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This business concept may finally make New Year Resolutions work for you

When pictures in our social media newsfeed change from people around tables with food and drinks to advertisements of exercises and weight loss programs, we know Christmas has passed and the New Year (Resolution) is coming. We also know that 80% of New Year Resolutions fail. Why is that and what can we do about it? A concept from business analytics might help.

If you are in business, you know about customer satisfaction and how hard it is to achieve? If you are human, you know how about adopting good habits and how hard they are to maintain? In both cases, you know the benefits - big wealth and good health. Getting there is far from easy. And now we have a common explanation why and what do to about it.

The key is hidden in a well-known business analytics concept. It visualises the relationship between customer satisfaction and profitability. But here is the catch. As it turns out there is a VAST difference between the perception of people and the reality how high customer satisfaction is achieved. Same difference in Perception vs. Reality is the Achilles Heel* when it comes to people's desire to self-improve - to eat healthier, lose excess weight or learn a new skill.

On the graph below you can see how managers perceive the relation between customer satisfaction and profitability. The belief is that the more you improve customer satisfaction, the higher the profits will be.

Reality, as research shows, it quite different. The correlation is generally positive, but the key is: it is not a straight line. In fact, most of the time it is flat. This means that the incremental increase of client satisfaction does not lead to tangible increase in profitability. Yet, if you stop doing the incremental improvements, you can never achieve the highly profitable zone of delight.

As seen on the graph if you start with a highly dissatisfied group of clients and you make some efforts, people will quickly appreciate the improvements and this will result in higher profits. But then comes the BIG zone of small and incremental improvements . In this zone profitability is either flat or grows in very small steps.This is the area where most companies stay in. Only a few (the most successful ones) make the additional efforts to achieve the zone of delight where again profitability sharply rises with the improvements in customer satisfaction.

The same concept applied to our desires for personal improvement and good habits looks like this: Perception vs. Reality

Imagine you want to learn a new language. Your perception is that while you learn, you will constantly experience visible improvement in results. In reality, similar to the customer satisfaction and profits case, you will start with quick results that will motivate you. But then you go into a wiiiiiiiiiide zone of studying without seeing any tangible improvement in results. And only after a long period of consistent efforts, again we can see an exponential growth of results in comparisons with the effort.

And this is exactly where we all go wrong with New Year Resolutions - we just give up too early because we do not see the improvements as quickly as we see them at the beginning.

In both customer satisfaction and adopting a good new habit, consistency during the the zone of small improvements is the key. This zone is the Achilles Heel of the model. This is where we go wrong… we just quit in the middle. The reason we usually state: I don’t see results so I don’t have motivation to go further. And we start all over from scratch - a new project, a new habit, a new program to improve our company.

It turns out we can address this by busting another myth - the myth of motivation. Both in work and in life we usually say: “I need more motivation to do this, I need some incentive”. We are wrong, according to numerous researches quoted by Jeff Haden, writer, speaker and LinkedIn Influencer. In his best-selling book The Myth of Motivation he explains how the sequence IS NOT Motivation ——> Action -----> Results, but the other way around:

It is Action that leads to increase in Motivation and to improvement of Results.

If you happen to be a Bulgarian, you know this from our ancestors who said: “Appetite comes with eating”. The wise Bulgarians knew - it is the action (eating) that leads to the increase in motivation (appetite). First you act, and out of your action, motivation follows.

Consistency and persistency are the armoury for the Achilles Heel - both on customer satisfaction and on efforts in self improvement. Only with consistency and persistency we can cross the flat results zone and reach the zone of delight - both for our customers, but also - for the better version of ourselves.

Victory Corners 2020, by Viktoriya V. Blazheva

Reference: The business model quoted in the text is has been adapted from the Wharton School's Business Analytics certification program, delivered via Coursera.


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