Sunday, February 10, 2013

Customer Relationships & Channels

  • Customer Relationships - How You Interact
  • Channels - How They Know You/How You Deliver
This week, I brought in some outside help, Jo! So many of our conversations, particularly around modifying and changing behaviors have overlapped. It's fascinating to think about how some of the concepts we're learning in an MBA program, parallel with the scientific rigor of behavior therapy. Here's our edited and paraphrased conversation.

[Jo enters - stage left]
As a speech-language pathologist, my job is to analyze behavior and break it down into steps to be changed and shaped. This week, I was reading over Aric’s shoulder while he was looking at the Business Model You “Channels” component and I saw the “marketing process,” a series of five questions laying out how to define the conduit of information and products to customers:
  1. How will potential Customers discover how you can help them?
  2. How will they decide whether to buy your services?
  3. How will they buy it?
  4. How will you deliver what Customers buy?
  5. How will you follow-up to make sure Customers are happy?

I immediately thought, “oh, I know this, it’s the ABCs!” Not the alphabet song, mind you, but the chain of events surrounding human behavior that I examine every day: the antecedent (A), behavior (B), and consequence (C) of decisions that people make. These small actions are governed in large part by surprisingly simple rules, rules that are also surprisingly simple to influence.

So, let’s break it down, analyst style. The above questions target three steps in a behavior chain: what happens before the behavior, provoking or preventing its occurrence. This is called the antecedent and includes components of the environment or conditions such as where, when, who is involved.

Then, the behavior itself: the target behavior, it is called, the behavior that you want to change or modify. The crucial aspect of identifying the behavior is creating a definition of the behavior that is observable, measurable and specific.

Finally, what happens after the behavior: the consequence, which can either reinforce or increase the frequency of the behavior or punish and decrease the frequency of the behavior in the future.

Implementing changes in channels, then, becomes a scientific process instead of a guessing game. We manipulate the antecedents – the environment and conditions – and the consequences to change the behavior. Just like the behavior has to be specific, measurable  and observable, so too do the changes. Step back, look at the variables currently influencing behavior. Decide on a small change. Make one change at a time. Observe and record data. Measure outcomes. Repeat and refine as needed. Or, as Gerald J. Langley et al. say in their book The Improvement Guide, Plan-Study-Act-Do. They set out a systematic way to approach system changes that can be universally applied.

Many business problems have already been tackled and analyzed in this way, for example:

Being able to identify the decisions and choices we make can feel overwhelming. That creative tension I mentioned before - is easier to manage, when we can recognize that it's there. I'm reminded also of the LPD discussions around "Big Assumptions" - and how we try to live with them, and not "conquer' them... See you all at intensive! 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Power-couple Blog Post!
    I have blog-envy!
    AND RSAs too!

    The psychology behind consumer behavior reaches into the depths of self-identification, group mentality, and the sense of place. No wonder the evangelical movement has become so popular - they excel at advertising their beliefs and community!

    On the flip side, I love how you bring in the LPD, as we dig into our One Big Thing and the antecedents that dwell underneath.

    Bravo. Aric AND Jo!

  3. Aric,
    Nice work weaving in this other discipline. It brings a new dimension to marketing considerations.

  4. Great post Aric. I wish you had been on the phone today with a member of my team and I discussing customers and channels. I love the video! Thank you.

    1. Wow, Aric. I do love your blogs. As a social worker and as someone who tested very high for occupational therapy on a career test, I appreciate the structure of the ABC's. This is also very similar to cognitive behavioral therapy; a therapy that focuses on our thoughts and how those thoughts specifically impact our behavior. I would often use this framing when working with survivors of domestic violence. Partners or spouses would often minimized, deny or "explain" that the abuser, "...didn't know what he was doing", or "...didn't mean it", to which I would counter and inquire as to whether or not this same individual hit her friends, his friends or other people in their lives. The answer was often no, to which we would dig further and discuss the fact that thoughts and feelings ALWAYS trigger certain behavior. Therefore, abusers are always aware of exactly what it is that they are doing. I also thought about Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink when I read through your blog, as he discusses the many ways in which we go throughout the course of our day without realizing how many choices and decisions we make in the blink of an eye.... but that these choices and decisions come from both the subconscious and conscious recesses of our brains. Fascinating stuff. Finally, I love the cartoon above focusing on blog writing. It's an interdependent relationship, isn't it— in which you have to start SOMEWHERE with your content, but that you are not necessarily going to get very far unless you've built some kind of relationship with your followers and readers? Suppose you could say the same for Twitter...


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