Published February 26, 2024

Customer Catalysts: Leveraging Behavioral Change Techniques for Product Growth

10 min read

Understanding and influencing customer behavior is at the heart of every successful product or service. If you’re grappling with the question, “How do I learn the behaviors of my customers?” you’re on the right track toward fostering a deeper connection with your audience. Let’s dive into the world of behavioral change techniques and explore how they can unlock the potential of your customer relationships and drive your business forward.

Why Behavioral Change Can Be Challenging

Customers often resist changes to their behavior unless there’s a substantial benefit. Incremental improvements rarely compel a shift in habits, making it expensive and challenging for businesses to promote new behaviors. 

Let’s face it: changing customer behavior is akin to completing a complex puzzle. It’s intricate, nuanced, and, frankly, a tad daunting. But why is it so crucial? New products and services thrive on adding value to our lives. Yet, the real hurdle emerges when we nudge customers to alter their habits to reap these benefits. It’s no walk in the park.

Imagine this: You’ve developed a groundbreaking product. It’s sleek, innovative, and packed with features. However, if leveraging it means customers must pivot from their routine, you might hit a wall. Unless your offering is a game-changer, prompting a seismic shift in behavior, most folks cling to their old ways. The data doesn’t lie—our Helio surveys show that many people resist swapping out their habits, even for better alternatives. 

What Are Behavioral Change Techniques?

Behavioral change techniques (BCTs) are systematic processes to influence individual behavior changes. In the context of customer behavior, these techniques encourage the adoption of new products or services. However, altering established customer habits is no small feat. It requires a deep understanding of their needs and employing strategic methods to guide them towards desired actions.

Behavior change techniques can influence individual behavior changes.

Leveraging the Behavior Change Techniques List

The Behavior Change Techniques Taxonomy (BCTTv1) by Michie et al. provides an extensive list of 93 techniques designed to facilitate behavior change. These techniques span various categories, such as goals and planning, feedback and monitoring, social support, shaping knowledge, and more.

The Path to Behavioral Change

We’re inspired by Robert Meza’s thoughts on how you might use this Behavior Change Techniques list. If your product or service requires your customers to change their behavior, this is a great list to find new techniques to inspire customers to take action. Helio is a great way to understand your customer’s current behaviors.

Despite the challenges, there are ways to inspire behavioral change effectively:

  1. Understand Desired Behaviors: Define the behaviors you aim to enable, whether for customers or employees. This understanding should be rooted in their needs and preferences.
  2. Identify Drivers and Patterns: Use a behavior model or framework to pinpoint the drivers behind current behaviors. Look for patterns that can offer insights into how and why your customers act the way they do.
  3. Consult Behavioral Change Techniques: With insights in hand, refer to a comprehensive list of BCTs to identify which ones could address the barriers preventing behavior change.
  4. Operationalize Techniques into Features: Translate the chosen BCTs into practical features that align with your product’s delivery mode and context.

The Role of Research in Supporting Behavioral Change

UX research is pivotal in dissecting customer behaviors and preferences. It provides a scientific basis for understanding the user’s environment, needs, and challenges. By employing various research methodologies—such as user interviews, ethnographic studies, usability tests, and surveys—UX researchers can uncover deep insights into why customers behave the way they do. This understanding is crucial when selecting the right behavioral change techniques. For instance, if research indicates that users are motivated by social proof, techniques that leverage social influence can be particularly effective.

Product Discovery’s Contribution to Behavioral Change

Product discovery goes hand-in-hand with UX research in the journey toward influencing customer behavior. This proactive process involves identifying the potential for a new product or feature before it’s developed. Techniques like Helio surveys can reveal what users value in their current solutions and what they feel might be missing. This insight allows product teams to tailor their development strategy to align with user expectations and barriers to change. For example, suppose a survey reveals that users resist change due to a lack of understanding. In that case, product discovery can guide teams to develop educational features that elucidate the benefits of the new behavior.

Intersecting UX Research with Product Discovery

When UX research and product discovery intersect, they create a comprehensive picture of the customer’s world. This fusion informs which behavioral change techniques will be most effective. It also helps customize these techniques to fit the unique context of the product or service offered. By understanding user behaviors through research and aligning product features to meet those behaviors through discovery, businesses can create solutions that encourage change and support the user throughout their transition to new habits.

Ultimately, both disciplines aim to minimize resistance and maximize acceptance, making the adoption of new behaviors a natural progression for the user. The data and insights gathered become the groundwork for a strategy that can nudge customer behaviors to benefit both the user and the business.

Steps to Apply Behavioral Change Techniques

Here’s how you can apply these techniques:

  • Set Clear Objectives: Clearly defined goals guide change direction. It’s about what you want to achieve and ensuring your customers see the value in the change.
  • Provide Feedback and Monitoring: Regular feedback helps customers understand the impact of their behavior and can motivate them to maintain the desired change.
  • Enhance Social Support: Encouraging a community around your product or service can provide the social reinforcement needed to sustain behavioral change.
  • Shape Knowledge: Educate your customers on the benefits and usage of your products to empower them with the knowledge to change.
  • Identify Barriers and Facilitators: Recognize what impedes your customers from changing their behavior and what could facilitate the process.
  • Use Rewards and Threats Appropriately: Incentives can motivate change, but they must be meaningful and substantial to outweigh the effort required by the customer.
  • Consider Identity and Self-Belief: Customers are likelier to adopt behaviors that align with themselves.

Measure Progress with Real-Time Helio Feedback

Using a tool like Helio for testing and surveys can deeply enrich the application of behavioral change techniques by offering real-time insights and data-driven guidance. Here’s how Helio can support:

Set Clear Objectives

With Helio, you can run surveys to determine what your customers truly value. You can refine your objectives by asking the right questions to meet customer needs. For example, you can test different value propositions to see which resonates most and use this information to set clear, customer-aligned objectives.

Provide Feedback and Monitoring

Helio can be used to collect ongoing feedback from users about their experiences with your product or service. By regularly reaching out with surveys post-interaction, you can monitor customer satisfaction and behavior changes over time, provide users with insights into their progress and areas for improvement.

Identify Barriers and Facilitators

Helio can help you identify obstacles and facilitators to behavioral change by allowing you to ask direct questions about challenges and motivators. This information is crucial for designing interventions that address barriers and leverage facilitators.

Use Rewards and Threats Appropriately

Through Helio, test different reward scenarios to see which incentives will likely motivate your customers. Surveys can gauge customer reaction to potential rewards or consequences, ensuring that any you implement will be impactful and meaningful.

Here are some specific ways you can get feedback:

Baseline Usage Analysis:

Monitor how users currently interact with your product without any behavior change techniques implemented. This will give you a baseline to compare against.

Ask users about their current habits, preferences, and pain points with your product. First-click and usability testing is great for understanding how users currently interact with your product.

We tested the usability of an online banking platform, Banko, using click testing in Helio by providing different directives to users and measuring their success at finding the right actions on the page:

Click tests measure success at finding the right actions on the page.

67% of participants expected to find current credit score information under the build credit section instead of within the current credit score section on the screen. 

Banko found that the use of their proprietary Financial Health Score on their dashboard can be confused with existing actions related to building users’ credit scores.

View the Helio Example

Goal Setting and Feedback Mechanisms:

Implement goal-setting features in your product and observe how users interact with them. Can they set goals easily? Are they engaged with these goals?

After the test phase, ask users how the goal-setting feature affected their product use. Did it motivate them? Why or why not?

Banko also put to the test their new onboarding feature idea, which has participants answer questions about their financial behaviors to produce a health score that they can track and receive advice on over time:

Click test validate and observe how users interact with them.

Using Helio’s branching feature, we could follow up on participants who would skip the quiz to understand why. 

“If I log in to an app, it is because I want to do something specific right then. For example, deposit, pay, or check balance.”– Helio Participants, Online Banking Consumer (US)

Banko found that up to 20% of users would skip the first question in the financial health survey, for the purpose of getting straight to their dashboard, and doubt about the effectiveness of the survey outcome.

View the Helio Example

Social Support Systems:

If applicable, introduce social features like sharing achievements or collaborating with friends and track engagement levels.

Gather feedback on the social features. Do they feel supported? Does the social aspect increase their commitment to using the product?

Another concept for Banko’s financial health score feature was to allow users to share their scores to encourage engagement with the platform and other users. 

Advanced filtering showcases a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data.

The mixture of quantitative and qualitative data shows why customers are unwilling to share their financial information. 

By testing this concept first, they found that confusion around the purpose of sharing their financial health score resulted in a significant amount (60%) of deterred users.

View the Helio Example

Rewards and Incentives:

Test different types of rewards (e.g., virtual badges, discounts, public recognition) to see which ones drive the most engagement. Ask users which rewards they find most motivating and why.

Beauty brand SkinSavvy used Helio to survey their target audience and understand their current experiences with customer loyalty programs as well as willingness to engage:

Filtering enables us to ask which rewards users find most motivating and why.

SkinSavvy found that most of their consumers (67%) have joined a loyalty program before, though the majority (36%) only take advantage of these offers occasionally.

Answer filtering allows you to see rewards and incentives.

“I usually do sign up if they offer a perk quickly enough or with low entry cost (like free shipping, $5 off or an extra freebie). If they have really high thresholds (like spend $500 for little perks), I won’t sign up.”
– Helio Participants, Beauty Product Consumer (US)

Helio helped SkinSavvy understand that interest for a loyalty program is high, with most participants (50%) saying their interest level is a 10/10. However, participants admit that they don’t always sign up for these programs with new brands, so providing enticing perks and few barriers to entry will be key to building engagement with their new loyalty program.

View the Helio Example

Identity Reinforcement:

Create personalization options that allow users to integrate their identity with the use of the product. Observe how often these features are used.

Inquire about how personalization affects their perception of the product and whether it makes the experience more engaging.

Online formalwear e-commerce company Getup used Helio tests to determine user reactions to their outfit suggestion features, such as one concept for providing outfit recommendations for specific events:

Sentiment analysis on this feature showed that doubt in the reliability.

The sentiment analysis on this feature showed that doubt in the reliability of outfit suggestions was a significant negative impression shared by up to 13% of their users.

“Don’t think they will know my style. I dress a little differently”
– Helio Participants, Male Online Formalwear Shopper (US)

Once they can overcome the inherent doubt faced by participants, Getup recognized that their event outfit suggestions can be a great tool for helping reinforce and even magnify their customer’s personalities.

View the Helio Example

Self-Belief and Encouragement:

Implement features that track progress and provide encouraging feedback. Measure the frequency of user interactions before and after implementation. Find out if users feel more confident in achieving their goals with your product after these features are added. 

Another of Getup’s feature concepts also focused on making consumers feel more comfortable with their purchases by trying them on first. Their Push to Store feature was also tested using sentiment analysis to understand the emotions and impressions that this concept elicits from users:

Sentiment Analysis tracks progress and provides encouraging feedback.

This feature’s sentiment analysis went more smoothly, with no negative impressions over 10%, and almost half of participants (49%) feeling pleasantly surprised by the offer.

View the Helio Example

A/B Testing:

To see which version yields better user engagement, use A/B testing for different behavior change techniques.Follow up with a survey to understand why users preferred one version.

Multivariate testing pits multiple design versions against each other by sending each to a different segment of participants.

We used this on Figma’s homepage to understand how they can spark more engagement with different copy tweaks to their headlines:

Use A/B testing for different behavior change techniques.

The ‘Now you can…’ headline variation proved more effective than Figma’s current homepage header, by reducing users’ time to comprehension by almost 20 seconds and improving positive impressions by 21% overall.

View the Helio Example

By leveraging Helio, you gain access to qualitative and quantitative data that can inform each step of your behavior change strategy. The insights gleaned from this tool enable you to create a nuanced approach that speaks directly to your customers’ motivations, perceptions, and preferences, increasing the likelihood of successful and sustained behavioral change.

Unleashing Behavior Science: Elevating Customer Engagement 

By integrating behavioral change techniques with a deep understanding of customer behaviors, businesses can craft experiences that meet and exceed user expectations, increasing satisfaction and loyalty to their products. This blog post serves as a guide to harnessing the power of behavior science in service design and product development, propelling businesses toward greater success in their customer engagement strategies.

What is the importance of understanding customer behavior in business?
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Understanding customer behavior is crucial because it helps create a deeper connection with the audience, tailor experiences to user expectations, and drive business success by fostering loyalty and satisfaction.

Why is behavioral change among customers often challenging?
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Customers typically resist changes to their behavior unless there’s a clear and substantial benefit. Incremental improvements are not usually compelling enough to shift habits, making it difficult and costly for businesses to promote new behaviors.

What are Behavioral Change Techniques (BCTs)?
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BCTs are systematic processes aimed at influencing individual behavior changes. In a business context, they encourage the adoption of new products or services by understanding customer needs and strategically guiding them towards desired actions.

What role does UX research play in supporting behavioral change?
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UX research is essential in understanding the customer’s environment, needs, and challenges. It helps businesses select the appropriate behavioral change techniques by providing a scientific basis for understanding why customers behave the way they do.

How does product discovery contribute to behavioral change?
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Product discovery identifies the potential for new products or features and aligns them with user expectations and barriers to change. It works alongside UX research to tailor development strategies that encourage behavioral change.

What are some steps to apply Behavioral Change Techniques effectively?
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To apply BCTs effectively, businesses should set clear objectives, provide feedback and monitoring, enhance social support, educate customers, identify barriers and facilitators, use rewards and threats appropriately, and consider customer identity and self-belief.

How can Helio support the application of behavioral change techniques?
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Helio is a tool that can provide real-time feedback and data-driven guidance through surveys and testing. It can help set clear objectives, monitor user satisfactory behavior change, identify obstacles to behavioral change, and test different reward scenarios.

Helio can monitor user interaction without behavior change techniques to establish a baseline for comparison and survey users about their habits, preferences, and challenges with a product.

What is the benefit of integrating behavioral change techniques with customer behavior knowledge?
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Integrating these techniques with a deep understanding of customer behavior allows businesses to create experiences exceeding user expectations, increasing satisfaction and loyalty. It serves as a strategic advantage in customer engagement and product development.

Build something your users truly want