Can we ever reliably judge ourselves (let alone others)?

In yesterday’s Thinking Tank debate on ethics, I was struck in particular by the change in self evaluation between the beginning and the end of the discussion. It seems, as the writers of the book we referred to (Bazerman and Tenbrunsel’s “Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It”), that we are all prone to some self delusion on this subject. Full results.

So if this is true when it comes to ethics – and other studies show it also to be true with respect to driving skills, sexual prowess, frequency of exercise, moderate drinking etc – is our own opinion ever to be trusted?

When I run a Thinking Tank, or an online or traditional focus group for a client, I always try to hold back from jumping to any conclusions. With a subconscious that filters out 99% of the evidence in order to fit in with our expectations, first impressions can be hazardous.  The good thing about having all the data to analyse afterwards is that it gets much harder to substantiate conclusions that reflect the analyst more than the subjects.

I notice the same in dispute resolution.  Both sides can be utterly convinced that they are right, yet hold conflicting memories of what has happened. Unless there is an independent third party account or other objective evidence, the only way forward seems to be to assume that both parties are indeed right about their view of events.  And instead discuss what needs to happen next. My kids always feel that track record should be taken into account “you KNOW he always lies about everything” but that can be just as arbitrary, and in research projects, usually neither available nor useful.

So when it comes to understanding behaviour, it seems to me that the most rigorous approach is to carefully observe and consider everything that is said and done during the research process. Then add the client’s historical knowledge as a checkpoint. “do you recognise this?” can be one of the most useful health checks for the feedback from a study.

By the way, if you would like to join our monthly Thinking Tank, get a brain workout, see if you can put your finger on the pulse and risk reconsidering your views, just email me and I will invite you to the next one.

Being a Customer Interpreter

?In a world where we can access more numbers about more customer events than ever before, are we getting any nearer to seeing the world through our customers’ eyes? Or hearing our messages through their ears? Only by keeping our eyes, ears and minds wide open can we develop marketing and branding that will be seen and heard and welcomed by our current and future customers.

Read the full paper here Being a Customer Interpreter

What is a Customer Interpreter?

What a Customer Interpreter® does, and why it’s the key to a successful business. Including

  • 4 techniques for a Customer Interpreter
  • 3 applications for your business

If you run a business in your own country, you probably believe you speak the same language as your customer.

But do your customers think you speak the same language as them?

Overcoming the communications gap makes obvious business sense. More and more customers have choices and they choose suppliers and products that they can identify with. None of us like to feel misled, or patronised or misunderstood. So if they can relate better to your business, they’re more likely to buy from you.

To read this paper download the pdf here What a Customer Interpreter does

Technique: Colour Profile

Like it or not, we are all influenced by the chemistry and physiology of colour. Getting it right can clear away customer misgivings about your product and help you sell more. Getting it wrong can undermine your brand and make the customer nervous about your reliability.

Choose the right Colour Profile for your retail outlet, environment, brand or publications can amke all the difference.

We have worked with organisations like 20th Century Fox, Ricoh, Syracuse University, Learning and Skills Council and Bendicks as well as many start ups to define and improve the way colour works for them.

Catherine Shovlin is a Colour Affects Accredited Consultant trained by Angela Wright in 2003.

Technique: Mindset Profile

Our research suggests that as much as 85% of  materials designed to convince employees or citizens about something are completely ignored. Not a great score.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. We produce a detailed Mindset Profile of your customers that is more likely to get their attention and help them decide to buy your product or service.

For employee research we use the Mindset Profile to give an immediate picture of the energy flows in your organisation so that you can improve employee alignment and productivity.

Based on Shelle Rose Charvet’s great work and dozens of projects of our own. See here for more info on Shelle.

Nudging patients

Last week I was working with the Accidents and Emergency dept of a busy London hospital. One of the improvements we were discussing was a ticketing system so patients had some sense of being in a queue, not being forgotten, making progress towards being seen and helped.

There were some legitimate concerns from the hospital staff.  What about emergencies? What about re-prioritisation? What about different cases requiring different responses?

This morning I’ve been at the surprisingly smart and customer friendly UK passport office in London. I wish I could bring the management team of the hospital to see it.  Check in took moments as my personal details had already been taken (over the phone but could also be online or in a kiosk). I got my ticket P0456 and was told to wait in the lounge. Yes really, the lounge.

Clear screens around the lounge displayed three kinds of lists the P numbers, the F numbers and the A numbers.  As they scrolled through each I could see how far down my  queue I was. If they called an F or A number I assumed they had good reason.
There was also a list of counters and who they were currently serving so I was further reassured that work was being done and my turn would come soon.

A group of numbers at the top of each list were highlighted reminding these people to be ready to go. So if the queue had been longer I’d have known when it was safe to go to the loo or buy a drink from the vending machine.

When it came to my turn my number came on the screen along with the counter number I should go to. This was backed up by a computer generated announcement so even if I hadn’t been paying attention to the screen I probably would have heard the announcement.

An excellent example of a smooth running, informative, fair system that would also work for non-English speakers. Easy to transfer to emergency rooms around the country.

Behaviour research example: Nudging A&E patients

Challenge: Understand reasons for patients coming to A&E insted of using their GP and ways to affect that behaviour
Our approach:
visit A&E waiting room, interview patients and staff, observe behaviour

A few of our recommendations to encourage better choices for medical attention

  • There are two main patient types: the health manager and the health victim. It is

    Patient behaviour: health victim and health manager

    the latter group who are heavy users of A&E for a range of practical and emotional reasons, many of which can be addressed.

  • Nudging techniques are recommended to shift behaviour in a more patient-centric way eg raising awareness of the salient “cost” of their choice
  • Encourage patient empowerment / co-ownership. “It’s not only doctors or the Chief Executive who have responsibility for this hospital. We all must look after our society. This is a public service and we are all part of the public”

Timescale: 1 month
Full report: find it here: A&E patient behaviour