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Behavioural science and analytics: Designing services for real world behaviour

The science of human behaviour is core to designing services which deliver outcomes – for users, for staff and for the bottom line – to which the public and private sectors aspire. People are not as rational as we once thought. Applying behavioural science takes the guess work out of influencing your customers.

In recent years, the successful application of 'nudges' at service pinch points has demonstrated the value of designing citizen and customer interactions around real-world human behaviour. People are 9 percentage points more likely to pay their overdue car tax if a reminder letter includes an image of the vehicle. Asking people writing their wills if there are any causes they are passionate about, while mentioning that many people like to leave money to charity in their will, increases the number who leave a legacy gift by 10 percentage points. Minimising requests for personal information on the Delta Airlines website page, along with other minor presentational changes, increased the conversion rate from searching to booking by 5 percentage points. Both the Cabinet Office and now the White House have dedicated teams to service the appetite for “behavioural insights” in the public sector.

Applying behavioural science at a system-level offers even greater potential benefits for customers, citizens, and clients. We can not only ensure that each user interaction is optimally configured (e.g. reminding people to pay an overdue fine with a personalised text message doubles payment rates and reduces the need for bailiff interventions) but actually ground the design of entire services in “what works” (e.g. an evidence-based theory of fine compliance behaviours at different stages of the customer journey).

Organisations at the leading edge of applied behavioural science are doing something quite unique - they are integrating a scientific approach to behaviour with a commitment to data-driven decision-making. Really gearing your business around customer behaviour requires rising to an interdisciplinary challenge, harnessing the combined expertise of cognitive and social psychologists, behavioural economists, and statisticians.

At Capita we’re using cutting-edge behavioural theories and empirical results to construct a service blueprint; sophisticated behavioural segmentation to ensure it reflects the behavioural characteristics of all users; advanced predictive analytics to prioritise user groups for additional behaviourally-tailored service features; and agile experimental methods to rapidly test and scale up promising innovations.

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