The National Trust has received much of the attention on the subject of historic links to slavery, however a number of our other clients in the attractions sector have also sought to re-evaluate how they talk about it.
A key concern from our clients is the impact any reinterpretation will have on attraction visitor numbers.
Some worry that by drawing attention to the negative side of a place’s history, there is a danger that the ‘idealistic traditionalist’ may decide not to visit.
But others argue that the public’s understanding of how historic sites relate to slavery has shifted. There is an expectation that interpretation conveys the full history of a venue (warts an’ all). By doing nothing, they will be providing a sanitised version of what happened, which will lead to a less fulfilling visitor experience. This will also mean people will decide not to visit.
As individuals, our team has fairly developed opinions on the subject – the excellent Story of our Times podcast on Penrhyn Castle will give you a clue as to mine.
But as consultants who work in the sector, we seek to understand the objective truth, so we put the question to the general public.
We asked a nationally representative sample of the U.K. public (sample size of 1,750) the following question:
In the last couple of years, organisations such as The National Trust have started to examine the links their properties have with colonialism and historic slavery. In cases where slavery has played a large role in the site’s history, how much do you agree or disagree these organisations should include information about their links to slavery as part of their on-site interpretation?
The key finding was that the majority of the population (55%) supported information about links to slavery being included in the interpretation. Perhaps more importantly, only a small minority of 15% opposed it. 30% had no firm opinion either way.
Notably, although support for this sort of interpretation falls as people get older, it remains significantly higher than opposition for every single age group. Arguments that there is a huge cultural divide by age are largely unfounded.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is majority support across all ethnic groups, with agreement increasing to 7 in 10 UK residents of black ethnicity. For sites that champion an inclusive agenda (which is every historic attraction we work with), this figure may be enough motivation to update interpretation in itself.
We tried in vain to find an audience that is more likely to oppose, but such was the support for the suggestion, we were unsuccessful. The closest we came was amongst ‘anti-vaxxers’. But even amongst this ‘counter-cultural’ audience, support was higher than opposition – 39% to 27%.
A few words about the minority
This is a complex subject with many layers and nuances, and we don’t expect this one question to provide meaningful recommendations. But we hope it demonstrates that – despite what some tabloids may say – opposition to including links to slavery is only held amongst a minority of the general public.
However, we mustn’t forget this minority either. Although 15% is relatively small, no venue would want to lose this amount of visitors. With any additional interpretation on slavery, this minority will want to be reassured that their ‘traditional visit’ is protected and that extra interpretation adds depth rather than takes anything away.
Our wider research on brand purpose suggests that one possible objection from these detractors is that places are responding to a ‘woke’ political agenda. So it’s important that interpretation is clearly supported by robust source material too.
Traditionally, banks have acted as the facilitators of finance and transactions, resting on a solid footing of traditional values, trust, and history. These values were built at brick-and-mortar stores through personal relationships and brand loyalty that started when we were children. Fast forward to today, the digitalisation of retail banking means that customers can switch to a more appealing offer more efficiently than ever.
In the digital age, banks are striving to foster customer loyalty by creating value that can replace the in-person elements of banks’ value proposition of years passed. Part of this shift involves streamlining and unlocking data that can create engagement. Engagement is typically conceptualised as having two components: the extent of usage (e.g., frequency, duration) and the subjective experience (e.g., interest, appeal, and attention). When deployed effectively, behavioural science can help increase the stickiness of digital banking tools by strengthening consumers’ habitual use.
Here are four behavioural science principles that are proven to improve customer engagement with digital products.
Hyper personalisation and contextual banking
Successful digital banking products of the future will provide a contextualised banking experience tailored to individual users based on a variety of information like location, time of day, personal preferences, money habits, and behavioural patterns. Contextual banking is based on the behavioural science principle of Just-In-Time-Adaptive-Intervention (JITAI). It delivers pertinent information to customers where and when they need it based on data analytics and intelligent algorithms. For example, an app might send a notification based on the user’s location or the time of day based on their previous behaviours in those contexts.
Goal setting and behavioural monitoring
These are two of the most effective behaviour change techniques (BCTs) for digital tool creators. While it’s common for banks to include some elements of goal setting and behavioural monitoring within Personal Financial Management Tools, this will become increasingly common and sophisticated as part of the new world value that banks create for their customers. Goal setting is strongly linked to increasing motivation but also usage engagement by encouraging users to log in and continually check their progress. In the future, these BCTs will become far more personalised and targeted using open data frameworks. Banks are not yet ready to utilise all the data that is available to them, but many are testing and trying new things.
Refers to the inclusion of game-like elements like point scoring, rewards, and rules in non-game contexts, to promote user engagement with products. In Australia, the CX-focused and digital-only brand Up leans heavily on gamification to encourage a positive emotional connection with customers. Their ‘Save Up 1000 Challenge’ combines gamification, goal setting, and behavioural self-monitoring in a robust and engaging offer.
Key trends in digital banking tend to support customers to self-manage their wealth and money. Therefore, retail banks will grow as agents of empowerment, helping individuals set financial goals (BCT: goal setting), track their progress towards them, and develop positive money habits and financial literacy. This will become a central element of banks’ offers, with new value created for the customer.
How to get started
The first step towards designing a behaviourally informed solution or feature is to define your behavioural challenge. We recommend that clients start with an understanding of the user’s job to be done (JTBD). This involves studying what customers are trying to accomplish rather than what they are saying they want, especially in areas with insufficient solutions, as these often make for great opportunities for innovation that gets to the heart of the job to be done.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford
JTBD is best reduced to its simplest parts while taking a zoomed-out view. Consider using a sentence framework that considers customers’ JTBD in terms of its verb, object, and context. The job to be done should focus on the end goal, not the task at hand.
“Save $60,000 for a house deposit in a rates driven market” rather than “open a new high interest saving account”
Prioritise opportunities to tackle those JTBD. While many opportunities can be available, it is essential to identify the highest value ones for your brand. What aligns most with your values and current product strengths?