Customer service and customer loyalty can be improved by using decision science – Interview with Phil Barden

Learn Unlearn Relearn

Today’s interview is with Phil Barden, MD of decode marketing ltd and author of ‘Decoded. The Science Behind Why We Buy’ and follows on from my recent interview: Employee engagement inside one of the UK’s best companies to work for – Interview with Keith Lewis of Matchtech

This interview makes up number fifty in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Phil:

  • Phil and the folks at Decode help businesses understand what they call the ‘implicit processes’ that go influence us in the decisions we make as customers.
  • Not a decision scientist by trade but a marketer who has experienced a huge shift in his understanding in how we make decisions and has changed career to follow his new passion for decision science and helping business benefit from these new insights from brain research and neuroscience.
  • Just recently published a book called: Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy that explains Phil’s journey and what he has found it. It also contains a large number of case studies of how some businesses are using insights from decision science to generate fantastic results.
  • We need to challenge the way that we do business if our business is based on the traditional marketing models. Advances in the last ten years in neuro, cognitive and behavioural science is fundamentally challenging our assumptions about how we make decisions. This means that the models we currently use are at best: incomplete; and at worst: wrong.
  • Choice does not necessarily make our lives easier.
  • Our brains have evolved to want to work as efficiently as possible. Thinking is hard, tiring and consumes energy.
  • The brain’s dominant mental processes are built for action rather than thinking and so we don’t naturally want to think.
  • Semmelweis reflex is our propensity to reject information that does not confirm to established norms, which goes some way to explaining why we prefer the status quo and don’t like change.
  • Traditionally, we believed that we need to change attitudes in order to change behaviour but what science is now telling us is that actually it is the other way round and a behaviour change leads to attitude change.
  • Fascinating examples in the book about how that can be applied in service situations where customers have to wait and the behavioural cost of that. That behavioural cost can be mitigated by providing value or information on how long the waiting time will be. This reduces our anxiety and increases our willingness to wait.
  • To improve service it might not be as simple as making something bigger, faster or cheaper.
  • Think about what can you do that incurs a marginal incremental cost but has a high perceived value.
  • Another example in the book of a business which used a customer loyalty card that had more spaces than its regular card but had some pre-stamped the first two i.e.. regular cards had 8 spaces and the new cards had 10 spaces with 2 pre-stamped. They ran them together and the pre-stamped card created 70% more business than the other card.
  • What’s even more fascinating is that the people that went on to complete the pre-stamped cards rated the business as better and had higher satisfaction than the the people that went on to complete the unstamped cards.
  • All of these lessons apply to all businesses of all sizes and types for one reason: we are all humans with brains.
  • Phil’s top two lessons 1. Prepare to be challenged and 2. Steal with pride ie. use the examples in the book in your business.
  • Lots more insights, reasons and examples in the interview. Don’t just read the notes….listen to the interview.

 

About Phil (taken from the Decoded book website)

Phil Barden

Phil Barden is a proven marketer with over 25 years’ experience, including senior and international roles at high profile companies such as Unilever, Diageo and T-Mobile. Fascinated by the insights from decision science and by the value these can bring to marketing, he quit his international brand director post in order to immerse himself in this new field. He is now one of very few experts to combine a practitioner’s perspective with a profound knowledge of decision science, making him very much in demand among clients and conference organisers alike. In this book he bridges the gap between the world of marketing and decision science, taking the reader on his fascinating journey.

Phil wrote this book because his mental model for consumer behaviour and brand management system was significantly shaken four years ago when Vice-President Brand Development for T-Mobile. He was confronted by a totally new mental model for marketing and consumer decision making based on decision science: the conclusions from the latest collective learnings from neuroscience, behavioural economics, cognitive and social psychology. This offers new explanations of consumer behaviour, and it disproves some of the very basic assumptions that marketers make about how consumers decide. It provides a profound framework for marketing – from brand strategy and positioning, through to innovation, advertising and interactive media.

You can grab a copy of the book on Amazon here, check out the book’s website here and connect with Phil on Linkedin here and Twitter @philbarden.

Note: I take an unashamedly DIY approach to my podcasts with no intro and outro, unlike many other podcasts. So, what you get is just conversation less a few ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ that I’ve been able to edit out to make everyone sound slightly more eloquent. If you like the podcast be sure to subscribe to it via iTunes. If you do then please take the time to rate the podcast on iTunes too. Thanks.

Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    A fascinating interview.

    Along similar lines one of the things that I have learnt is the power of the default option. As you say, we don’t like to think we like to act, so we often choose the default option (or not make a decision at all.)

    This insight has fantastic powers for good or evil. How should you set the default option on a mobile phone contract or a pension plan?

    James

  2. Hello Adrian

    The graphic says it all: learn, unlearn, relearn. The other points that caught my eye include: attitudes and behaviour; and thinking and action. I am clear that we should be shaping behaviour rather than striving to change attitudes. And fully agree that we confuse ourselves when we think ourselves as thinkers, we are actors! We act then rationalise using our thinking.

    Maz

    • Cheers Maz,
      I am glad that you got value out of the interview with Phil. I’m really loving uncovering insights from authors and practitioners and am glad that you are finding them useful too.

      Best wishes,

      Adrian

  3. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also the rest of the website is very good.

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