Technology’s Role In Building Customer Loyalty

Technology is changing the way customers expect to engage with brands, and organisations are increasingly struggling to keep pace. Today’s empowered consumers expect a faster customer service response time, an online experience that doesn’t force them to wait for a page to fully load or send error messages due to website performance issues, and the option to communicate with brands via the social media channels of their choice.

Positive customer experiences translate to customer loyalty, which in turn enables brands to remain competitive. To strengthen customer loyalty, brands must have a clear understanding of the customer experience and journey, and the key to that valuable insight is application performance monitoring technology.

For many brands, however, technology is exactly what is letting them down, causing even the most loyal customers to go elsewhere due to poor or frustrating online experiences that could have been prevented. With the ‘war for customers’ expected to intensify this year, as many brands continue to face fierce competition due to the current economic climate, organisations cannot afford to allow technology to hold them back, particularly as the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index suggests that business leaders are expected to lose more than 10 per cent of their customer base and potentially miss out on revenue of £2.23 billion over the next few years.

Performance monitoring technology that provides clear visibility deep into applications will help brands proactively monitor the real user experience, identify performance issues, understand user and customer behaviour, and solve issues before customers are affected. Organisations that realise the power of performance monitoring technology and how it can be used to create the kind of customer experience that equates to loyalty will ultimately reap the rewards and help them to keep a finger on the pulse.

Improving the customer experience

By using application performance monitoring technology to mitigate poor customer experiences, IT can help organisations prepare for application failure and arm them to respond, without disturbing the customer. For instance, one of the major gripes consumers have when shopping online is experiencing webpage freeze, particularly in the midst of making a purchase which leaves them unsure of whether the transaction actually processed.

This is common when websites experience heightened demand which can often be spontaneous. If Kate Middleton, for example, is snapped wearing the latest high-street buy, customers who are looking to purchase the same item may have to compete with hundreds of others. This can impact their brand experience and trigger them to go elsewhere.

Having a smooth online operation is essential to organisations at any time of the year, but in this competitive climate, retailers particularly need ecommerce sites that are robust and reliable to cope with peak traffic, and cater for the needs of prospective buyers.

Understanding the customer journey

By understanding the customer journey, brands can gain a better insight into what makes their customers tick and, therefore, tailor web experiences more effectively to generate longer browsing time and encourage a purchasing decision. It is essential to put the customer at the heart of the business, and organisations that want to be effective should work towards creating a single overview of the customer journey that is accessible to lines of business.

Take the mobile sector, for instance. In one of the most competitive industries where brand loyalty is usually ditched for cheaper voice and data contracts, mobile brands need to think carefully about how they create a valued service which ignites brand loyalty.

Application performance monitoring tools will help organisations identify the flaws that potentially drive customers to the competition. Such tools can replay the number of mouse clicks and hovers over a particular section of the webpage, and even the entire customer transaction. Therefore, if a customer is experiencing the ‘Error 404 – Page not found’ message, IT will instantly be alerted and the problem will be fixed before it can arise again.

Being able to replay this journey is important as it helps to educate IT about how and why errors occurred, and how to prevent them from happening. This automation process also reduces the number of man-hours required to solve the problem, which improves efficiency.

Likewise, organisations that are truly able to monitor the customer journey can provide lines of business with the visibility they need to see how a customer with a complaint, perhaps, was treated. Therefore, all relevant parts of the organisation are aware of the process the customer went through to gain a positive outcome, and can work collaboratively to get the issue fixed.

Plugging insights back into the organisation in real-time

Customer experience is an important metric for retailers, but also for many other types of organisations, such as banks and financial services providers, that also must provide a seamless experience to their customers. IT therefore has the opportunity to show its value to the business and make an impact by helping it to work in real-time.

Performance monitoring solutions can pinpoint the root cause of any business-impacting incident, so IT can fix problems quickly without interrupting the customer experience. This enables the organisation to respond to challenges immediately, resolving them before they can become an issue again.

On the path to a truly connected organisation

Organisations still have a long way to go to consistently provide the type of positive experience that customers are increasingly demanding, and technology is well placed to help. Customers who expect fast, seamless, error-free interactions with a brand seem to be moving at a faster pace than the enterprise, which is why many organisations are feeling the pressure to catch-up.

To avoid the risk of losing customers to the competition, it is important for brands to embrace the new culture and mentality geared towards customer experience. Application performance monitoring – with its proactive visibility into the way application performance impacts end users and customers – helps organisations stay in front of potential problems rather than responding reactively. It is the ticket to building the positive customer journey and experience that leads to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Positive customer experience is not only the driver for brand loyalty, it is the ultimate make or break of any organisation today.

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Kevin Norlin is the GM & VP at Quest Software in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and is responsible for all field operations and product lines sold by Quest Software in the region. Previously, Kevin worked at Sun Microsystems as the Vice President of Worldwide Sales for Sun's Enterprise Software products. He has also worked for several pre-IPO software start-ups in the web services and application porting markets, and has spent over 19 years in the software business to date. Kevin resides in the UK with his wife and two children, and enjoys travelling with his family in his leisure time.