Online customer - who are they?

Every business has new, existing and preferred customers. For some reason, many companies fail to grasp the importance of addressing those groups differently online. 3 different online customers are:


1. Are not necessarily new online customers, but they're new to your site. Beginners always start by browsing. Remember your first visit to YAHOO or GOOGLE? Rather than using a search features, you browsed the categories, right? That's what a newcomer to a town, school, gym, or job would do, wander around to get a feel for the place.

2. A beginner is a tentative, wondering if he should click the back button just one more time to try another link in the category. A beginner's allegiance is likely to be with the directory that brought him to your web site, not to your company.

3. Most beginners don't give a company much time to make an impression. In a split second, they decide whether the site has something to offer them or not. If they decide to stay, they need some direction. Contrary to popular belief, security is not their number-one concern, comfort is. Making a beginner's first experience engaging and comfortable is harder and more importance than it seems.

Intermediates Customers.
1. Are online customers who've crossed a certain psychological threshold. They've done business with a company once and have decided to return. At that point, the intermediate customer expects the site to reveal more than they saw an their first visit, and might want to participate more as well. She or he might want to contribute a product review or join a discussion group. Although submitting a review may be routine for an expert customer, the first time an intermediate customer reviews a product, they will probably feel a sense of accomplishment and even empowerment.

2. Intermediates are often shy at first. But give an intermediate a chance to listen to an ongoing dialog, and eventually he'll be drawn in by something he cares about and start to contribute. When intermediate explore your company site, will they be able to find people they can relate to - both customers and employees - and have the opportunity to join a discussions.

3. Intermediates want site to adapt them. They want it to respond to their preferences ans still give them the opportunity to explore new areas. They want to be notified of any changes by e-mail, rather than having to return to the site. They are willing to invest the time it takes to understand everything a site has to offer, especially if they have idea that the rewards are worth the effort.

Experts Customers.
1. Come in 3 flavors: junkies, residents and guide. Although they behave differently, they are your most importance customers. They have more leverage and expert pore attention than those below them.

2. A junkie prefers searching to browsing. He knows waht he wants, and he counts the second until he gets it. He likes to come in, buy a sledgehammer or order a cake, and get out. He wants to check his stocks, the weather or the traffic. He's often an information or gadget addict. He wants his virtual 'dashboard' set up just the way he likes it.

3. A resident, on the other hand, is just the opposite. She can spend hours at a site. A resident spends most of her time in conversations or activities with other residents. She is more likely to be an introvert than an extravert. She gravitates toward others with common interest. Perhaps shy at first, she becomes bolder - even outspoken - once she has found a place she can relax and feel at home. Residents respond to humor. They support each others. They empathize, send birthday greetings, write haikus, and answer questions. They love to answer questions. They loved to be recognized. They are usually eager to log on and can often be found online on a Friday night. Residents usually give to a community what they themselves want most in return.

4. A guides (volunteer, community leader, monitor) is usually a resident who has taken on a degree of responsibility within an online community. She provides the adult supervision for the community, carrying on in the same helpful ways they did as a resident but in a more formal capacity. A newcomer to the site can always ask a guide to help.

You can get full articles from this book :
Futurize Your Enterprise - Business Strategy in the Age of the E-Customer
Written by David Siegel - Best author of Creating Killer Web Sites

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