Coming back after a long hiatus.
Many products and services are not bought by customers for they think ‘it’ won’t happen to them. This is the ‘Invulnerable Customer’ syndrome. This is not something new in the market segments of Insurance, Healthcare, Vehicle and Home Safety. It is in this context, the following interesting story comes from Roger Dooley writing at: http//www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/ articles/invulnerable-consumers.htm
“…The prescription for this marketing dilemma was found in a hospital, of all places. Can you imagine a group likely to be more careful about hand-washing than healthcare professionals in hospitals? Not only are they well educated about hand hygiene practices and the reasons for them, but they actually see patients who suffer from the same kinds of infections that can be transmitted when hands aren’t washed properly. Surprisingly, according to Penn psychologist Adam Grant, even among health care professionals hand-washing practices leave a lot to be desired.
Grant attributes this behavior to a feeling of invulnerability on the part of the healthcare pros. This feeling is amplified by the fact that they are exposed to germs often in the course of their work but rarely become ill. So, Grant conducted an experiment by placing a sign next to a hand hygiene area. One version of the sign read, “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases,” while another version said “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”
Bearing out the invulnerability theory, the sign that pointed out the threat to the healthcare professionals didn’t change their behavior at all. In contrast, the sign that changed just one word but pointed out the danger to patients (a group seen as vulnerable to disease) increased the use of soap and sanitizing gel by 33% and boosted the probability that the healthcare pros would wash their hands by 10%. (See Science Daily and the original paper. HT to Wray Herbert.)
…Many products are sold on the basis of self-concern, and rightly so. But, if that’s not working with some customers, alter the message to reflect the risk to others!…”
Well, Insurance companies are already on this track talking about protecting near and dear ones.
How about relooking at civic-minded injunctions that presently score nil impact and may even be distracting like:
‘Do not litter here.’
‘Keep Your City Clean.’
‘Do Not Cut Lanes.’ …
And, throw in visuals too for drama and numbers for emphasis. Well, at places, statistics on road accidents or the run-away population count do appear.
There are numerous other scenarios, I’m sure, where this principle could be tried out. For instance, should we apply to pithy time-worn injunctions in ethics?
While the above expresses it as a sales/marketing problem and a possible solution, let me point out a interesting manifestation of this principle of concern for others in an entirely different area: Information Systems!
I recall how we designed an application for an insurance company. Our UI design experts claimed their design had taken care of many things: colors, images, etc. Shorn of these frills, the main business was done on a screen displaying a form to be filled in by the customer. And on this screen, the usual UI gimmicks meant very little as it was a plain and simple form-filling exercise. How can the user-experience be improved at all in this all-too-common context of form filling? I wasn’t happy with what we came up with though I could not put my finger on how it could be done better to push our experts.
That’s when I got onto the net and zeroed on software solutions providers in the same space. And I found my answers with one vendor! He had used two devices that vastly improved the interaction, I thought:
a) He called the column that we had titled as ‘Persons to be covered’ as ‘Beneficiaries’. A small thing, you would say. But the word ‘Beneficiaries’ is much more positive encouraging the user in what he is doing for his near and dear.
b) More importantly there was a small pie-chart that showed what is the coverage he is buying presently and what he has left out, prompting him to think about including more. The dreary form-filling chore now has a little more punch of value to the user as well as the service provider!
While these may not be the ultimate in what could be done, it certainly gives you a flavor of what could magic could be wrought by an imaginatively designed IS application. A small sliver of what is meant by IT as a business-enabler.
Let us not settle for less with our designers!
More interesting stuff at http//www.neurosciencemarketing.com.