To manage services on the web, manage customer tasks

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In this issue


May 18-22, 2008 Semantic Technology conference, San Jose, CA, USA
May 27, 2008 Free Gerry McGovern webinar – Customer Carewords for Intranets, 10am EDT
June 16-20, 2008 Usability Professionals Association conference, Baltimore, MD, USA

To manage services on the web, manage customer tasks

We have seen companies and government departments move away from thinking of themselves as information-providers, to thinking of themselves more as service-providers. They view the Web as a channel for service provision, rather than a repository for information.

Service organizations of every kind (profit-oriented or otherwise) need to have very clear business goals – definitions of the intended impact of their services – with performance targets for achieving those goals. Business goals always require changes to take place out there in the ‘real’ world – for example, people adopting a more healthy life-style, people buying your products. It is these changes in the world – often changes in behaviour – that need to be measured to understand the impact of a service.

Service usage depends on understanding and managing for your customers’ behaviour. What makes people come to your website and buy your product, or decide to change some aspect of their lifestyle? People who use services come with very clear goals; they don’t drift onto the web accidentally, or with vague intentions. The web is an extremely task-focused environment for service interactions; ‘browsing’ in no way captures the impatient, give-it-to-me-now demands we make of websites. Task-focused web content is therefore not just a “nice to have”, it is a ‘must-provide’. Website management needs to become management of your customers’ tasks.

People buying a product must carry out specific tasks; they need to find out how a product meets their needs, to compare it with other products, to read case studies and to see reviews, maybe even to try out one or more products. People thinking about making a change in their lifestyle have similar tasks; discovering what options they might consider, evaluating how easy or difficult each will be and how they will fit into their activities, hearing others’ experiences and opinions, etc. These are the kinds of tasks you need to support. You must ensure that your website’s visitors carry out these tasks successfully and efficiently.

The step towards a service orientation is a positive one. But even service thinking can be internally-focused. The challenge is to focus not on the service as such, but on its outcomes, on its performance against targets, and on the customer behaviour – especially on-task behaviour – that drives both service usage and the outcomes.

To focus your task management strategy, discover the ‘long neck’ of your customer tasks – the small handful of frequent, priority customer tasks – and, through measurement of behaviour and continual improvement, ensure your organization excels at supporting those tasks.

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Free Gerry McGoven webinar – Customer Carewords for Intranets
May 27, 2008

Are you running an Intranet for thousands of people in a large organization? Hear Gerry McGovern share his discoveries on how you can increase productivity and reduce costs by identifying and better managing your employees’ top tasks.

This FREE Customer Carewords webinar takes place on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 10-11am EDT.

1. Register
Register at: –

2. Receive confirmation email
All information, including telephone numbers (standard long-distance rate) and access codes, is provided in a confirmation email. The email also allows you to add the webinar to an Outlook calendar, automatically adjusted to your time zone.

3. Join the webinar – click the link and dial the number
You will join the conference call in listen-only mode and you can communicate with the presenters using the Question and Answer feature.

To attend the webinar, you will need:

  • Internet Explorer 5.0 or later, Netscape Navigator 6.0 or later or Mozilla Firefox 1.0 or later
  • Windows 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server or Vista
  • Stable 56k, cable modem, ISDN, DSL or better Internet connection
  • Minimum of Pentium 400 with 256 MB of RAM (Recommended)
  • Java Virtual Machine enabled (Recommended)
  • A telephone line for the conference audio

PLEASE NOTE: If this is your first GoToWebinar, please ensure that you have admin rights to install the free GoToMeeting plugin. You may need to set this up with your IT department.

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Top messages to senior managers, from Masterclass attendees

At Gerry McGovern’s Masterclass in Ottawa, May 5-6, 2008, attendees were asked to come up with the top messages that senior managers should hear. Having done this, Gerry grouped the messages. Here’s the end result – the top messages to senior managers. Through an informal voting process (you had to be there!), attendees also picked the top 3.

You might indeed communicate them to your senior managers. Or maybe to your staff or colleagues. You might use them as the agenda of a web strategy meeting: “Let’s talk about how well we are doing on each of these factors”. Or you might use them to derive your website performance measures, or to prioritize your project activities and resources. Use them as you see fit!

Top 3 messages to senior managers

  1. Delete outdated/irrelevant content, and implement an ongoing review strategy
  2. Focus on what people are trying to accomplish on the website
  3. Focus on the customer task, not the politics

The full list of messages for senior managers:

Task focus

  • Focus more on converting traffic
  • Focus on what people are trying to accomplish on the website
  • More interactive, less information-based
  • Focus on the customer task, not the politics
  • Try completing a task (e.g. find something) on your own website

Content management

  • Delete outdated/irrelevant content, and implement an ongoing review strategy
  • De-clutter the homepage—simplify homepage based on metrics
  • Communication on web: stop writing for media, start writing for customer
  • Mercenary thinking around content—be ruthless and lean
  • Speak the language of the customer—less jargon
  • Ask customers what they want—then give it to them
  • Stop focusing on the pretty
  • Less “we-we” content on the website (i.e. Use fewer sentences starting with ‘we’ in your web content)

Management and strategy

  • Be proactive with the Web—bring the Web in at the beginning of a project—stop making the Web an afterthought
  • Have on board an Executive with web experience who can develop a common web strategy
  • Trust your professionals—employee empowerment
  • Think of the Web as an ongoing process, not a project
  • Concentrate resources on identified customer needs—no new projects
  • Set realistic timelines
  • Develop a clear organizational chart for the Web
  • Stop jumping on bandwagons—fix the basics

Customer Focus

  • Make decisions based on customer behaviour research, rather than opinion; evidence-based not opinion-based
  • Focus on our customers, not politics
  • Bring customer research in at very beginning of project
  • Stop trying to be everything for everyone—be realistic
  • Act on customer testing—give proper time and resources to this.
  • Identify our customers and ask them their needs
  • Update regulations to allow greater customer engagement

Search management

  • Budget: less marketing, more search engine optimization
  • Develop a organization-wide search web strategy

Quote of the month

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. ”

Jerome K Jerome, Three men in a boat

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