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3. "I'll ID Myself When I'm Ready"

Sometimes customers want to be anonymous and sometimes they want you to know exactly who they are. Customers use their anonymity as a basis for getting impartial advice and information without any sales pressure. This tends to be early in the process when a customer is evaluating alternatives.

The importance of anonymity is reinforced in GVU's tenth user survey, where people agreed strongly with the statement that they valued their anonymity on the Internet and enjoyed online shopping because of the absence of sales pressure.

Figure 2-1 Blind registration.

However, if customers want to transact with you, and if they have a history with you, they may well want you to know who they are. This is likely to be later in the process when identification benefits the customer.

Problems arise when we misjudge when people want to be anonymous and when they want to be identified. Forcing customers to identify themselves too early in an inquiry process could prevent them from going through with it. Additionally, Web sites sometimes don't make it clear whether customers are anonymous or not. Customers can sometimes incorrectly surmise that they have been identified, and then get disappointed when they don't receive personalized information.

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