Pick Their Brains

Dig deep and answer the eternal question: "What do my customers want?"

Give customers what they want. It's a simple idea that tends to perplex many an e-commerce merchant. That's understandable, to an extent: When you're busy operating an online store, fulfilling orders and enacting various banner campaigns, communicating directly with customers-and formally finding out about them-often falls by the wayside. Days are packed with running the business, and before you know it, you're acting on gut rather than hard data.

But neglecting to peek inside your customers' heads can have dire consequences. Face it: How do you honestly know what they want-or what they don't want-if you don't even bother to ask?

Answers can be obtained the old-fashioned way: via formal analysis and research. Chances are, you'll be surprised at what you'll learn. Who knew shoppers respond in record numbers to pop-up windows advertising this week's sale?

To get your e-business on the right track, you should implement a formal system for determining and adapting to customers' desires. The sooner you make regular site improvements-based on real-life customer feedback-a top priority, the sooner you'll see sales shooting skyward.

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Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at mcampanelli@earthlink.net.

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This article was originally published in the October 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Pick Their Brains.

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