A surprising moment of persuasion

There are clear principles we can refer to when designing a ‘persuasive’ experience. The way we enact these principles, however, depends upon our imagination and ingenuity. I am always looking for good examples to add to Bunnyfoot’s Design for Persuasion course and recently I found one that surprised me. Not because it is so novel, but because I had been interacting with it for some time without realising what was actually happening.

I often use Skype to call my colleagues in different locations. At the end of every call, Skype invites me to rate the quality of that call (which, so long as my Wi-Fi connection is sufficient, is usually good). As it is just as easy to click on ‘5 stars’ as it is to dismiss the message, I usually comply. I always took this at face value, assuming Skype wanted to monitor their service performance. And perhaps they are genuinely interested in this feedback. But it suddenly dawned on me that it is just as likely to be a clever persuasion technique. Think about it. At the end of every call, Skype gives me an opportunity to affirm to myself that they are providing me a 5-star service.

I was surprised that I hadn’t spotted this earlier, as it is another iteration of an example that we already give in the Persuasion course, taken from the airline industry. At the end of a flight, you’ll often hear the flight attendant thanking you for choosing their airline from the range of options. They do this not just to be polite, but to further embed the idea that you had a choice and you chose them. This makes it that bit more likely you will choose them again next time because people like to be consistent with commitments they have already made.

At the end of a customer experience, ask people to rate that experience. If they rate it positively, this will become part of their story of who they are: ‘I am someone who enjoys using this service.’ Most of us have an internal story of who we are, or many internal stories. ‘I am a party animal,’ or ‘I am an eco-friendly person,’ and so on. Once formed, we try to be consistent towards these stories, or personas. This is relevant to design for persuasion because people take action if that persona is activated. In other words, reminding people of the commitment they already have toward a persona is a great way of nudging them to proceed in a direction that seems consistent with it. ‘I love the environment so… I’ll give to WWF.’ ‘I think Skype is an excellent service so… I’ll use it again!’

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