The Stranger’s Long Neck


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Gerry McGovern has recently published The Stranger's Long Neck - How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want.

Ireland’s Gerry McGovern shares a few of the key ideas in his recent publication The Stranger’s Long Neck – How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want. Mr. McGovern, who will be teaching a Masterclass series in Canada on the importance of task management this November, discusses several of the key findings in his new book, including:

Trading with strangers

– The customer is a stranger. On the Web, the customer isn’t king—they’re dictator. When they come to your website, they have a small set of tasks (long neck) that really matter to them. If they can’t complete these top tasks quickly, they leave.
– There is an existential challenge going on right now between organization-centric and customer-centric thinking. Customer-centric thinking is winning.

From Long Tail to Dead Zone

– The Long Tail theory says that the Web allows you to sell more of less, that we are seeing the decline of the blockbuster and the rise of the niche.
– The Long Tail is often a Dead Zone of extremely low demand and hard to find, poor quality products.

The rise of the Long Neck

– The Web is exploding with quantity but quality is still relatively finite. Quality is the ‘long neck’; the small set of stuff that really matters to the customer.
– Understanding and managing the long neck has never been more important.
– Remember that the customer’s long neck—what really matters to the customer—is rarely the organization’s long neck —what really matters to the organization.

A secret method for understanding your customers

– A unique voting method that identifies your customers’ long neck.
– Developed over 10 years, with over 50,000 customers voting in multiple languages and countries.
– Used by the BBC, Tetra Pak, IKEA, Schlumberger, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Cisco, OECD, Vanguard, Rolls-Royce, US Internal Revenue Service, etc.

Organization thinking versus customer thinking

– Case study that shows how car company managers think differently about how customers buy cars to how customers themselves think.
– Explanation of how to frame the task identification question.

Deliver what customers want—not what you want

– Case study of Microsoft Pinpoint, a website to help businesses find approved Microsoft IT vendors and consultants.
– What’s the top task of US small and medium businesses when it comes to IT? Security.

Measuring success: Back to basics

– Why traditional web metrics such as page views, number of visitors, etc., are often misleading
– Observation-based technique to measure online behaviour.
– The key metrics of task measurement: completion rate, disaster rate, completion time

Carrying out a task measurement

– The benefits of remote measurement
– How to run an actual measurement session

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Written by

Jeff Parks

Jeff Parks is the Podcast Editor for Boxes and Arrows and the co-founder of DIGIA UX Inc. in Ottawa Canada. Jeff has over fifteen years experience in the Government, Non-Profit, and Private Sectors creating goal-oriented solutions as an Information Architect, team leader, and project manager. These experiences have lead to successful delivery of projects in the Health Care and Information Technology industries including the development of information architectures, enterprise portal frameworks, e-Learning programs, cognitive rehabilitation systems, and corporate wide strategic frameworks. Jeff presented at the 2010 IA Summit in Denver and was the Closing Keynote at the 2012 Polish IA Summit in Warsaw Poland. He currently leads workshops on User Experience and Information Architecture @followuxleader

3 thoughts on “The Stranger’s Long Neck”

  1. Lots of ideas here representing the shift of different paradigms…nothing si really permanent but change and adaptations to those changes…

  2. Another thing to keep in mind is that every industry, every market, is different and what qualifies as “quality” or customer service differs accordingly.

  3. “The key metrics of task measurement: completion rate, disaster rate, completion time” Hmm, sounds like standard usability testing metrics. Not sure how this is “new” except for the cute name.

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