Customer Service and Brand Perception
The website experience will tend to define users’ perceptions of all interactions with the owner of that brand. Customer service online is as important as that offered on helplines or high streets. Good user experience is what enables market leaders to retain their customers and their competitive edge.
And good user experience is not merely that the homepage is not slow! It’s a trouble-free experience on the multi-page routes a user follows to achieve their goal of choosing a product, or checking out their basket, etc.
As businesses adapt to an increasingly customer centric world the ability to accurately measure, learn and apply insights allows forward looking organisations to make a real and positive difference to the person who matters most – the customer. Customer advocacy is one of best, and most sought after, ways of differentiating a product, service or organisation.
Brand messages from friends and family carry more far more weight than do messages from the owners of those brands. They also stay around for a long time – far outliving the version of the site or application to which they applied – whether posted online and accessible to other users searching for information, or as anecdotes and hearsay in conversation.
Mystery shopping has long been a technique used by retailers and service providers. The opportunity to understand the genuine customer experience has always been highly prized. Knowing how your organisation performs on its best behaviour, on its best day, is all very well, but means very little unless it can be measured against what the level of what constitutes bad performance so that you can raise the latter and narrow the gap between the two.
Dynamic User Journey Monitoring is the next evolution of Mystery Shopping. It’s online mystery shopping, takes places 24/7, and gives insight as if you were sitting on the shoulders, standing in the trolley or, with the session replay function, viewing the actual screen of the customer.
Often things can, misleadingly, appear to work perfectly well, technically, in terms of a testing program calling for a pre-set URL and it reporting back that the URL has been reached successfully. Users interact with websites in random ways, not always taking the same obvious path in the same order.
As transactional websites become more complex, for example when they use the the kind of conditional logic needed on eCommerce sites to let users select sizes and colours of clothes, options for electrical goods such as customized PCs or situation dependent insurance quotes or all of the choices that need to be made when searching for and booking holidays, testing and monitoring tools need to be able to keep up with, and replicate, complex human behaviour.
As websites become more functionally complex and possible user actions become more varied, fluid and dynamic it is imperative that your monitoring of them does, too.
With traditional “static” or simple page monitoring, that almost all sites use, an eCommerce store will have a monitor hit the homepage at regular intervals, and ring an alarm if the web server does not respond. This tells you nothing more than whether the homepage is working. Unfortunately, whether the homepage works has very little bearing on the performance of the rest of the site. It’s very common for some deeper part of the website to be broken which prevent sales being taken, but the home page is still working and your monitoring shows Green OK !
By contrast Dynamic User Journey Monitoring tests websites at a defined schedule (usually every few minutes, but this varies with the type of site) with a series of different journeys that emulate dynamically how a customer would interact with the sites, to achieve their goals
Dynamic User Journey testing is able to take randomised paths, making different choices from the conditional logic, through entire sites, specific paths, rich media content, third party components and mobile applications, finding slowdowns, timeouts, rendering problems, logic failures, content display hitches and compatibility issues. It will find problems such as when a product price changes between viewing it and it being in the basket – or when product names change likewise: these errors in merchandising logic or databases don;t affect all products all the time, so can be undermining your online sales for months, until the dynamic approach brings them to the surface.
Testing and monitoring in this way facilitates cross departmental collaboration as IT, Operations, Sales and Marketing are provided with all relevant information needed to solve problems, make key strategic decisions and improve performance – all can share the common language of the ‘Do what the Customer Does’ Journeys : and whilst the business teams can view the metrics to ensure user experience is as expected, when there are problems that need to be diagnosed, the IT team can start with the same Journey, drill down into SciVisum’s portal and get down to the specific technical root causes and factors behind the problem: IT are thus empowered to be able to rapidly resolve root causes behind Customer Experience concerns.
Meetings between the various teams become quicker, more productive, more evidence based: dialling into SciVisum’s portal right there in meetings, means that no longer do meetings close unresolved, to allow the gathering of further data from other systems. Instead the portal shows the top level CX metrics, down through the performance of each Journey specifically one by one. And when a detail tech question arises, a quick allows a drill-dwon to the root cause of a specific error or slow down right there in the meeting.
“46% of adults reported they would abandon a transaction after experiencing a problem on a web site”
When monitoring or testing website performance it is important that the software behaves like a user, not a program. Instead of merely checking availability of single pages it needs to take the same actions, in the same way, as real users, experiencing your unique combination of code and applications that occur throughout the interactive journey. Measured by cloud testing from the Internet, as real users connect from the Internet – not from internal onsite measurements.
By understanding what the key customer touch points are, how the perform, and their impact on customer actions you will have valuable information that can be used to improve sales, increase basket value, encourage customer advocacy and deepen loyal customer relationships.
You lose sales with such problems, so it’s vital that your monitoring finds them – multi-page, randomised, dynamic user journeys that do what a user would do: looks into the page, finds the desired link or button, and “clicks” for the next page will find them quickly. Static URL monitoring never will.