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What's "Random Reinforcement", and Can It Really Improve My Customer Retention Rate?

Let's take the last part of that question first...YES! Absolutely. Random reinforcement is a psychological principle that has been proved scientifically over many decades to change behavior in the direction desired. It's part of the psychology of behavior modification and it's called "conditioning". And as I've said in previous posts, changing customer behavior is what we all strive to do, right? So let's look at an example we can all relate to in order to understand and see how this psychological tool can directly impact #customerretention.

Parents bring home a baby, and of course the baby wakes up during the night, perhaps a few times, and begins to cry. Typically, most parents would prefer to sleep through the night, right? However, they can't ignore the crying and at some point go to the baby to offer either food, comfort, or a combination of both. The baby (think of the baby as YOUR customer now) really just wants attention when he/she is awake though, hungry or not.

Most parents wind up going to the baby either immediately, or after several minutes, or sometimes after 15-20 minutes when they can't take the crying any longer and guilt forces them to do something. What has the baby (your customer) learned? Sometimes I need to cry only for a minute, sometimes for a few minutes, but sometimes I've gotta scream for almost half an hour before I get "rewarded". The parents have inadvertently used a random reinforcement schedule to "teach" the baby that the reward they seek will come, but at random, unpredictable intervals.

Giving your customers rewards at random intervals that they cannot predict has been proved to improve retention significantly, especially when measured against predictable or known reward patterns. Of course #randomreinforcement is much more than just the simple application described above, it also need the "secret sauce" of proper structure, management, execution, and "training" of your customers. And that's where we come in.

Drop me a line or give us a call and let's see if we can use our "secret sauce" of random reinforcement to give your customer retention the boost it deserves.

PS - Bonus tip for parents! If you really want to sleep through the night, the opposite of random reinforcement to shape behavior is extinguishing behavior by ignoring the crying baby. It might take 4,5, or 6 nights, but at the end the baby will have "learned" that no matter how long they cry no reward is forthcoming. It really works...if you can overcome your guilt! And by extention, ignoring your customers is also a quick way to extinguish them!


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