It’s All About Behavior: What Makes People Tick?

Creating successful business and IT endeavors are about connecting to human behavior. How we view brands, buy things, deliver customer support, and navigate stores, apps and Websites hinges on key patterns. In fact, no matter how high-tech or automated things become, all roads lead back to behavior—and the habits we form.

It’s incredibly easy to forget this fact. In the daily scramble to get products out the door and fine-tune IT systems, a hundred other things get in the way. Consequently, products, services, Websites and apps frequently fail—or produce mediocre results.

That’s why we see high abandonment rates for everything from shopping carts to products. And it’s part of the reason why so many companies find it difficult to prevent customers from defecting to a competitor. Within an enterprise, this may translate into rogue apps and employees using IT systems ineffectively.

Amid this mess, there’s a simple truth: Finding the hooks and features that motivate someone to come back will achieve far greater stickiness—and produce much better results—than forcing that person to adhere to a rigid system that doesn’t fit his or her needs.

Amazon, Starbucks, Netflix and Facebook understand this concept well.

BJ Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, points out that “emotions create habits.” For instance, there’s a positive response when a person sees a red Netflix envelope in the mail or views notifications on their Facebook app. The goal is to design a system that elicits an automatic and consistently positive response.

Within this framework, it’s critical to understand what truly motivates people. Yet, it isn’t necessarily what people say in surveys or focus groups that matters. In many instances, there’s a tendency for people to say one thing but act in an entirely different way.

Instead, business and IT executives must focus on taking big data and analytics to a far more sophisticated level. It’s necessary to plug in historical data, geolocation data, clickstream data, logs and myriad other data sources in order to put key questions and challenges under a microscope.

There’s also a need to drill down into usability issues—along with the way people adopt and actually use products—to fully understand what makes individuals tick … and click.