How to ‘nudge’ your customers into doing the right thing

Have you got Covid fatigue?

Unfortunately  many people seem to be suffering from this new condition as we pass the 6 month milestone of the Coronavirus epidemic. In response to this ‘nudging’ is being considered as a possible solution to the problem. Hopefully to help change public health behaviours and to get everyone ‘doing the right thing’.

In the New Scientist (6th May 22020) Graham Lawton discusses that:

‘unless we also factor in the science of human behaviour – how real humans in the real world act and think – our understanding is incomplete and our attempts to defeat the virus will fail.’

Graham Lawton discusses in the New Scientist (6th May 2020) that:

Read more: Can nudge theory really help Covid 19 by changing our behaviour

What is nudging?

In my blog  Does food safety culture matter? I discussed the theory of nudging which is:

The science behind:

‘encouraging people to make decisions that are in their broad self-interest – it is everywhere, once you wake up to it.’ ( 2020)

I related this to helping make sure staff do the right thing. Particularly when they aren’t being watched by a supervisor or manager or during an audit and inspection. However nudge theory can also be used to change customer behaviour and it can be a very successful and powerful tool.

Examples of nudges you could use in your business

  • Pictorial signage of someone wearing a face covering at the entrance
  • Foot print stickers on the floor at 2 meter intervals. This is to guide  customers where they should stand when queuing or waiting
  • Sanitiser at the front door or toilets to encourage customers to use it prior to going in
  • Markers on the floor where tables and chairs should be put to achieve social distancing
  • Arrows on the floor to guide customers via a one way system

Nudges can help change and influence what customers actually do. They can also help you to make your workplace more Covid secure.

Nudges or shoves?

Nuffield Council on Bioethics has produced a ladder of intervention. This  shows the levels of intervention required to change behaviour. More intervention is required the more choice people have. For example if choice is eliminated by closing hospitality businesses then no further action is needed as customers can not go there and they are shoved into doing the right thing

Whereas providing information about 2 metre social distancing to nudge customers into doing this will most likely require some additional intervention . For example by indicating what 2 meters looks like and where to do it by using floor stickers or markers.

(‘Changing behaviours in public health: to nudge or to shove?’ (LGA 2013))

– Do nothing/monitor the situation

-Provide information

-Enable choice

-Guide choice by default

-Guide choice through incentives

-Guide choice through discentives

-Eliminate Choice

Will nudges help stop the spread of Covid?

Nobody knows the answer….but currently the English government seem to be using nudge theory to help stop the spread of the virus. They are encouraging business owners to create Covid secure workplaces and  the public to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands whilst visiting them. But whether more local restrictions are coming where choice is eliminated to make sure people do the right thing, we will have to wait and see………………!

If you need help with Covid Risk assessments or would like further advice. Download a copy of my  Updated Risk Assessment Template .Or sign up for my Q&A package please contact me for an informal discussion on how I can help you Contact me





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