88% of Lost Wallets Containing Baby Photos Get Returned. How To Use That Fact to Boost Business

Two-hundred forty wallets were planted by University of Hertfordshire psychologists in Edinburgh,  Scotland because they wanted to understand if the contents made people return a wallet.

Brilliant and so intriguing.

So, the psychologists planted wallets including pictures of  either a baby, a family, an elderly couple, or a dog throughout their city.

In total, 42% of the wallets were returned. But what is intriguing is that based on the contents, the rate of return varied:

  • 88% of wallets with baby photos were returned.
  • 54% of wallets with dog photos were returned.
  • 48% of family photo portraits were returned.

So, what does this have to do with business?  Well, here it is: It’s about being human and knowing your customers and their lives.  What we can surmise from this experiment is that somehow the baby photos emotionally connect with people who stumble upon these wallets to return them to their owners. Maybe they imagine the baby or think about their own kids.

We need to figure out a way to get this same type of emotional reaction with our company executives and middle of the organization about our customers and their lives.  The rub is that we talk about customers as though they are widgets on a spreadsheet.

What about if instead, we identify 10-20 (it really doesn’t take a ton of profiles to do this) customers who leave our company every month.  Then create a profile on them. What’s important to them? What did they buy? What kind of business do they own or belong to?  Call them up and find out why they left, what they need, and what they wish they had gotten from you.  If you can, record those calls.  Then play them back.  Have their voices or the transcript of their calls scroll across your company computer screens.  In short, humanize customers.  Make people feel a connection to who they are as people.

Every month, do your own version of revealing the baby picture in the wallet.  Except reveal the lives of 10-20 customers your company drove out the door.

The companies that are beloved are passionately in pain about the fact that some of their actions are driving customers away.  They take the fact that customers leave them personally.  I’m convinced it’s that passionate inconsolable sense of loss that keeps these companies working so hard that they keep getting better and better … and more beloved and prosperous.

Let me know what you think, will you?  Does it make sense that we need to stop thinking of customers as “retention rates” and “churn” and start knowing about the people’s lives we disrupted and drove away with our lousy experiences?  Moving folks from talk to action, that’s the name of the game.

Let me know if you think this might help you.


1 comment to " 88% of Lost Wallets Containing Baby Photos Get Returned. How To Use That Fact to Boost Business "

  • Hi Jeanne The stats would have been very different in Aberdeen !! Looking forward to catching up. Kevin the Amazing Service Guy looks interesting. I do love the message that the “baby in the wallet” story conveys. Do you have a link to the full study report ?

Leave a Comment