Customer Carewords… notes from our 2010 annual meeting

Customer Carewords and Higher Education Marketing: Task Completion = Marketing Success

Just back on Wednesday from two days in Dublin with Gerry McGovern and Customer Carewords partners from Canada, Norway, Holland, Sweden, Ireland, the U.S. and the U.K.

Online communications are fine, but it is always a special pleasure to meet old and new colleagues in person, share Carewords experiences, and learn how to better serve our clients over the next 12 months.

For Bob Johnson Consulting, this was the busiest Carewords year since the partners first met in 2007, with Customer Centric Index (CCI) surveys completed for American University – Cairo, Ball State University, Bemidji State University, Champlain College, East Stroudsburg University, Rider University, and Susquehanna University.

Here are a few points about creating and managing websites with high marketing impact that we reviewed in Dublin:

  • Most important: website management is about managing tasks, not content. To do that well, managers must first be sure they know the tasks that people want to complete on their website. Helping people complete tasks should be the driving force behind initial site design and ongoing site management.
  • In Carewords surveys in any type of organization (government, private firm, higher education) it is rare for people to complain about the “visual appeal” of the website. In almost every case, the primary complaint is about “confusing menus and links” that prevent task completion.
  • It is impossible to create good navigation without knowing the tasks that bring people to the website. It is impossible to know those tasks without asking web visitors what they are. Survey first, design second.
  • A CMS is a mixed blessing as it often leads to content proliferation without regard to whether or not the content helps people complete tasks. Too much content is dangerous to effective navigation and search. Content creators should ask themselves a simple question: what task am I helping people complete by creating this content?
  • Much content is created but little content is ever reviewed and removed. To start, use Google Analytics or a similar program to identify pages on a website that are seldom if ever visted. Why are they still on the website?

Higher Education Successes

The experience of Carewords partners over the past year makes us optimistic that web management is moving in the right direction. Consider these higher education examples:

  • Gerry was “astonished” at the 90 percent positive rating future students and parents gave to the Susquehanna University website this year.
  • The University of Manitoba highlights key tasks directly under the primary audience headings on the home page. Alumni, for instance, can get to “transcripts” in one click from the home page.
  • The University of Oslo puts 3 primary student life tasks in a “can’t miss” spot at the top of the first Student Life page. Everything else is on another page.

In the new year we’ll focus even more on identifying priority tasks and improving task completion rates that will make websites friendlier places for the people who use them.

Brand Reputation and Website Experience

Brand reputation depends in no small part on the experience people have on an organization’s website. People who can’t easily complete the tasks they wish to complete on your site will not hold your brand in high esteem no matter the tagline used or the smiling students pictured or the video success stories told.

CCI Results at 10 Colleges and Universities

Overall CCI Results at 10 colleges and universities are reviewed in my presentation “Rating Higher Education Websites: The Student Experience” from  the J.Boye conference last November in Denmark that’s available on SlideShare.

A CCI survey can help you fine tune your website. Results are usually available about 2 weeks after survey invitations are sent. Contact me at   

That’s all for now 


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