Report: Retailers Need to Improve Their Digital Experiences to Stay Relevant
The consumer marketplace is teeming with choice, especially as retailers continue to realize their transformation initiatives and extend their reach in the digital space. While this creates massive opportunities for digital winners, it also dictates that the quality of customer experience is more paramount than ever to establishing, nurturing and growing a successful business.
What’s more, customers have lofty expectations for every digital experience, in large part driven by their daily interactions with technology-first companies like Amazon.com, Google and Apple. In order to keep pace with customers and competition, retailers must improve their use of real-time, data-driven insights to drive positive customer interactions and long-term brand loyalty.
The Reality of Real-Time Data
The fact is retailers risk losing out to competitors or getting left behind by not taking advantage of real-time performance insights. According to new research, more than half (55 percent) of consumers say they've abandoned a transaction and gone to a competitor because of poor digital service, with two-thirds (66 percent) saying they would completely avoid brands known for poor digital experiences. Access to real-time performance data can help IT teams mitigate these issues by showing them where a problem is occurring while it’s occurring — and not long after the fact when consumers have already aborted their purchase journey and tweeted about their negative experience (more on this below). This is especially critical as we approach the hectic holiday shopping season. Today’s consumers expect streamlined and omni-digital experiences, whether they're browsing online, picking orders in-store, or contacting customer service for product information.
Unfortunately, the consequences of a poor digital experience go well beyond an abandoned shopping cart. A whopping 63 percent of consumers would actively discourage others from using or shopping at poor performing brands. Furthermore, 59 percent of consumers say they're more likely to choose a brand if its digital service is better than its competitors.
Using Data to Assure Customers’ Value
So how can retailers leverage real-time performance insights to gain an advantage and convert consumers, while improving shopper experiences overall? First, it's imperative that retailers proactively monitor and manage their end-to-end digital experience from a technical and customer interaction perspective. Additionally, both business and IT teams should be deeply involved in this process. The know-how to remediate customer issues requires their close partnership across these data sets. This includes having the ability to:
- detect which customers are experiencing a slow or problematic transaction as it's happening;
- know exactly what loyalty status those customers have and what products they were attempting to purchase when things went awry; and
- quickly diagnose and remediate the underlying issue so it doesn't affect other customers, and use what IT teams have learned to prioritize future issues.
Retailers winning the digital game not only have the ability to detect these issues in real time, but also the tools to remediate the underlying technical issues quickly, as well as the capability to reach out to anyone impacted to assure them their experience and loyalty is valued. This unified context across business and IT teams is critical, as 78 percent of consumers expect to be recognized for their loyalty and compensated when they have a poor digital experience.
Human Emotion is Not to Be Overlooked
Research also shows there's a very real human component to digital experience. Poor customer experiences are directly correlated with increased employee emotional distress on behalf of affected consumers. This distress isn't misplaced, with 40 percent of employees citing that they experience negative work consequences due to problems with digital services. And employees aren't the only ones experiencing physical distress: 69 percent of consumers think brands need to better understand the implications of digital service problems on well-being.
It’s especially important to keep this in mind as shoppers become increasingly harried (and as employees work longer, busier hours) as the holidays approach. Implementing a proactive, end-to-end monitoring and management strategy for your digital experiences will not only ensure your customers keep coming back, it can help protect against employee distress. Arm your business and IT teams with clear visibility into who is impacted by performance issues, insight into how to quickly resolve digital issues, and actionable data that will allow them to reach out to impacted customers with helpful information to improve their experience. The next time a shopper abandons their cart after failing to score one the newest set of AirPods or their mobile app crashes mid-order, you can proactively let them know you're fixing the issue (and perhaps throw in a coupon code for their patience).
The reality is that in today’s world there's little tolerance for a mediocre digital experience. The key to sustaining happy, loyal customers is to monitor and manage site and application interactions in real time. Only by leveraging these real-time insights can businesses anticipate outages, remediate issues immediately, and manage a network of channels with success and longevity — especially as the biggest shopping season of the year approaches. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for retailers to be thinking critically about how they can ensure seamless, positive digital experiences through the holidays and beyond.
Matt Cleve is director and global lead of business iQ at AppDynamics, an application performance monitoring and management solution.
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