Behavioral Science

How strategically changing behavior created millions in value for these organizations

Dr Divya Sukumar
Four success stories of companies that used nudging to create more value. Nudging began as a small-scale, consumer-oriented marketing strategy, but they are also used by governments and companies to cut costs and drive positive social impacts.

Organizations around the world are increasingly applying behavioral science to improve individual decision-making - whether it’s for their employees, citizens, or customers. While changing people’s behavior can be difficult, relatively small behavioral interventions can effectively motivate individuals to make more optimal decisions in various contexts.

At Signol, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite examples:

1. Opower: Reducing Energy Usage at Home

Opower, the energy efficiency saving tool, was acquired by Oracle in 2016

By sending out cleverly designed communications to households and comparing their energy usage to that of their neighbors, Opower helped consumers realize when they were wasting more energy than their frugal neighbors. As a result, some people started to cut their energy use and save on their utility bills while others maintained their efficient energy use.

To date, Opower has harnessed the influence of social pressure, amongst other tools in behavioral design, to help consumers save an astounding 20 Terawatt-hours or millions of megawatts. To put that in context, in 2008, all the different types of energy that humans used amounted to 16.5 Terawatt-hours. Opower has since been acquired by Oracle for $532 million. Here’s the original and now famous social comparisons research by Schultz’ and colleagues that inspired Opower.

2. Monzo: Helping People Avoid Gambling

Monzo is one of the leading online bank services

The modern, online banking service, Monzo, draws upon simple behavioral interventions to help people save more money. For example, the banking app lets customers switch on a “gambling block” - a 48 hour wait before they can use their card at casinos. This small amount of friction helps customers reconsider their spending choices.

Monzo is actively helping their users with their savings and their gambling block was well received by consumers.

Monzo users that switch on the gambling block demonstrate a 70% reduction in their gambling and as of 2020, almost 223,000 customers have enabled this feature. In light of Monzo’s success, traditional banks such as Barclays, Lloyds, and Santander have followed suit with similar features.

3. West Midlands Police & BIT: Increasing Safe Driving

BIT's redesign of the letter helped the West Midlands Police save lives and money

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) worked with a UK police force to simplify and redesign an existing letter and leaflet sent to drivers with speeding offenses. The new leaflet focused on why speed limits exist and the real dangers of breaking them. These small tweaks in communications led to a 20% reduction in reoffending and greater penalty payments.

In addition to saving lives and reducing injuries from speeding accidents, BIT estimates that their behavioral intervention will save £1.5 million each year for the West Midlands criminal justice system.

4. Bancamía: Achieving Targets Early

Bancamía used reminders and awards to help their officers hit their targets early

Researchers worked with a Colombian bank, Bancamía, to offer their loan officers timely reminders and small, in-kind prizes, such as a movie ticket, to bring in new clients earlier in the month. Officers responded to these behavioral interventions by redistributing their workload and generally improving their productivity, with an uptick of 18% in sourcing new loans during the first two weeks of the month.

5. Virgin Atlantic Airways: Improving Fuel Efficiency

Virgin Atlantic discovered the power of nudges when sending letters to their operators.
Virgin Atlantic discovered the power of nudges by sending letters to their operators

Partnering with our very own co-founder, Rob Metcalfe, and his research colleagues, Virgin Atlantic sent personalized feedback and goals to their highly trained and experienced captains once a month in the post. By nudging captains to make more fuel-efficient decisions, when possible, Virgin Atlantic saved $6.1 million in fuel costs and 24,000 tons of CO2 in just 8 months. Our white paper describes the study in more detail.

So, how could behavior change benefit your company?

Signol began in aviation, but we are adapting our platform to tackle other high-emissions industries, including shipping and road transport. Our behavioral science techniques shine light on the human aspect of operational decision-making and help companies address the dual challenge of high operating costs and high greenhouse gas emissions. Find out what we can do for you.

About Signol

Signol is a software platform that draws on insights from behavioral economics to encourage employees to make more efficient decisions. Signol provides personalized feedback through multiple communication channels, as well as data analysis for managers. In aviation, Signol aims to use behavioral "nudges" and incentives to reduce pollution and fuel waste and cut operating costs.

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