November 27, 2004

Fast Company: She Reads Customers' Minds...

Alissa Kozuh, formerly a part of the search team at Microsoft and now the editor of Nordstrom.com, talks about interpreting search engine logs in a Fast Company article. The key question in analyzing search engine logs is trying to figure out what people were looking for, and how to make sure they buy it:

Part of the answer is a robust search engine -- smart technology that makes it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. But an even bigger part of the answer involves human intervention -- smart people who can interpret customer inquiries and deduce what they really want.

That's Alissa Kozuh's job at Nordstrom.com. Kozuh, 28, who formerly worked on search-related projects for Microsoft, is now the editor of Nordstrom.com, where her most important role is to analyze the words that people put into the site's search engine every month. All 45,000 of them.

"People in the fashion industry can call a trend anything they want," Kozuh says.

"But what the customer decides to call it is ultimately what matters most to us." That's why Kozuh keeps a giant spreadsheet of the most-popular search entries on her computer and regularly adjusts the site's proprietary thesaurus so that people looking for "hobo bags" will see purses, not bandanas on a stick. "We're interested in what kinds of results people got," Kozuh says. "Were they relevant? Did they get the merchandise that best applies? That's the difference between bringing a human element into this process and leaving it to technology."

The intentional fallacy may have declined in literary criticism several decades back, but it's resurfaced (with a big budget) in eCommerce.

[via Tomalak's Realm]

Posted by johndan at November 27, 2004 12:18 AM | TrackBack