“BEHAVIORS” are more important….than customers!

A shopper looks at tablet computers at a Best Buy Store on the shopping day dubbed "Black Friday" in Framingham



“Careful the plate is hot, don’t touch the plate it’s very hot……..I’ll get you band-aid for your burnt finger”.


“Identifying”, “Anticipating” and “Changing” someone’s behavior has to be up there as the most difficult thing to accomplish. The hot plate example above illustrates the difficulty it is to get someone to comply to an instruction that will keep them safe…..changing behavior FAIL. Even when you know it’s in that person’s best interest to change their behavior, getting them to take that leap is much more difficult than singing Beethoven’s 9th. Here’s a quote from Forbes contributor Erik Anderson that I’d like to discuss with you: “People will change their behavior if they see the new behavior as easy, rewarding and normal”. My first immediate thought response to this quote was yeah makes sense, easy, rewarding, and normal (bada bing bada boom!!)……..but then I thought that’s too easy. When I think of companies/products that have been wildly successful in changing customer behavior easy, rewarding and normal weren’t necessarily the key ingredients. The APPLE IPhone product for example, do you know there are people out there that will not touch the new IPhone 6 that are extremely happy with the obsolete IPhone 4……because they’re afraid the upgrade is too complex when it’s being touted as innovative and uncomplicated. APPLE has had amazing success with early sales of the IPhone 6, but you gotta think there are folks in Silicon Valley not liking the conversion ratio of the earlier IPhones to the latest IPhone 6. So, there’s an argument to be had regarding the importance of “Behaviors” in today’s business, as opposed to being hyper-focused on “The Customer”.

Today’s popular customer nomenclature is “Customer Engagement” every single industry wants it, needs it, and presumably can’t live without it. “Digital Marketing” another fad nomenclature which relies totally on its ability to obtain customer engagement. There are SEO companies out there enjoying huge profits selling corporate America on how they can connect them to the customer…..hence the birth of customer engagement. In a recent Forbes article it stated that a company retaining an SEO on a monthly basis for a national or international campaign that isn’t focused on a niche audience, can expect to pay that SEO $10,000 per month……seriously? By the way, this is not guaranteeing that this form of customer engagement is going to pan out to any meaningful interaction with a potential customer…or help to change customer behavior. I wrote a post recently on “Customer Access” and how it’s getting harder every day to get to them with any regularity so I’m not pooping on SEO companies and their value, however, I do think the bigger question remains…..how does that process actually help to drive changing customer behavior?

Okay, I’m going to take a stab at why people/customers behave in a certain way especially as it relates to making a purchase:

Note: Most people cannot handle the virtual flood of information coming at them (especially with today’s technology) and unconsciously screen information. Social science research indicates that when people don’t have enough time or data to make decisions in their usual fashion, they take predictable “shortcuts.” “Customers” may sometimes use shortcuts in their decision-making process especially if they feel they have confidence of knowledge in the product or service. Below, I explain why commitment drivers can be tools to identify, anticipate, and locate opportunities to help change behavior and have a better understanding of the customer’s natural thought process.

There are six Commitment Drivers:

  • Scarcity: When something is perceived as rare or in short supply, the other party will be more motivated to take action to get it.
  • Deadline: If the other party feels that a valuable opportunity will shortly be unavailable, they will be more motivated to act now to acquire it.
  • Authority: When a credible expert (such as a well-known author or organization) addresses a course of action, the other party will feel that taking action is less risky.
  • Conformity: Sometimes called “Bandwagon” support where the thinking is, “Everyone is doing it.”
  • Bargain: Customers may take action (when they otherwise might not), simply because “it was too good a deal to pass up.”
  • Competition: Injecting an element of competition can often drive behavior change…especially if this is coupled with scarcity.


While there’s tons of data/analytics out there that address human behavior and why we do the things we do, the commitment drivers I listed have been used for years….you just didn’t know it. The next time you’re watching that digital box see if you can identify at least 2 out of the 6 commitment drivers in a commercial, I’ll bet you’ll find more. The customer in the end is still of course critical to business success but don’t fool yourself…..their  behaviors predict that success.

“BEHAVIORS” are more important….than customers! 

Check out my presentation/workshop on “Influencing”/”Negotiation”, 2 skills that can certainly aid the process of “Changing Behavior” (Thanks!): http://www.slideshare.net/aharrell2000/influence-negotiation-presentation2?related=2


Andre’ Harrell

AH2 & Beyond Consulting


3 thoughts on ““BEHAVIORS” are more important….than customers!

  1. Hey Andre’

    I really enjoy reading your blogs. I think they have the depth of thinking which usually lacks in online posts. The six commitment drivers here, I think are absolutely useful if you are targeting to achieve something with a limited time. They are spot on.

    I can understand how big a role can recommendation play for customers. Long live the SEO vendors. Even though the product you are selling is of top quality still you will need it to be recommended by tons of people. That itself says that customers are ready to make a famous mistake but nobody wants to do infamous correct.

    Though its go to read thoughts presented by like minded people as you. Will look forward to read more posts by you which get to the base of the problem & present a solution.



    1. Thanks again Litesh for reading the post and providing insightful feedback!! I think your understanding is spot on!

      Keep checking out the posts 🙂


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