The Power of a Favor

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jared Sandberg wrote that “simply asking people to fill out a questionnaire in New York’s Penn Station resulted in a 57% compliance.  But prefacing that question with the phrase, “Can you do me a favor?” followed by a pause pushed the level of compliance to 84%.”  Frank Flynn, the associate professor at Stanford who conducted this research, said that when asked to do a favor, “People have a modal, rote response–Yeah, sure, what is it?”

This tells me that if I want my customers to write a testimonial, fill out a satisfaction survey, provide feedback, or consider another product or service for purchase, I need to explicitly ask them to do me a favor–and wait for the inevitable answer, “Yeah, sure, what is it?”  Then I’ve got them!

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