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Is Your Web Site Customer-Centric?

By Carole Pivarnik, Copyright (c) 2000.

Whether they come to buy, learn, download, or for any other reason, every Web site visitor is a potential customer. As a Web site owner, your job is to keep those customers coming back time and again. To do that, your site needs to be customer- centric.

What Does "Customer-Centric" Mean?

"Customer-centric" means creating a Web site that is centered around customer wants and needs. Savvy businesses are realizing that focusing their site on customer benefits and ensuring its visitors a unique experience are key drivers of sales, loyalty, and much-desired word-of-mouth advertising.

By proactively considering the needs, wants, and beneficial preferences of your customers, you can make more effective decisions about the content, offerings, design, and processes available on your site.

The Customer-Centric Quiz

Take a hard look at your Web site and ask yourself the following questions to see how it measures up to customer-centric ideals.

Does your home page describe how customers will benefit from your content, your products, or your services? If they can't figure out what's in it for them, visitors aren't likely to stick around.

Is contact information always just one click away? Don't make visitors work too hard to reach you. They might not bother, and you could miss out on important contacts.

Is your site content clearly organized and easily navigable? People don't have time to decode silly names, wade through a confusing maze of information, or remember where they last saw a link to some other part of your site. Organize your pages into plainly-named categories, provide links to every category on every page, and place those links in consistent locations.

Is your original content free of spelling and grammar mistakes? Nothing is more annoying than having to trudge through content riddled with misspelled words, poorly written sentences, and misused homonyms (their, there, and they're, for example). Nothing will seal your fate as an amateur more than poor writing. If you aren't sure about your abilities, get a knowledgeable person to review and correct the content you create. Also, consider taking courses or reading books that will help you improve your writing skills.

Do your provide a way for customers to give you feedback on products, services, or your site itself? You should always be interested in what your customers have to say. If you avoid their opinions, you're likely to end up with products and services they don't want. So, give them a feedback form, conduct surveys, or invite opinions so they can tell you what they think.

Does your site make it easy for the customer to get what they want? If it's too complicated to download a file, order a product, or find information, customers will simply click over to another site where it's easier. Reduce to the bare minimum the amount of information you require from a customer, as well as the number of steps needed to complete any process.

Does your site make it easy for customers to get support online? One trade magazine recently referred to customer service as the Web's new killer app. A customer-centric site will give customer service a starring role. At a minimum, customers need an email address or phone number where they can reach you. In-depth, well-written FAQs can help reduce the need for one-on-one support by providing answers to the most common questions. Interactive problem-reporting databases can automate the documentation and tracking of issues that need attention.


Success is all about meeting a need better than anyone else. By focusing every element of your Web site on meeting customer needs, you're much more likely to become and remain a preferred provider in the vast, competitive Web marketplace.

About the Author:

Carole Pivarnik manages audience development and affiliate programs for SureCode Technologies, Inc., which offers full- featured, customizable Web databases that plug right into any site with no programming. Email her: carole@surecode.com. Sign up for her free newsletter, Working Web Sites, or learn more about SureCode at http://www.surecode.com.

Tags: E-commerce and Internet



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