Improving Customer Experience through Effective Monitoring

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In an outcome economy, value is based on the perception of people buying a product or service, not the things that went into building it.  In the digital age, that means customer experience is critical to brand perception, customer loyalty, and a company’s financial success.  With an increasing portion of the components that make up digital experiences residing outside a company’s control, measuring and managing the quality of experiences can be difficult. Having the right monitoring capabilities is essential.

Organizations fail because they don’t know what they don’t know – it’s the blind spots that get you.  We had a chance to talk with Mehdi Daoudi, CEO of Catchpoint, to understand how the monitoring needs of companies are changing based on the demands of the outcome economy and the impacts of emerging technologies and how Catchpoint’s monitoring solutions help companies eliminate those blind spots.

Customer Experience in an outcome economy

The concept of an outcome economy has been getting more attention recently, and customer experience plays a big role in determining the perceived value of products or services.  In an outcome economy, value is determined by the customer, not the producer of a good or service.  That value is measured by the holistic customer experience of doing business with your company and using your products/services.  It isn’t just about functionality – it’s about performance, availability and the quality of the overall experience.

“Quality experiences are all about saving and respecting the customer’s time.  Time is the only resource you can’t make more of – no matter how rich you are or who you work for”, says Mr. Daoudi.  “If you want great experiences, you need to save people time. For businesses, that means IT experiences that are fast, efficient and dependable. As consumers, we care about the experience and want to feel like our time is valuable and we are treated well.  Real-time monitoring helps ensure you aren’t wasting your customers’ time.  That shows respect and, in return, customers respect your brand.  Real-time monitoring also helps you measure, manage and improve your customer experience. We don’t make better experiences; we help companies measure their experiences.  You can’t fix and manage what you don’t measure.”

As anyone who has worked with IT or manufacturing systems can tell you, achieving fast, efficient, and dependable experiences requires optimizing operational performance, but it also means responding quickly when something in the system breaks or goes wrong.  A well-thought-out solution architecture, robust and redundant components with solid SLAs, and proper testing can help you avoid performance issues. However, not all risks can be avoided – and that’s where monitoring comes in. “Catchpoint helps you monitor services from a user perspective, not just that the devices are all up and running.  Components can change, what matters is if the users can achieve the desired outcomes.  Outcome-based monitoring helps you understand the difference between a component outage and service availability.”

Monitoring customer experiences, not component availability.

If value is measured from the customer perspective, then monitoring and measuring customer experience must be approached from a customer perspective as well.  As Mr. Daoudi explained, “Users don’t live in the data center, and the most important thing that impacts performance is latency.  Latency is driven by distance and it is important to monitor the activities that the user is trying to perform, from wherever the users are.”  This parallels the thinking in IT Service Management (ITSM) over the last decade that performance and availability SLAs should be based on the business and technical services that users consume, not just the components that IT providers manage.  A well-designed service should be resilient enough to keep working even if one or more components fail.

A key point that Mr. Daoudi made is that in an outcome economy and a technology environment that is continuously changing, it isn’t good enough to measure the services that you designed (what you thought people would be using). You need to take it a step further and measure their real experiences.  “Catchpoint helps companies get as close to the end-user experience as possible to help you detect problems early.”

  • Digital secret mystery shopper robots – Catchpoint has 850 deployed globally that can monitor latency, performance, reachability and service availability issues that are introduced by geographic location for a variety of services like DNS, APIs, SSL, etc.
  • Synthetic transactions – scripted sequences that simulate user activities and can help identify disruptions in system workflows and business processes.
  • Monitoring of real user transactions – live transactions provide the best measurement of actual customer experience and workflow throughput.

The right data to reduce the mean time to restore (MTTR)

“Our number one job is to save time and shed light on a complex delivery chain. Once you detect a problem, you need to understand why the problem is occurring. Catchpoint monitoring solutions give you the insights into where the problem is coming from so you can resolve it quickly, improve MTTR and reduce business impact,” says Mr. Daoudi. What makes Catchpoint different than many of its competitors is that it combines experience monitoring (monitoring of outcomes) with traditional component monitoring (things like DNS, SSL, Network devices, servers, etc.) to help companies trace the dependencies that impact service performance and availability.

Considering that an increasing proportion of the technical components that comprise customer experiences are managed by 3rd parties and are outside the company’s control, having a combination of experience and component monitoring is essential if you want to identify and diagnose issues rapidly.  If you are just monitoring from your data centers, how do you know if a dependent cloud service is having issues?  What about network performance in the regions where end-users are located? DNS and SSL issues can impact users’ ability to access services even if they are up and running.  Catchpoint not only provides the monitoring tools for capturing data, but also the analytics tools to construct the data into composite views for incident management and root-cause analysis (RCA).

The impact of emerging technology on monitoring

How do emerging technology like cloud services, SaaS, IoT, and mobile experiences change what or how you need to monitor? “Emerging technologies are making things more complex.  More data, things constantly moving, multi-platform experiences, and a bunch of new cloud offerings all bring new challenges.  At the end of the day, user experiences are what really matter – whether that user is a person or a machine,” says Mr. Daoudi. “With Internet 1.0, you had a user connecting to an app in one data center – it was simple. Today you have systems with multiple cloud providers, multiple user interfaces and a web of 3rd party components that are managed outside of your walls.  This makes monitoring more difficult. Catchpoint is investing in new vantage points to monitor services from new perspectives. New technology brings new blind spots – we help you eliminate them.”

“People aren’t looking at dashboards. Machines are analyzing the data.  Companies are integrating data into things like Splunk and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to push data out to decision-makers faster. 30-40% of customers don’t log into a dashboard or a user interface at all for monitoring data – it’s all automated.”  AI is perhaps the most significant technology disruptor and enabler in the IT industry right now. “AI is most successful when it has contextual data. AI is powerful at leveraging multiple data sources and doing correlation, in real-time, and at scale.  If you feed AI garbage in, you get garbage out.  Catchpoint is working on providing the cleanest data possible to our customers so they can integrate it with their company data and give AI systems context.  Clean data leads to better decisions and faster analysis.”

Monitoring solutions from Catchpoint give you visibility to all the pieces that make up user experiences – including the things you don’t directly control.  Armed with this information, you can deliver better services and be a more agile tool. Catchpoint can help you discover your unknown unknowns – the blind spots in your services and systems that make the difference between poor experiences that leave customers frustrated and quality customer experiences that delight.

Summary:

Improving Customer Experience

Emerging technologies are making things more complex. More data, things constantly moving, multi-platform experiences, and a bunch of new cloud offerings all bring new challenges. At the end of the day, user experiences are what really matter – whether that user is a person or a machine,” says Mr. Daoudi.

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Ryan Schmierer

Ryan Schmierer is a recognized industry thought leader in the areas of Digital Transformation, IT Strategy, Service Management and Operations. An accomplished Business and Enterprise Architect, he is presently the Principal Consultant for RS Consulting NW, based in Seattle, WA Ryan is formerly the Business Architect and Director of Business Programs for corporate IT at Microsoft and before that spent 14 years with Cisco Systems as a Business Architect and Project Manager. Ryan is a contributing author of The Open Group IT4IT Reference Architecture industry standard and is a recognized speaker and writer on topics of IT Transformation and Emerging Trends in Service Management.