By Aaron Rudger, Keynote
Organizations large and small across industries are embracing the digital age. Increasingly, these businesses are beginning to understand the role of customer experience in digital success. As a recent survey conducted by Forrester discovered, organizations now rank customer experience as the single most important factor in evaluating the success of their digital strategy. That’s the good news, especially in a business environment where 86 percent of customers report doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.
The bad news? Many organizations are plagued by the inability to make informed decisions regarding digital channels due to a lack of proper performance analytics. So while businesses understand the need to deliver a positive customer experience through digital means, they often don’t know how to execute accordingly.
"The first impression is the last impression." The same holds true for digital channels. In a world where the first interaction a majority of customers have with a brand is online, the ROI of investing in digital performance is clear. Why then, do organizations that recognize the importance of customer experience not evaluate or invest in performance metrics and analytics?
Let’s start off by exploring the metrics that are currently being measured when monitoring the success of a company’s digital strategy. New user growth, average customer acquisition cost, and repeat app users were the most important in determining digital success, Forrester found when surveying both IT and line-of-business decision makers.
While these metrics are critical to digital success when focusing on customer experience, they aren’t providing the insight needed to create a great digital experience. Measuring sales and business metrics is part of any digital strategy, but more technical metrics can give organizations the edge they need to maintain a digital advantage over their competitors.
Technical Metrics: Why So Important?
Technical metrics ultimately provide the foundational insight necessary to gain a clearer picture into the why behind business metrics. Why are users not coming back to our website or mobile application? Why is new user growth so difficult? Why are consumers not downloading?
The best-designed Web pages or mobile apps don’t matter if prospective customers abandon a website due to a long load time or delete an application after it crashes multiple times. For instance, take a search query bar featuring predictive text capabilities. Great feature, right? What if the performance is too slow for the predictive text to even show up before a user completes their search? Suddenly, a great feature is rendered useless. When it comes to customer experience design, organizations need to take into account performance metrics such as responsiveness and latency.
Forty-one percent of companies surveyed reported that they had experienced performance issues with a digital property over the last 12 months. In the digital era, what business implications did that mean for that 41 percent?
Disruptions in performance directly impact business and the customer relationship. During periods of performance interruption, customers are unable to engage with brands. For example, a purchase could be abandoned, a customer could turn to a competitor to purchase a similar item or service or, even worse, share their negative experience through social networks. Poor performance directly leads to lost revenue.
A great example of this was Target’s Lilly Pulitzer launch. The highly anticipated launch of the new line of clothing was ultimately met with much disdain from customers as the demand caused the website and mobile app to crash. Such events cannot only lead to negative reputation, but also directly impact potential sales.
From a broader perspective, a customer’s digital experience impacts long-term brand perception. It takes, on average, 12 positive experiences to make up for a single, unresolved negative experience. Additionally, 78 percent of customers have not made a purchase due to a bad customer experience. Can your brand afford to ignore the impact of a positive digital experience?
5 Key Performance Metrics
Which performance metrics should organizations value most? While there’s no concrete answer to what will work for every organization, the following should be on any list of metrics to have consistent visibility into:
Responsiveness. Is your application optimized for the platform it’s being viewed on? Are your users able to easily view and navigate through the application?
Latency. Consumers have a shorter attention span than ever before. In fact, the average attention span of today’s consumer is eight seconds. Lag times between requests and page loads run the risk of losing customers.
Third-party impact. We’re starting to see more and more third-party applications integrated into existing digital properties, but this often affects the performance of the application. Don’t let new features intended to boost the user experience ruin that same experience.
Load testing metrics. Have a big launch coming up? Make sure you’re ready. Ensure that your website or application can handle the spike in traffic that is likely to happen on launch day.
Competitor benchmarks. It’s one thing to know what you’re doing, but another (very important) thing to know how you stack up against your competitors. Make sure you’re not just measuring your performance, but also in context of competitors to maintain your edge.
While many organizations don’t prioritize performance metrics, those that do are experiencing a return on their digital investments in the form of increased customer engagement, a higher bottom line and customer retention rates that are higher than those of their competitors.
A clear disconnect has emerged: Organizations recognize the value of customer experience, but are not evaluating the impact and influence of performance and quality on customer experience. It’s time for brands to think beyond the download. Doing so can help bridge the gap between customer experience and digital success.
Aaron Rudger is a veteran in the Web performance space with over 15 years of industry experience. As director of Product Marketing at Keynote, Aaron leads the product vision, strategy and evangelization for Keynote's Web and mobile monitoring solutions. His cross-industry expertise in CRM, IT management and eCommerce can be found in industry publications and technology blogs such as NBC News and Website Magazine.