Tremendous shifts are happening in the way customers are interacting with brands. Customers are making the choice of digital interaction over brick-and-mortar visits for more and more services. For the most part, that interaction continues across different screens — tablets, laptops, smartphone and smart watches. This is a story that many businesses can tell, be it the banking industry, the airline industry, or even horse betting. Enterprises are striving to deliver innovative digital strategies offering that right balance of delight and utility. As digital experiences emerge as the primary brand engagement point, IT teams are quickly realizing different strategies are required to ensure the quality of the brand experience.
Naturally, this shift is a significant enabler for new business opportunities. One great example is Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay; time-challenged customers using the app can grab and go. The result? More customers served, higher same-store profit.
I love to see when digital strategies are executed well in that mobile moment. But, as users embrace mobile moments, their expectation are high. I’ve gone mobile first all the way. I cannot imagine my banking app being unavailable, or worse, unreliable (after snapping that picture of my check, not receiving a deposit confirmation). Others have described how expensive failed transactions can be to an enterprise (in the region of $300K/hour) or delays due to poor performance (up to 7% conversions loss due to 1 second delay).
As I think about a normal week for me – delayed at Logan airport, flying home from London, sitting in the back seat of an Uber and that occasional expense report using Expensify interrupted by my Snap Chatting teen age daughter — I have a hard time adjusting expectations knowing that my favorite apps (including 3rd party services and content) are sensitive to the conditions I’m experiencing. What do I mean? Location, battery condition, available device memory because I’m constantly using five or so apps. And let’s not forget the frequent WiFi – cellular transitions and bandwidth variations. Even as a Mobile Application Performance Product Manager who really understands the challenges, I get frustrated and sometimes ultimately make that decision to try that new brand when my experience fails to meet expectations.
I routinely ask enterprise app owners the question, do you know when your application performance is slipping? This evolves into a conversation of who is acting faster, the app support monitoring teams to identify and resolve issues or frustrated users angrily posting on social media sites. Unfortunately, those posts trigger media coverage.
Looking back on incidents I often explore why were teams unaware? Why were your monitoring tools reporting the lights are green when in fact, user experience went from yellow to red?
Frequently similar points emerge:
- For me, one strand is reminiscent of the technology mismatch web teams described. Monitoring browser emulators does not reflect what users are really experiencing and looking at mobile, it’s the same lesson. Measuring the user experience on real, non-modified devices and applications is the only way to understand what users are experiencing.
- The complexity difference between web and mobile delivery chains. With web, much of the service delivery is housed within enterprise data centers and consumed over WiFi. Mobile apps frequently follow service/micro-service design patterns utilizing a mix of internal and external content, making the go forward approach reliant on visibility into the full delivery chain.
- Late incident awareness. A second technology mismatch emerges when tools report a problem only after significant customer pain is experienced. The value of early awareness is pushing teams to complement existing tools with proactive solutions that don’t wait for some statistically significant number of end users to experience degraded service.
- Ad hoc incident triage practices. There’s nothing like that tense energy experienced by a Saturday night war room conference call when everyone is asked the same question – can you explain what’s happening? Too often, mobile incident conference calls are characterized by a lack of data and a lack of explanations. Some teams are realizing important bread crumbs are available from the app and device – transaction screenshots, logs, packet data etc.
I love when mobile applications are rock steady and seem to simply perform regardless of where I am or when my daughter is interrupting me (for which I am always thankful). For enterprises to successfully engage customers on their preferred devices, they must implement proactive monitoring strategies that ensure the highest quality user experience.