Human Behaviour Research and Techniques for Transformational Success Part I


Customer Experience Corporate Transformation Customer Centric Design

I recently had the pleasure of attending CXPA’s Toronto Local Network event on Human Behaviour Research and Techniques for Transformational Success.


The CXPA, or Customer Experience Professionals Association, dedicated to cultivating the Customer Experience profession and through their local networks, regularly host events to advance the knowledge amongst the industry’s professionals.


Run by a dedicated group of CX professionals, the Toronto local chapter headed up by Derek Bildfell, focused on Human Behaviour for this month’s event.


Hosted onsite at the Oxford Properties Group’s office, the event featured Megan Burns sharing research on human behavior and how it impacts corporate transformation.


The following is a two-part summary of Megan’s presentation.


Why is Corporate Transformation So Hard?


Megan, who focuses on corporate culture because “it’s the hardest but most important part of customer experience”, started her presentation off with a statistic from McKinsey & Company which found that 60% of corporate transformation efforts fail.


When thinking about how to explain why change is so hard she described cultural change as the “eat healthy and exercise” of CX.


We know that it is important and what it means, but we don’t do it.


CX is similar in that we do not have to convince people that it is important, we need to convince them to do it.


The Unpleasant Truths About Human Nature


In going through the research on human behaviour, Megan shared five unpleasant truths to be cognizant of when building a corporate culture that will promote healthy transformation.


  1. We’re on autopilot

  2. Our thinking is often wrong

  3. Our environment drives behaviour

  4. Stress kills empathy

  5. Trust revives empathy


We’re on autopilot: We like to think that we are autonomous and in charge of what we do but research shows that 40% of what we do daily is routine.


From this routine, we develop learned behaviours or habits that are automatically triggered by cues as to which habit to use.


These habits are intentionally hard to change because they save the brain from having to stop and think.


When the brain is rewarded with the feedback that the routine worked well, we start to go on automatic pilot and get comfortable with those routines.


In facilitating cultural change then, changing habits is really important.


Thoughts and language are also habits and some of the most invasive ones we have in CX.


What routines does your organization have that could be impeding CX and what cues could it develop to promote new routines that are better aligned to driving CX?


Our thinking is often wrong: Companies typically have shared assumptions about the nature of the world and how to succeed in it.


When trying to change culture we therefore need to change assumptions.


But first we need to understand the assumptions that we have.


What assumptions do your colleagues make about customers? Employees? Executives? Competitors? Human nature?


To make changes to the customer’s experience, businesses need to challenge the incorrect and preconceived ideas they have which may be impacting CX.


Our environment drives behaviour: Environment matters more than you think. 


The Cornell Food & Brand lab conducted research to test whether the size of a popcorn container impacted the amount of popcorn a person ate.


Turns out that it does.


People did not stop eating popcorn when they were full but rather by how empty the container was.


Other factors such as the type of movie viewed also influenced the amount of popcorn eaten.


The point is that environmental factors influence and trigger habits that affect what we do or how we feel.


That means factors of the office also influence habits.


One study showed that 71% of people are less happy in open office spaces than having their own walls and doors around them.


Stay tuned next week to learn about what kills and revives empathy, and what companies can do to foster an environment that promotes great customer experience.

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