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Customer Focus: First Rule of Scientific Content Management

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The science of content management begins with a deep understanding of your customer. The Web is more likely to push your customer away than to bring them closer.

The Web creates a wall between you and your customers. You cannot see them, you cannot hear them, you cannot empathize with them. At best, you get some cold, hard statistics about what they did when on your site.

Most web teams I meet are incredibly cut off from their customers. More worryingly, such teams rarely recognize how important it is to have regular interaction with their customers.

Your website is there to serve your customers. Everything must revolve around your customers. They must come first. If you don’t put your customers at the very center of everything you do, your website will fail.

Imagine if you managed a shop. Do you think you could manage that shop from 50 miles away by just looking at the statistics that were delivered from daily operations? Do you think you could know what your customers wanted from your shop without constantly observing and talking to them?

Imagine you are standing in your shop. It’s raining. A number of your customers are slipping as they enter. The mat is old and worn. What are you going to do? You’re going to change that mat, aren’t you? But people are slipping on your website every day. Because you don’t see them slip, you don’t see the problem. (When they slip, many of them reach for the Back button.)

It may be the Web, it may be computers, it may be technology, but it is still human beings who use the Web. Technology does not answer all the questions about your customers. Technology does not replace the need for good, old-fashioned human-to-human interaction.

Wal-Mart has embraced technology more than most companies. However, it has never lost sight of the need for a deep understanding of the customer. The more it has focused on self-service, the more Wal-Mart has realized that its management must-as its primary duty-be out with its customers.

“I never viewed computers as anything other than a necessary overhead. A computer is not-and will never be-a substitute for getting out in your stores and learning what’s going on,” Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, wrote in Made In America. “In other words, a computer can tell you down to the last dime what you’ve sold. But it can never tell you how much you could have sold.

“That’s why we at Wal-Mart are just absolute fanatics about our managers and buyers getting off their chairs here in Bentonville and getting out into those stores.”

If you manage a website, being with your customers is not a luxury. It is the foundation upon which web success is built. Others on the team may well focus on the code, but unless management focuses on the customer, the end-result will always be inferior.

Wal-Mart managers spend at least three days a week out at the stores. A web manager for an intranet should be spending at least three days a week with staff. A web manager for a government website should be spending at least three days a week with citizens. A university web manager should be spending at least three days a week with students. What else is more important?

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

Subscribe to his New Thinking Newsletter: subscribe@gerrymcgovern.mailer1.net

Customer Focus: First Rule of Scientific Content Management
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