The 100th Monkey Effect in Customer Experience Transformation
What is 100th Monkey Effect
The 100th Monkey Effect is a hypothetical phenomenon in which a new behavior or idea is spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea.
The story is based on research with monkeys on a northern Japanese Island, and its central idea is that when enough individuals in a population adopt a new idea or behavior, there occurs an ideological breakthrough that allows this new awareness to be communicated directly from mind to mind without the connection of external experience and then all individuals in the population spontaneously adopt it. “It may be that when enough of us hold something to be true, it becomes true for everyone.”.
The Story Behind It
The research dates to 1952, when a team of scientists began observing a colony of macaque monkeys on the Northern Japanese island of Koshima. In one experiment, the scientists threw some peeled sweet potatoes in the sand. Monkeys love sweet potatoes but obviously not covered in sand that gets between their teeth. One of the females in the group named Imo, was the first to start washing the potatoes in a stream before eating them. Her family watched on, curiously, then followed suit. Imo was an 18-month-old young monkey. Soon, relatives acquired this skill, and eventually so did the other monkeys on the island. After a while, the number of ingenious monkeys reached what is called a critical mass.
Practicality and Value
From a customer experience management perspective, the critical mass theory or the hundredth monkey effect can be used to make sure that your messages and actions are heard, understood, and reciprocated as an organization. The key to achieving a critical mass is to have a compelling vision and narrative that focuses on both what you say, and how you say it. The theory can also be applied to almost every sociological change – big or small.
In order to reach the critical mass, you need to have a deep understanding of your target audience. You must understand why they are engaged in the behaviour they are involved in. Once you identify the behaviour that keeps them there, the next step is to find motivations that will make it even more compelling for them to make that behaviour change. To do this effectively, you must identify the barriers preventing them from adopting a new behaviour or abandoning an old one.
Behavioural change of any form needs to start small and proceed with baby steps. By breaking the larger task into small steps, we make an impossible behaviour change feel possible.
Choosing Internal Influencers and Early Adopters Within the Organization
Early adopters are those individuals that use new products before most people. They are risk-takers and trendsetters who have a strong influence on the success or failure of an organization.
Organizations must engage the influencers and early adopter to be part of the customer experience transformation team within the organization, as they have the voice and can influence their peers in customer-centricity mindset.
How to Identify These Influencers
These influencers have deep empathy for the users in a certain domain and spends a considerable amount of time to listen, learn, understand, and solve problems in that domain within the organization. Constantly updates knowledge and is an early adopter of new trends. They like to learn new things and a vocal in voicing out their opinions in the best interest of customer and business.
Bring these influencers and early adopters together with the middle management team, train them in the customer experience framework and give the freedom to explore new solutions for the organization.
Train the middle management, early adopters, and internal influencers to get the message across to the entire organization to shift from process and product centric to customer obsessed mindset.
Once you train 100 people in customer experience domain, the entire organization will start to adopt the new mindset.
I have personally tested the 100th Monkey Effect theory in my consulting work and the result is absolutely amazing.
Some of the notable changes are:
- Training department started to become more organized and focused its effort on more customer-centric trainings.
- Marketing department started to listen to customers and designed innovative products to cater the ever-changing needs and wants of their customer.
- Sales team started to be more responsive and focused on aligning their objective to help their client win, instead of only focusing on the numbers.
- I have also seen extensive 5-years strategic management plan where 50% of the strategic planning is about improving customer experience and implementing customer-centric ideas – even if they have never attended any of my workshops and are not part of the CX team. This shows that employees would essentially become focused on their customers.
To conclude this, I truly believe organizations should adopt the 100th Monkey Effect theory to create a customer-centric culture as I am convinced that it works.
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