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Nudge Your Customers to Low-Cost Service

Posted on  23 March 10  by 

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By Dan Clay

I recently received a new credit card in the mail.  I looked at the ‘how to register’ details on the front of the card for the phone number, and a slight twist on this inevitable sticker changed my typical action.  Instead of providing me two equal options – a Web site and a phone number – the sticker provided the Web URL and thenchoices said, in the soft whisper of small font, “If you do not have internet access, call 1 (888)…

They still provided the phone number.  I bet they would have taken my call without running background to check for broadband bills.  But they took a basic choice and subtly positioned one option as the obvious default. 

Harvard Business Review calls this process setting a “mass default” that directs customers toward the choice that’s better for the company and easier for the customer.  The “choice architecture”—the order of the options, the font size difference, the language preceding the phone number—nudges me to the Web and away from the phone.

Before anyone writes this off as insidious mind-games, customers subconsciously crave a little direction, as my colleague Dalia mentioned last week.  But they’d never ask for it and they might not take it if it seemed like you were giving it. 

Nudges can get people to conserve energy and take better care of themselves (and even help a German senior center prevent alzheimer’s patients from wandering off). It’s a theory that’s pierced the West Wing (although behavioral economists might be craving the stability of academia over the volatile preferences of the political scene), and CCC has seen it work in many progressive member companies devoted to high-quality service.

CCC Members, see how Fidelity Investments nudges customers to successful online issue resolution.  Also, conduct a quick audit of your Web site to see if you’re taking advantage of opportunities to provide a customer-friendly nudge (B2C | B2B Technical Support | B2B Order Management). 

Have you had any recent experiences with successful ‘nudges’—either as the nudger or the nudged?

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