It is well recognised that providing a stellar experience to customers is a competitive imperative for companies today. Many organisations see it as an essential way to differentiate themselves and this applies in online just as much as in the offline world. An independent research study we commissioned, entitled Counting the Cost of Not Knowing, revealed that 89% of ecommerce leaders believe customer experience is a significant differentiator for their business.
However, there is a problem. How do you know whether your online customers are having a good experience or not? And for those who are not, how do you find out the specific issues or obstacles customers are encountering and, more importantly, how do you understand what impact that is having on your business? Alarmingly, our research found that, typically, companies think they only know 50% of the issues their customers are having. I believe even this may be an optimistic estimate.
Companies are generally good at measuring visitor engagement on their websites. Most have implemented web analytics technology, which is very good at telling you the high-level aggregate numbers about how customers got to the site and the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of visitor behaviour. However, they do not really answer the ‘why’ questions. For example, why have we seen a sudden increase in abandonment at the payment step of our checkout? This requires a different type of solution. These solutions are referred to as customer experience management (CEM) solutions. UserReplay is a leader in the CEM space.
Effective use of this technology requires companies to follow a simple methodology that will ensure they maximise their return on investment. I have outlined here the key steps of this approach, along with some of the CEM capabilities that are required to support them.
When a CEM solution is first implemented, organisations want to find the quick wins that can yield the largest benefit to the bottom line. In order to do this, they use the CEM solution to drill down to the areas of biggest customer struggle and the places where this struggle has the most impact. This would typically occur in the checkout, booking or other conversion processes.
In order to do this, the CEM solution should support the creation of events that flag particular behaviours or activity in every customer journey. These events should be easy to create on the fly and should not require any tagging changes on the site.
In association with this, analytics are required that report on these events and direct you to relevant customer journeys that are encountering the aforementioned struggle.
Once you have discovered a small sub-set of customer journeys that are having difficulties, you need to visualise what these customers are experiencing through their eyes. This is best done via a technique known as session replay. The CEM solution should provide a step-by-step visual replay of the customer’s journey so you can see the pages they visited, where they clicked and what obstacles they encountered.
A key aspect of session replay is accuracy. Some solutions that claim to provide session replay actually capture data through the use of crawlers. This synthetic approach means you do not necessarily see the actual customer experience. Instead, it is essential to capture the data directly from the customer’s browser or from the network stream between the customer and the web server.
When a customer experience issue has been identified, the next question to answer is what impact is this having? Ultimately, this requires tying the problem to the effect that it has on the bottom line and conversion.
UserReplay is unique in providing built-in analytics that tell you this in a single, easy-to understand report. Knowing that an issue could have a £1m annual impact compared to one that has a £10,000 impact makes prioritisation of resolutions much easier.
One of the biggest issues faced by website development teams is how to reproduce issues that customers are having. Quite often, these teams find this impossible or require additional information from the customer to understand the problem. This means resolution times are extended. Similarly, without the prioritisation provided in the monetisation step, a lot of time can be wasted on issues that may not be having a significant impact on the business.
Another requirement for a CEM solution is that it not only provides accurate visual replay but also the technical detail behind it – including data about non-visual data being requested by the browser. This makes the job of reproducing customer experience problems much faster. Also, cross-departmental usage of the CEM solution means everybody has a consistent, single picture of the customer’s experience.
Websites and the environments they operate in are ever-changing; frequent website changes, new browser and operating system updates mean that ongoing monitoring of customer experience quality is essential. Thus it is important that your CEM solution has the capability to deliver proactive notification that customer struggle behaviour has breached thresholds. It should also allow customisable dashboards which allow you to track the most important events that indicate customer struggle.
A recent innovation is the concept of customer experience scoring. UserReplay has pioneered this approach, which means that the overall quality of customer experience can be scored – both at an individual customer and site-wide level. This can provide early warning that customer experience is becoming sub-optimal.
Of course when struggle behaviour is identified via monitoring, the cycle of discovery, visualisation, monetisation and resolution will continue with increased focus.
These steps provide a simple and effective approach to managing the digital experience. Our customers have found that this methodology, in association with implementing enterprise CEM technology, ensures a fast return on their investment. On average, this can be within three or four months, although many of our customers have seen a return within days or weeks.
Customer experience is king. That is why enlightened online businesses are using CEM technology to ensure they can deliver great experiences to their customers, 24/7.