold bars. This also implies a degree of experimentation and failure.
  • A lot of decision-making people in companies are not eager to expose themselves to this level of experimentation.
  • Generally, it is understood and accepted that people are more motivated to avoid a loss of 100 Euros compared to a gain of 100 Euros. However, this can change depending on the context.
  • Therefore, not all behavioural science insights will apply to your context and you will need to experiment to get a better understanding of what works for your business, brand and service and what doesn’t.
  • Nick gives an example where the release of the scent of chocolate in a book store increases the sales of romance novels.
  • There is no such thing as a handbook in using behavioural science in service design.
  • To start applying behavioural science insights to your business:
    • 1. Accept that you are dealing with human beings and not customers, users or whatever.
    • 2. Start reading about the subject; and
    • 3. Accept there is no perfect solution unless you explore.
  • Nick tells a story of the UK government’s Behavioural Insight team and their success in the area of organ donations. However, what people don’t know was that they tested 9 different scenarios/questions before landing on the best performing one.

About Nicolae (adapted from his LinkedIn bio)

Nicolae NaumofNicolae (Nick) Naumof, a Behavioural Science Specialist, has studied people from various scientific perspectives ranging from normative economics, to behavioral economics and to evolutionary psychology.

Author of “It Makes (No) Sense – In Between the Joy of Gaining and the Fear of Losing”, Nick has a unique mix of skills that allow him to translate the academic insights of behavioural science into practical applications in business and service design..

Nick aims at building bridges between behavioural sciences and practice by putting the academic findings to work.

With more than seven years’ experience in developing and delivering workshops and training programs, Nick offers highly engaging and intriguing learning experiences.

Nick often gives keynote talks on applied behavioural science. He (usually) engages the audience in collective exercises and thought experiments. Among his recent appearances are The Habit Summit Europe 2014 and Design for Conversion 2014.

You can pick up a copy of his book here, connect with him on LinkedIn here and don’t forget to check out his website, his blog and say Hi on Twitter @NicholasNaumof.

Photo Credit: Theen … via Compfight cc

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