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Think the Way Your Customer Thinks

by Gerry McGovern  |  
September 23, 2003

One of the biggest challenges an organization faces is to stop thinking it's the center of the universe.

Customers think that they are the center of the universe. Customers come to your Web site to get their needs fulfilled. They will think you are great only if you meet their needs efficiently and cost-effectively.

Here's an example: I'm in the market for a new laptop. I know in America it's sometimes called a notebook. But what if I didn't know that? Organizations are always making assumptions about what their customers know.

Look at the many university Web sites that have a “Prospective Students” classification. I heard that a survey recently found that students thinking of going to university didn't relate to this classification. The university response: “That's what we've always called them.”

Repeat after me: “What you call your customer is irrelevant.”

It's the way your customer sees the world that matters.

On the Web, you've got to think the way your customer thinks. You've got to use the words—and it's all about words on the Web—that your customer uses.

Anyway, I considered buying a Dell laptop. Dell has good products but has given me awful service lately.

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Gerry McGovern ( is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.

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