Service Canada broke your bad habit


I went by Service Canada on Tuesday to replace my broken SIN card and was told that the government is replacing the cards with a letter-sized print out instead. I asked why and was told that people often put their SIN cards in their wallets and jeopardize their identity when they lose their wallets.

There could’ve been a dozen ways that could’ve mitigated the problem, but none would be as simple, elegant, and effective as simply changing the size of the document. Service Canada recognized and intercepted an unconscious habit: when given a wallet-sized card, people have a tendency to put it in their wallets without thinking. If a different cue is used — a letter-sized sheet — then it would lead to a different set of actions.

In contrast, Comcast installed bulletproof glass in its lobby to prevent angry customers from going on a rampage in their stores like this lady did. Comcast — if you focus your attention on fixing the root of the problem then you might be able to save a lot of money on installing bulletproof glass.

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