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Business Management

Kevin Norlin (Global) - Technology's Role in Building Customer Loyalty

Technology is changing the way customers expect to engage with brands, and organizations 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.

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, organizations cannot afford to allow technology to hold them back.

Application 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. Organizations 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.

Improving the customer experience

By using application performance monitoring technology to mitigate poor customer experiences, IT can help organizations 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.

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 organizations 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 organizations 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.

Plugging insights back into the organization in real-time

Customer experience is an important metric for retailers, but also for many other types of organizations, 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.

This type of high-level reliability gives organizations the confidence that customers will not be affected by performance issues, which is extremely important in any type service industry.

On the path to a truly connected organization

Organizations 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 organizations 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 helps organizations 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 organization today.

By Kevin Norlin, General Manager and Vice President (EMEA), Quest Software.

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