Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Nomenclature Problem (or "What's in a name?")

Someone walks into your store. They say hello, poke around the racks, ask a few questions. Then they walk out.

Now, if I asked you, how would you describe that person?

Customer? Visitor? Yes?

I have been asking this question in preparation for some session for a group of motivated partners and employees in Singapore and Bangalore. As I prepare the presenter slides (not the dense textbook slides the participants get - thank you Garr Reynolds!), I keep correcting the words, typing customer to describe a visitor who is not.

When you and your teams discuss deep topics like conversion rates and transaction abandonment (WAKE UP! NO MEDITATION!) does the group classify non-buying, real people as  customers or visitors?

The label customer should be reserved for those visitors who complete the transaction and provide the revenue/information to the company whose online application they are interacting with. This means that the customer is the visitor who has bought into the entire online application experience.

A visitor becomes a customer only when they are happy with:

  • The Business

  • The Design

  • The Presentation

  • The Delivery


Where in the four areas has your application let the company down before?

If you asked a random visitor why they haven't become a customer, what do you think the typical answer would be right now? Next week? A year from now?

Then ask your parents (or your spouse, if you're brave) to use your application. You must show incredible restraint during this exercise (I suggest a remote operated camera and 6,000 miles of separation) to stop yourself from leaping in and telling them what to do,  shaping their experience and guiding them to your expected and desired outcome.

Can they do it? Would your parents or spouse become a customer?

When you look at your online applications tomorrow, use beginners mind to truly look at what you are doing in the four key areas. If you find yourself shaking your head and saying that this doesn't make sense, put yourself in the visitors' shoes.

You may ask yourself if the application you provide to support your business is truly improving the visitor experience.  What you have a strong chance of finding is that your application is designed for customers at the expense of visitors.

When a visitor doesn't complete the tasks you defined for them to reach the goal of becoming one of your customers, what do you call them?

And do you know what to do next?

1 comment:

  1. [...] was right. Just last week, I talked about how critical it is to convert visitors into customers. Doing this in some businesses doesn’t [...]

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