They’ve Got Personality

Jeff Morris got it absolutely right in his hilarious take on the state of call centers in this issue (p. 20) — confused, harried, and bamboozled by what their customers want, they blunder their way through the most ridiculous gaffes. Although no retailer worth his salt will tell you that he’s not “customer-centric,” the truth is that few merchants have any idea of how to approach customers in a truly interesting way. Forrester Research Inc. suggests a time-honored device: using a “persona” to represent your customer. Try thinking of the typical buyer of your product as a real person — give him or her a name, an occupation, a lifestyle, motivations, and goals. This shouldn’t be an off-the-cuff activity; it deserves to become a formalized part of your strategy. Once you’ve created that persona, adapt your sales channels to suit your character’s needs. According to Forrester analysts, Web site design should be based on who the users are, what their objectives are, and how the retailer can best help them achieve their goals. And given that nearly half of all customer contacts begin with an IVR experience, it may be time to resurrect the telephone.

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