Take a moment to consider your favorite digital product or service. It may be a website or a streaming service, a business app or tool that helps you do your job. Why do you rate it so highly? Is it well-designed? Or, perhaps, its functional and effective, it helps you achieve your task, whatever that might be.
I can almost guarantee that you weren’t thinking about consistency. You simply expect it to work perfectly every time you use it, don’t you? You know you can rely on it.
If your favorite product or service wasn’t reliable, didn’t work well every time, you wouldn’t use it regularly, think of it as a favorite or get to liking its design and functionality.
As digital consumers, we demand digital products and services work each and every time we need them. That consistency in how the end user experiences a digital product or service is how digital experience quality is defined.
The Digital Experience Quality Report 2016, commissioned by Actual Experience, has shown that meeting that demand for digital experience quality from customers and employees is business critical. We asked senior business leaders in the Canada, Ireland, the US and the UK about why digital experience quality is important to their business and what challenges they face in improving it.
Almost all business leaders believe it is important to deliver digital quality to their customers (93%) and their employees (89%) and that it will still be important in the next two years. Business leaders can also see what the consequences of failing to deliver digital quality are. They are reported as customer churn (56%), customer complaints (43%) and loss of revenue (39%) and reduced productivity (46%).
The Digital Experience Quality Report 2016 reveals that data and analytics have a crucial role to play in achieving digital experience quality. Half of business leaders are prioritizing getting the right data and analytics to improve digital experience quality. This shouldn’t come as surprise. You have to monitor what you manage. You need to see digital experience quality if you want to improve it.
Almost all business leaders (89%) are satisfied or very satisfied with the technology and analytics they use to measure digital experience quality. So far, so good.
What is more surprising, and interesting, are some of the gaps and issues in the analytics that business leaders are using. Nearly half (49%) of business leaders say that identifying the specific quality issues that need to be improved is a barrier to improvement. This suggests a serious problem or blind spot. Certainly, the very high levels of satisfaction with the technology and analytics begin to appear misplaced.
The report also uncovers the fact that over a third of business leaders don’t understand how well things are working from the customer or employee perspective.
My advice would be to make sure that the digital quality analytics take the only perspective that really matters; that of the customer or employee.
There are lots of tools out there that monitor the performance of networks and applications. These tools have an important part to play in managing infrastructure and digital assets. No business should be without them but they are not enough.
The problem is, performance monitoring tools do not give you data on how your customer or employee is experiencing the end product. It is possible for all your hardware and software to be showing green lights and still deliver a digital experience that is poor enough to be costing your business money. So performance monitoring, no matter how good, does not help you monitor digital experience quality.
The other issue is the lack of actionable insights that will help companies improve digital experience quality. Traditional performance monitoring tools cannot tell you where or how to invest to improve digital experience. That is not what they were designed for.
There is another kind of analytics that businesses rely on when it comes to digital experience. These are the tools technologies that help them get closer to their customers and to the customer journey. Google Analytics, surveys, NPS and C-Sat are just some of sources of customer data for marketers.
All these analytics help businesses design a productive and/or profitable digital experience. This is important but they do not ensure that businesses deliver that experience consistently and cost-effectively.
I believe that the brands and companies that can get the right analytics and harness the insights from the data will gain a competitive advantage. They will deliver consistent, high-quality digital experiences to their customer and their employees to become the brand leaders globally.
Every dollar or pound that those digital quality leaders invest in the digital experience, in the design of their digital products and services and the digital customer journey, will deliver a return.
Currently unheard of brands will emerge to dominate based on their ability to deliver a consistent digital experience. Why would anyone persist with an inconsistent product when consistent ones are available?
So how do businesses get the right analytics and data? I gave part of the answer earlier when I wrote about the all-important customer and employee perspective. You have to measure digital experience quality at and from the only point that matters; the point at which a digital product or service is used or consumed. There are lots of tools that claim end-to-end visibility but you need an outside-in perspective. You have to start with the end user’s digital experience.
The second part of the answer is, perhaps, more complicated.
Delivering digital experience quality is not an easy challenge. Most digital products and services are complex with applications, databases and 3rd party services that have to be integrated. They are delivered to the end user over a mutable series of data centres, routers, switches and nodes. These elements together create a digital supply chain.
To improve digital experience quality, you have to manage the digital supply chain as a whole. The return on investment of every investment decision must be framed by how it will improve the digital experience. To do this, you need analytics for the outcome of the whole digital supply chain. The analytics must enable you to see how each node in that chain is impacting final digital experience quality.
These are the analytics that will give your business actionable insights. They will enable you to invest, confident that every dollar will improve the digital experience quality of customers or employees. These analytics will also mean you can make the most effective investments and drive a process of continuous improvement.
The right digital experience quality analytics are the cornerstone of better digital experience quality and cost-effective digital supply chains. In this digital age, those are two of the keys to business success.
Dave Page is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Actual Experience. Dave has diverse commercial and technical IT experience. For the last 18 years, he has advised on multinational corporate business systems, with roles in enterprise, outsourcing, software and hardware companies. Dave was the founding member of the management team at Nexagent, a venture funded software business acquired by EDS in 2008. Nexagent established systems that enabled consistent application performance across fragmented international corporate intranets. In 1998, Dave established and led the Consulting team for the $1 billion European Service Provider line of business at Cisco. Before this, Dave worked at IBM Global Services, BT Global Services and NatWest on numerous aspects of corporate IT infrastructure.
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