While traditional static website monitoring can only tell you if the checkout URL or search URL is up or down, dynamic user journey monitoring is testing the whole process, end to end ‘Doing what the customer Does’ with randomised items (and number of items) in the cart, payment methods, shipping options, different ways of having browsed to, or searched for items and all measured at regular intervals 24/7 so that Customer Experience through your busy times and your quite times is captured.
Websites have changed a great deal in the last few years. The way companies monitor those sites has not. As customers become ever more demanding, the world becomes more connected, and online properties ever more complex: “business as usual” is no longer enough.
Most websites are no longer built around a “static” basic URL architecture (e.g. one URL for a specific product category, or one URL for a specific search).
Dynamic User Journey Monitoring reporting enables you to drill down into the detail of how individual steps in a user journey are performing and set alerts for slowdown based on your own user experience requirements. It ensures that your IT teams are alerted out of hours when your CX is poor, so they can resolve problems: instead of waiting for a server to be down some time later before their server monitoring alerts cut in. It frees your IT teams to plan effectively for hardware and IT infrastructure to cope with varying demand – such as “rush hours” and quiet periods, seasonal fluctuations and major campaign activities – in the knowledge that as long as the Journeys measured stayed Green = OK during the peak, then the IT infrastructure did it’s job; even if Marketing say ROI or purchasing was lower than expected: the IT infrastructure is no longer a possible culprit!
The Lost Opportunities calculations that dynamic user journey monitoring enables means that a monetary value can be assigned to slowdown or downtime or errors based on the value of user activities unique to an organisation and to a specific time. Some examples:
- An average basket value of a user at 6pm on a Friday may be much more valuable than the average at 2am on a Wednesday – so an error with the checkout process on the latter may be less damaging to the bottom line. Lost Opportunities calculations that factor this in help with decisions on when and if to switch over to new hosting capacity : whether new software has too many teething troubles and should be rolled back, or whether technicians on the call out rota need more tools to reduce their time to resolve problems.
- A user who views a full product demo video may be more valuable in terms of likelihood of completing a lead generation form so a user journey that includes a video view may be more valuable to the sales team than one that does not. If there is a decision to be made on fixing a bug on the video player or another component on your site: this information could help make the business case for one over the other.
- An increase in calls (and costs) to support or customer service, or an elevated number of product returns resulting in refunds, the cost of replacements and brand damage may result from errors in conditional logic where users were not able to choose the correct combination of options, or were sent the wrong configuration of items.
- If the stock inventory system is not responding, or not updating, to the online store: what will be the cost of users who look elsewhere, wanting to be certain they can definitely get the goods. The problem of the disappointed buyer occurs when a visitor finds the product they want on your site, takes time to compare with other choices, and then when they click Add to Basket are confronted with a page saying this option is not available to buy!Once you start to calculate how many times a user will return, what the average basket value is for each visit, how much they are worth over the course of the length of an average customer relationship with your organisation – and how much it costs to recruit new users vs continuing a good relationship with existing loyal customers the cost of “just a couple of hours of partial downtime” suddenly doesn’t seem so small.
- Where 3rd parties are contracted to provide some or all of your online services, whether standalone or components and plugins, the relationships between organisations are commonly managed through assessment of KPIs under a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Discussions of performance where a value can be assigned to downtime can be given a much sharper strategic and budgetary focus when the measurement is of Customer Experience journeys is on the table, not just artificial metrics of server availability.
This type of time dependent performance information is also extremely valuable for decision making around activities such as ad traficking, context sensitive sales and marketing offers and IT investment discussions, and prioritisation of support, developer and customer services time.
In the marketing arms race large amounts of time and money are invested in bringing user to the site through SEO, SEM, advertising, events, social media activities and PR campaigns. However, it doesn’t matter how many people you attract to the site if they cannot transact or interact with you in a meaningful way, if they cannot login. register or place orders, and eventually abandon their visit due to frustration.
The possibility of losing business and damaging brand due to poor technical performance is a real concern now the web is such an integral part of every body’s lives. The only way to protect your online revenue and ensure a consistent, positive, end user experience is to ensure your checklists always include monitoring your website more deeply to obtain the customer’s true perspective.
For more information about setting up your user journeys please read our User Journey FAQ