The art of changing a customer’s behavior with triggers

This last week I received an email that my desktop backups weren’t running.

(Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with my apps or servers. This is my personal desktop)

When I was young I lost a lot of school work because of a computer crash and didn’t have a backup. Since then I’ve built-up sophisticated system to prevent that from ever happening again.

Now every night my desktop gets backed up. If it doesn’t run successfully, I have another system that will automatically notify me about it.

This time the backed failed because I ran out of disk space (I’ve been working on a new data-heavy feature for Repeat Customer Insights and used too much disk space).

The important part is the notification.

Day-to-day I don’t worry about my backups. They just happen.

My behavior doesn’t change.

But the notification acts as an exceptional event. A trigger for new behavior. I could decide to keep my behavior and the backups would continue to fail, or I could change my behavior and fix the backups today.

I ignored the notification once because I was busy.

But then the next day when that trigger happened again, I decided to change my behavior and spend the time to fix them.

Now that they’ve been fixed, I can go back to my regular day-to-day behavior.

While this might look like over-analysis, it’s to illustrate a point. People do this trigger/behavior multiple times everyday without thinking about the process.

You start to brush your teeth, find out you’re out of toothpaste, and have to decide between not using toothpaste, not brushing, or running to the store really quick.

You get a severe weather notification and have to decide if you want to risk going out to the store like you do every Sunday or staying at home.

You get an email from your favorite ice cream store with a coupon for today only and you have to decide to ignore it or go get a bowl (bucket) of mint chocolate chip.

The examples are endless but they all have things in common. Something triggers the opportunity for a behavior change.

You, as a store, have the ability to create those triggers. That’s marketing.

How well your behavior change trigger performs depend on how you design the trigger but also everything else about your store, products, and past experiences this customer has had with you.

Backup failed trigger? Probably will get a behavior change.

Ice cream on sale? Yummy behavior change.

Check out our new product? Iffy.

Give your triggers some thought and see if there’s better ones you can use to get the behavior change you want.

Eric Davis

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