Dan Bennett
Behavioural Science, PR & Influence
Better Your Behavioural Handicap

This piece was originally published on O Behave!, Ogilvy’s home for the latest on behavioural science.

I don’t think I’m letting the corporate cat out of the bag if I let you in on the fact that, as a rule, the larger the business the slower the speed getting from insight to execution.

It’s also no secret that the more experience you have testing your thinking, the more you’ll know about what works and what doesn’t. A successful golfer doesn’t just go swanning off around the course… they dutifully spend time on the driving range first.

I’m lucky to spend a lot of time traveling the world with Ogilvy testing out behavioural science, and whilst on the move we’ll often ‘make our own driving ranges’. We have a nice habit of tweeting ahead at the airport or train station to see who has meaningful behavioural challenges we can contribute to whilst we’re there. Fast impacts for fast learning.

One of my favourite times at the behavioural driving range was working with a struggling chain of independent nurseries.

Commercially, child care in the UK is a struggling area. It relies on its workers going above and beyond to be able offer safe and nurturing environments.

Whilst on some field work we spent a few spare hours with an owner of an independent chain of nurseries in the north of England. The staff were stretched and management had to be so reactive that they did not have the headspace to plan anything beyond the short term. They were working hard but they were hemorrhaging customers by the week and we’re struggling to see why. It was hard to ask parents as they flew in and flew out being extraordinarily busy themselves.

If they could get constructive feedback, they were confident they could turn a corner. One of their proactive initiatives over the past few years was to send out a ‘parent survey’ instead so they could fill it out at their leisure. But again it had a dismal response rate.

It was here we noticed a behavioural science opportunity to strengthen the default to the survey.

Knowing this years survey was due to be sent out we simply changed the name from “Parent Survey” to “Your Annual Feedback Form” to make it seem like the thing to do. Not only did feedback rates more than double as a result of those four words, it was also the start of a domino effect of positive changes. Now they had the feedback they could improve the product and invest in the right places.

So where the nursery had piled all of its cash into organic menus that they thought parents wanted, they now partner with local businesses to provide services that can take the strain out of being a busy parent.

Parents dreaded the morning chaos. The local roads are congested in the morning and beyond dropping off the kids to nursery, they had to get their breakfast, and be on time for work. So the nurseries set to simplify this for parents and offer as many of the morning routine services as possible.

So now you can drop off your child and pick up your favorite coffee for your long car journey to work all in one stop. Take your reusable cup in to nursery in the evening when you pick up your child and it’ll be cleaned and filled with your coffee when you drop off your child in the morning. Bliss.

What’s more, now at these nurseries you can simply drop off your laundry with your child in one go. At least one of them comes back clean at the end of the day. Another load off your mind.

One of the big benefits of this is the halo effect. When the small things go right you start to think the big things do as well.

I was on a flight recently where one of the lights was flickering the entire flight, and it was unnerving to say the least. It’s hard to dissociate the broken bulb with a broken plane. Conversely, if you have a great check-in experience to an airline you kind of think they’ve got the rest of their shit together too.

With the nurseries, fixing the small fixed the big, needless to say it was a great day at the behavioral driving range and we’ll be even stronger on the course as a result of it.

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