How to attract and keep customers by changing their habits

In the image, there are two women engaging with their smartphones. The person on the left is seated on a couch, wearing a white T-shirt under blue denim overalls, accessorized with what appears to be a necklace. Her hair is styled in a half-up, half-down fashion. The person on the right, in a blue shirt and her hair down, is focused intently on her device. They are indoors, likely in a living room or similar casual setting, suggesting a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere where technology is a central aspect of their interaction or activity.

Products can change people 

Certain products change what we do and who we are. Products can get us addicted as we create a habit of using them even multiple times a day with little or no thought behind our actions. Designing addictive products is a form of manipulation, that's why product builders need to make sure that they are building healthy habits, not unhealthy addictions.

 The ultimate goal is to solve the user’s pain 

Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain are two key motivators in all species. A habit is when not doing an action causes pain. Your product's goal is to solve the user’s pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company’s product or service as the source of relief.

 Behavior change: motivation, ability, and triggers 

Dr. B. J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, developed a model that serves as a simple way to understand what drives our actions. The Fogg Behavior Model is represented in a formula, B = MAT, which represents that a given behavior will occur when motivation, ability, and a trigger are present at the same time.

The Fogg Behavior Model

All three parts of B=MAT must be present for a singular user action to occur; without a clear trigger and sufficient motivation, there will be no behavior. But for companies building technology solutions, the greatest return on investment will generally come from increasing a product’s ease of use.

Any technology or product that significantly reduces the steps to complete a task will enjoy high adoption rates by the people it assists. Here's a trend line of the relationship between people creating content online and the increase in ease of doing so.

Source: Hooked

 Rewards make users come back again and again 

Reward your users by solving a problem, and reinforcing their motivation for the action taken in the previous phase. Only by understanding what truly matters to users can a company correctly match the right variable reward to their intended behavior.

There are many kinds of rewards that users long for:

Social rewards are driven by our connectedness with other people. Our brains are adapted to seek rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, important, and included. With every post, tweet, or pin, users anticipate social validation. Rewards. People who observe someone being rewarded for a particular behavior are more likely to alter their own beliefs and subsequent actions. On Stack Overflow, for example, points are not just an empty game mechanic, they confer special value by representing how much someone has contributed to their tribe. Users enjoy the feeling of helping their fellow programmers and earning the respect of people whose opinions they value.

Discovery rewards. Human beings once hunted for food, today we hunt for other things. In modern society, food can be bought with cash, and more recently by extension, information translates into money. Pinterest example: As the user scrolls to the bottom of the page, some images appear to be cut off. Often, images appear out of view below the browser fold. However, these images offer a glimpse of what's ahead, even if just barely visible. To relieve their curiosity, all users have to do is scroll to reveal the full picture. As more images load on the page, the endless search for variable rewards of the hunt continues.

Personal rewards. We are driven to conquer obstacles, even if just for the satisfaction of doing so. Pursuing a task to completion can influence people to continue all sorts of behaviors. Surprisingly, we even pursue these rewards when we don’t outwardly appear to enjoy them. Their self-determination theory espouses that people desire, among other things, to gain a sense of competency. Adding an element of mystery to this goal makes the pursuit all the more enticing.

 Always present a choice 

Companies that successfully change behaviors present users with an implicit choice between their old way of doing things and a new, more convenient way to fulfill existing needs. By maintaining the users’ freedom to choose, products can facilitate the adoption of new habits and change behavior for good.

 Make users invest: time, money, data, skill, reputation, networking 

For a change in attitude to occur, there must be a change in how users perceive the behavior. Small investments change our perception, turning unfamiliar actions into everyday habits. The more users invest time and effort into a product or service, the more they value it. Investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immediate gratification.

The timing of asking for user investment is critically important. By asking for the investment after the reward, the company has an opportunity to leverage a central trait of human behavior: reciprocation. This is not just a characteristic expressed between people, but also a trait observed when humans interact with machines. We invest in products and services for the same reasons we put effort into our relationships.

Investments increase the likelihood of users returning by improving the service the more it is used. They enable the accrual of stored value in the form of content, data, followers, reputation, or skill.

 Know your customers so you can change their habits 

The odds of successfully designing products for a customer you don’t know extremely well are depressingly low. Make sure that you ask yourself and answer these 5 fundamental questions:

1. What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (Internal Trigger)
2. What brings users to your service? (External Trigger)
3. What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action)
4. Are users fulfilled by the reward, yet left wanting more? (Variable Reward)
5. What “bit of work” do users invest in your product? Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)

 Sources and highly recommended books related to the topic 

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