Blog | August 3, 2016

Do You Know Your Customer's Internal Trigger?

John Oncea

By John Oncea, Digital Editorial Director

Customers' Internal Trigger

Using the Hook Model, you can create customer habits which could lead to supercharged growth, higher customer lifetime value, and increased defensibility against competitors who prey on your customers.

Check your phone lately? You probably don’t realize how often you do, but research shows the average person checks emails, Twitter, and Facebook anywhere from 85 to 150 times a day. Why do we spend so much time looking at our phones? According to public speaker and consultant Nir Eyal, we are victims of the purposely cultivated design of habit forming products which result in unprompted user engagement.

Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, shared his theory and how it can be applied to the channel during his Entrepreneurs Lunch Keynote, Creating Habit-Forming Products, held on the second day of CompTIA’s ChannelCon 2016 in Hollywood, FL.

A Hard Habit To Break
So, why do certain products make us engage out of sheer habit? Eyal answered that question by explaining the Hook Model — a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior.

“We are on the precipice of an age when we can use habits for good,” Eyal said. “But what does it take to form a new habit? First, the behavior has to occur with frequency — the more frequently is occurs, the more likely it is to become a habit. Second, there needs to be a change in attitude.”

Creating habits resulting in brand loyalty are important for any business as they result in products having a higher customer lifetime value, give companies greater flexibility to increase prices, supercharge growth, and increase defensibility. However, creating habits is hard and, as Eyal said, “There is no 11th commandment that says the best product wins.

“A design pattern must be created to help form better product hypotheses. Building is expensive, if you can figure out what to build next you increase the odds of success. You need to base decisions on what to build next on research that reveals what consumers want, and you can use the Hook Model to accomplish this.”

You’ve Been Hooked
Eyal’s Hook Model is made up of four parts: trigger, action, reward, and investment. If you can master these steps, you can create a habit-forming product.

There are two types of triggers, external whereby the information for what to do is in the trigger itself and internal, in which the information for what to do is stored as a memory inside a user’s brain. Internal triggers, in particular negative emotions, are the most powerful and being able to identify your customer’s internal triggers is the first step in creating the habits you desire.

Action is defined as the simplest behavior in anticipation of a reward. It ties in a person’s motivation (the energy for action or how much we want to do a particular behavior, i.e. seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, seeking hope, avoiding fear, seeking acceptance, and avoiding rejection) with their ability to act on that behavior (i.e. time, money, physical effort, brain cycles, and social deviance). The level of motivation and ability determines if action will occur and the trigger succeeds with both high motivation and high ability.

Reward starts with the nucleus accumbens which does not stimulate pleasure but activates the stress of desire. In simpler terms, it is the itch we need to scratch. There are three types of variable rewards: tribe (such as social media likes), hunt (variable material rewards, or gambling, and self-achievement (things that are intrinsically pleasurable.

Finally, investment is how to get the user to invest in your product and isn’t always monetary. More often users invest for future benefits such as loading the next trigger or storing value.

The Morality Of Manipulation
Eyal concluded has presentation asking, “What responsibility do we have when creating habits to try and increase business.” He answered his own question, as well as closed his presentation, saying, “Does it help others find meaning? You’re on the right track if you if you harness the power of habit-forming technology to build the change you want to see in the world.”