In the last few weeks, we have been excited to announce we have secured $4.7 million of new funding from leading investors.

These funds bring the total raised to date to over $10 million. Sales have grown rapidly and whilst our cash position was already strong, we decided to raise further funds now to accelerate product development and to build on our growing presence in the US market.

We expect 2016 to be a key year for the CEM space – we know the sector is rapidly growing. Our recent Counting the Cost of Not Knowing research showed 76% of eCommerce brands in the UK and US plan to increase investment in online channels over the next 12 months. However, we also know that 85% of these eCommerce leaders have challenges in understanding why customers struggle in their online channel. With customer experience being a key battleground for online companies, it is logical to assume that a proportion of this online investment will be directed towards improving visibility into customer behavior and struggle.

We are at the forefront of this market growth, proven by the confidence our customers and investors have in our products and strategy. CEM is fast becoming an essential part of the digital marketing ecosystem and, with this additional funding, we have the resources to fully exploit an exploding market. Ultimately, this means we will help more eCommerce brands improve their ability to discover, visualize and monetize customer experience issues so they can improve conversion and protect their brand.

In the last year we have brought to market a number of key innovations. We delivered the first event based CEM Analytics solution on a SaaS platform. We also pioneered a capability to score the overall quality of experience on websites, thereby providing an early warning if customer experience degrades. The new investment, along with our in-depth understanding of the eCommerce industry and our customers’ challenges, will enable us to develop further innovations that will be game-changers in the CEM sector.

In addition to funding from leading investors, we have secured over $350,000 from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency supported by the British Government. This is in recognition of User Replay’s innovative approach and to support our efforts in driving the CEM market forward with new advances.

We’d like to thank our major investors: Longwall Ventures and existing investors Episode 1 Ventures, EC1 Capital and FSE for their support and understanding of what we are working to achieve. With their help, it enables us to take User Replay into its next phase of growth.

John Thompson, CEO, UserReplay

Financial service providers have undergone a significant transition in the last decade whereby the customer’s experience has increasingly transitioned online, with a complex array of functions being offered on a self-service basis.  For a highly regulated industry – that has traditionally been a face-to-face customer serving industry – this is quite a step change.

Optimal customer experience is essential – particularly when customers are managing their financial affairs.  Coupled with the risk of fraud, the financial services industry has some sector-specific challenges to address where customer experience management (CEM) technology, such as UserReplay, can help.

Optimizing the experience

Sites in the financial services industry are regularly split between secure and non-secure sections.  The non-secure areas are where potential customers experience their first interactions with the brand and are introduced to the various products and services.  A poor experience here, such as badly designed forms and errors in application processes, can reduce conversion opportunities.

In the secure self-service area, customer expectations are high and they wish to be able to complete transactions quickly and easily.  A poor experience could lead a customer to defect and try out a rival brands services. In addition, one of the main aims of the customer self-service function is to deflect customer service calls or branch visits – which incur additional cost to the business.

Finding and fix issues

Financial services sites are rigorously tested.  Nonetheless, undetected errors or poorly designed processes can occur.  Ensuring that problems are rapidly identified and rectified is an on-going and time-consumer process.  According to The Online Customer Experience – Counting the Cost of Not Knowing research study, commissioned by UserReplay, 58% of finance eCommerce professionals surveyed said that not having complete visibility of their customers’ online journey makes it significantly more challenging to plan and make decisions.  It also takes financial services providers a day to find and fix issues on average – a significant drain on resources and too slow in a time critical environment.

Customer services and dispute resolution

When customers experience an issue on their online banking site, they are likely to contact the customer service team.  Being able to visualize exactly what the customer did in real-time can help reduce the time required to service the customer and reduce the need for further calls.  Also, having this visibility means that resolving disputes with customers is much easier as you have empirical evidence of their interactions.

Fraud analysis

Online fraud can be detected by such behaviors as unusually high attempts at login or changing personal details midway through a process.  UserReplay can be configured to recognize fraudulent behavior and to notify managers of unusual incidences.  As well as real-time responses, it also provides a wealth of data for forensic fraud analysis and to guide on-going fraud strategies.

Tag based capture becomes a realistic option

Regulatory issues around third party storage of data is a key issue for financial services organizations and means that SaaS based CEM solutions have traditionally been out of bounds for financial services companies.  This has meant that, up to now, they have not been able to take advantage of high fidelity session replay and/or advanced capabilities such as form analytics.

In response to this challenge, UserReplay has launched an Enterprise Tag capability that is now available within its installed software offering. It uses a JavaScript tag to capture the customer journey data. The only difference with UserReplay’s SaaS option is that data is directed to the customer’s own servers rather than UserReplay’s hosting environment. This is particularly advantageous for brands that want to capture PII data for customer services, fraud analysis and dispute resolution use cases but also want the advantages of capturing data at the client side.

To find out more about Enterprise Tag and UserReplay’s various deployment options visit here.

Darren Ward, Director of Product Marketing, UserReplay

Cartoon frustated business man in front of his computer

We’re all used to completing forms online – sometimes they work well, other times they can be confusing and frustrating. Consequently, this can be an area where customers drop out of key processes on a website such as checkout, insurance quoting, registration and many more.

In an increasingly global eCommerce environment, consumers need to be able to easily complete online forms for any brand, anytime, anywhere. We have outlined below some of the common issues that cause customers to struggle when completing online forms:

1. Fields that do not accept special characters

It’s a challenge for brands to cover all the bases here but there are some common errors we see arising again and again. For example, town fields that do not accept certain types of punctuation such as a hyphen. The people of Weston-Super-Mare struggle a lot!

Similarly, this applies to name fields where apostrophes and hyphens are not accepted. For example, names such as O’Neill would not be accepted as valid. Rather ironically, the founder of the worldwide web, Tim Berners-Lee probably has more than his fair share of frustrations trying to enter his surname as well!

2. Postcode vs. ZIP code

For non-US consumers, the dreaded ZIP code field often appears on forms. Most people try to enter their postcode but often the form field does not allow for enough characters or the right format. For example, UK consumers are typically used to writing their postcode with spaces.

3. Mandatory fields that are not applicable

Address fields are a minefield internationally. One of the most common issues is that the ‘state’ field often requires an entry but none of the selectable values are relevant outside of the US. Form fields need to be flexible depending on the country origin of the customer and need to ensure there is always a relevant option that can be selected – even if it is something like “outside US”.

4. Phone number formatting and validation

As with the punctuation limitations in names and addresses, the problems don’t stop with phone numbers. Entering international phone numbers often causes problems because of brackets and plus signs in front of the country code. Many forms are designed not to accept these characters which can be frustrating for users if they are used to writing their phone number in this way. Also, the field may be designed to accept numbers in a very specific format. We saw an issue at one of our customers where they were validating Republic of Ireland phone numbers against the Northern Ireland phone number format. Users in the Republic of Ireland could not progress through the form on this basis and sales were being lost.

5. Usability issues on mobile devices

As more and more of us use mobile devices to access websites, we are seeing frustrations with the ability of forms to work correctly on these devices. Elements that work perfectly well on desktop may not have been adapted to work correctly with touch screens. For example, have you ever been annoyed when trying to use a selector button that does not react correctly to touch control?

Whilst these issues seem straightforward and are often relatively easy to fix, many organisations just do not know their customers are experiencing them and, crucially, how much impact they are having on conversion. This is why UserReplay has introduced a new, fully automated Form Analytics capability to enhance our already powerful CEM solution.

The UserReplay form analytics capability is a “fire and forget” solution that automatically identifies forms and form fields in the page and captures key data about their usage. This data is then used to automatically populate form analytics within the UserReplay portal. These analytics include overall form completion and engagement overviews, actionable form conversion funnels and field drop-off analysis. The analytics can also be sliced by segments such as time and browser/OS platform. Of course, the usual benefits of UserReplay apply such that when form field issues are discovered you can use event based analytics to monetize the impact of these issues on conversion.

Form field fails could be costing your business significantly in terms of lost conversions. With UserReplay you can make form field fails a thing of the past! Find out more here.

How well do you really understand your customers’ experiences on your website? Can you measure the quality of experience at any particular point in time? Can you measure the impact of change on your customer base as it happens?

As we mentioned in our Digital Customer Experience Predictions blog, 2016 will be the year data truly helps to drive decision-making in eCommerce. Data collection and data analysis will become more closely aligned and usable in real-time, making it easier to prove ROI of technology investments and identify areas of focus.

In recognition of this, UserReplay has launched Customer Experience Scoring, a ground-breaking new capability that enables eCommerce organizations to measure the quality of online customer experiences in real time. Numerical scores are generated to measure the ‘quality’ of a customer’s journey on a brand’s web properties – both from a positive and negative perspective. As well as providing a score for each individual customer journey, an aggregate score can also be collated across all customers to give a measurement of overall customer experience. This is significant because previously this type of measurement and trending was only available on individual aspects of customer experience.

Customer Experience Scoring is an extension of UserReplay’s flagged event technology. Flagged events enable analytics and monitoring into specific activity and behavior of visitors. Now scores can be assigned to flagged events that indicate their impact on the user experience. UserReplay has developed this capability based on specific market feedback. This feedback revealed that measuring the overall customer experience in this way would be valuable but has not been easily achievable to date.

The benefits for eCommerce brands are far reaching in terms of a deeper understanding of their customer base, identifying long and short term trends and reactions to specific events. For example, the ability to measure the impact of a new feature or a change to a website process. If the customer experience score changes, the brand can respond accordingly. This will significantly reduce the time spent on identifying issues that cause customer struggle.

There are also significant benefits in terms of enhancing the understanding of individual customers. Struggle and success scores can be integrated with the data companies already hold about individuals. This means you can have more informed, personalized interactions with the customer that take into account how good or bad their online experiences have been. This does not just impact on how you market to your customers but also extends to areas such as customer service, giving you the ability to proactively address issues customers are having.

With customer experience increasingly a major differentiator, Customer Experience Scoring will give you a competitive edge in the fight for customer satisfaction. For the first time you will have instant visibility of customer experience quality.

We’ve hit the ground running in 2016, and as we get underway with new plans and projects we wanted to share with you our predictions for the major developments we anticipate in 2016. Here are some of the big trends we expect to see in customer experience, eCommerce and digital marketing.

 

  1. Data-driven decisions

We expect to see significant developments in the way data is used to formulate marketing and customer experience strategies. Quantitative data rather than qualitative insights and supposed ‘best practice’ will be used to validate decisions and provide valuable insight. Marketers will require a stronger proof of ROI for technology solutions that collate data; it will need to be easier to demonstrate the positive impact data-driven campaigns can have on the bottom line.

  1. Customer-centric roles

In 2015 we saw an announcement by HSBC’s global head of marketing anticipating the end of traditional marketing department roles as the organization becomes more customer-centric, and the need for ‘customer journey engineers’ increases. This trend will ramp up in 2016 for all brands impacting multiple departments across a business. User experience teams will become customer experience teams, and this new role will be key in utilizing quantitative data to improve and manage the customer experience.

  1. Global commerce calendar

With the success of Black Friday growing year-on-year globally, we anticipate other ‘local’ eCommerce days going global. China Singles Day, for example, is hugely successful in China and as UK and US retailers aim to crack this market in 2016, we could see it becoming a huge global event. Whilst such events can hamper the traditional local sales cycle, we can expect to see eCommerce moving to an international calendar of key dates changing the dynamic of previous purchasing trends.

  1. It’s getting personal

Brands will become savvier in the way they personalize the customer experience. Customers will receive offers intelligently tailored to them in real time. We can even expect to see personalized videos as brands develop more creative ways to use the data insight they have garnered, and bring to life in a dynamic way that truly engages the customer and improves their overall experience.

  1. M-commerce momentum

Browsing on a mobile device has become commonplace but purchases via a mobile have been slower to take off. We anticipate seeing an increase in mobile device purchases in 2016, specifically from mobile websites rather than apps. Brands need to ensure their mobile website offerings deliver the experience a customer expects, and provides the appropriate payment mechanisms that are attractive on a mobile device.  With the shipment of tablets on the decline and more people turning to hybrid devices, brands need to ensure they can identify and quantify struggles that customers are having on each device.

Ultimately customer insight will drive a number of key trends in 2016 further proving the value of real time insight of the customer journey. 2016 is set to be an exciting year not only for brands who will understand their customer better but the customer themselves. Here’s to a great year!

 

Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas shopping or the January sales, this time of year is amongst the busiest for retailers.

The pressure is therefore on for eCommerce brands to provide a consistently excellent experience to their customers. Increased visitor traffic can put pressure on the ability to deliver this – so it is more important than ever to understand the customer experience and identify issues affecting your customer journeys before they have a major impact on revenue.

Session replay technologies can help brands uncover this information but, realistically, with the hundreds and thousands of journeys captured every day, it is pretty unachievable to replay a large volume of customer journeys to identity issues.

A more intelligent approach is needed. I’ve provided some top tips to stay on top of the customer experience during the busy periods:

  1. Implement Customer Experience Analytics with Flagged Events

When choosing a customer experience analytics solution, one key requirement is the ability to create flagged events that look for particular indications of struggle behavior (e.g. errors, repeated payment attempts, restarting checkout etc.). These events are counted, aggregated and reports can then show trends over time of these events.  Allied with email alerts, this provides early warning of customer experience issues and drills down to the customer sessions that matter.

  1. Score the Customer Experience

UserReplay has come up with a unique way to numerically score the quality of customer experience. Using the basis of the flagged events described above, UserReplay can score both individual customers and the site as a whole in terms of the quality of experience.  When these scores are measured over time, it is easier to spot sudden degradation in customer experience, and points you to the reasons for this – along with example journeys.

  1. Actionable conversion funnels

Drill down from the key abandonment points in the funnel and understand the issues, allowing for further analysis from here. This has considerably more value and actionability than the static funnels that are typically used in web analytics tools such as Google Analytics.

  1. Understand the Impact

Understanding customer issues is the first step but what eCommerce organizations really need to know is ‘How much will this cost my business?’. UserReplay provides a monetization summary that provides an ‘at-a-glance’ view of the revenue impact of the top customer experience issues. This will help prioritize which issues should be addressed first to minimize the impact of lost sales revenue.

If you are not currently taking a proactive approach to managing your online customer experience, don’t worry, you’re not alone. 71% of organizations believe lack of investment in this area is having an impact on their ability to grow, according to our recent research study, Counting the Cost of not Knowing. The good news is that the technology is available now to address this –  so it is a great time to start your planning for the holiday season in 2016!

In a data rich world, it’s surprising how many brands we come across that lack full visibility of their customers’ experiences. According to the Counting the Cost of not Knowing research report, only one in five eCommerce organisations can fully and accurately quantify the amount of revenue being lost through a less than optimal online customer experience.

Yet in 2014, according to research by e-nor, 67% of Fortune 500 companies were using Google Analytics, 26% Adobe Analytics and 12% Webtrends. Why then, in an age when many organisations are prioritising their online channel, are they experiencing blind spots in their visibility?

Don’t get me wrong, web analytic tools have their purpose, and can be very useful – I would say a majority of our customers use a web analytics tool alongside UserReplay. But herein lies the key: full visibility of the customer experience requires a mix of qualitative and quantitative data insight to achieve true visibility.

Web analytics tools provide the high level facts about your website –  e.g. conversion rates are down – but you need to know the ‘why’ to discover the specific issues that are causing particular situations. It is recognised that one of the best ways to do this is through capturing and replaying customer journeys – thus allowing you to uncover specific issues that are being experienced by real customers. 73% of the eCommerce professionals surveyed in the Counting the Cost of not Knowing research said a combination of quantitative and qualitative feedback on the performance of their online channel is ultimately most useful.

However, being able to replay user sessions is just one element in bridging the visibility void.  The eCommerce and digital marketing functions are busier than ever and nobody has the time to replay hundreds of user sessions trying to find the needle in a haystack.  It is necessary to have a layer of customer experience analytics that directs you to those journeys that are most interesting and relevant.  Also, once an issue has been discovered, these analytics need to provide quick quantification on it’s cost to the business.

Typically, website analytics are usually owned and controlled by the marketing function, and it can be challenging for the wider business to holistically understand their customer base. Sharing and access to the data captured about customer experience is imperative to develop informed strategies, and to measure the impact of those decisions.

The goal for eCommerce brands is to understand their customers’ wants and needs as though they were standing in front of them in a shop. Complete visibility of the customer experience across every facet of the website journey is essential to achieve this.

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It would be fair to assume that the more complex an issue is to fix, the greater the impact on the bottom line. However, in the world of eCommerce, this is not necessarily true.  Quite often, issues that could be fixed relatively easily can have a negative impact on conversion rates and revenue.  More worryingly, many of these issues go undetected.

Finding, prioritising and fixing the issues that have the biggest business impact is key. However, for many organisations this is challenging because they don’t have the visibility to discover them or clearly understand if they are having a significant effect on revenue or conversion. I wanted to share some recent anecdotes from the work we have done with our customers – including some quantifiable results – to show why improving visibility of the customer experience is so significant:

  1. Postcode pitfalls

UserReplay identified a recurring problem affecting the customers of a leading food and beverage company. Users appeared to be entering their postcode on numerous occasions during the purchase process. Further investigation of the impacted journeys found once customers had selected their items and clicked ‘Pay Now’, they were being kicked back to the beginning of the purchase process due to a previously unknown technical issue. With an average basket value of £20, it was calculated this was costing £1.2million a year in potential lost revenue.

  1. Session timeout troubles

Direct Ferries is Europe’s largest ferry ticket retailer. UserReplay identified an issue with .net authentication: for around 20% of mobile devices, the authentication cookie would disappear from page-to-page (when it should actually be persistent for at least 20 mins). For other devices, such as those running Windows, this was only 4%.

Further analysis revealed that the type of cookie being used was not supported on mobile devices.  A simple fix was implemented, which significantly decreased the number of sessions timing out across all devices. Fixing this issue has seen an increase in booking revenue in excess of £1 million per annum!

  1. Voucher code challenges

Conversion rates for a high-end fashion brand dropped from 41% to 19% overnight. UserReplay discovered this was the result of an email being sent to customers including a voucher code that many people found they were unable to use. The qualifying criteria for the voucher was unclear, and in a single day the brand lost £54k of potential revenue, not to mention the damage to brand reputation.

These examples provide a very small glimpse into the vast number of issues that occur on websites every day.  However, they also give an idea of the variety of issues that can impact on conversion rate if left undetected. Complete visibility of the customer experience is the only way to ensure you can identify and quantify these issues accurately.

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When it comes to understanding the customer experience, a driving factor is the positive impact greater visibility would have on the overall conversion rate – in terms of volume and individual basket value. Yet, the costs to a business that result from poor visibility go far beyond conversion rates.

According to the research study “Counting the Cost of Not Knowing”, commissioned by UserReplay, on average it takes eCommerce businesses 2.5 working days to identify and fix an online customer experience issue. That’s a significant amount of man hours that could be better spent elsewhere. The business impact is keenly felt but perhaps much harder to measure.

As IT teams well know it’s difficult to plan for how long an issue will take to resolve so the most obvious way to tackle this resource drain is improving the speed and ability to identify and reproduce issues. Of the eCommerce professionals surveyed, the report found 62% use web analytics and 47% use customer surveys – the most likely tools to be used to try and find unknown conversion issues. From our experience we know that these tools don’t always give the full picture, and can present a misleading view of what and where the issues lie and the severity.

The effects, however, extend further than the resource drain on the IT team. This lack of understanding of the customer journey impacts an organization’s ability to effectively plan and make decisions. 90% say it makes planning and decision-making around online marketing activity more difficult. The success of a marketing strategy hinges on fully understanding the customer demographics wants and needs; without this planning it is reliant on guesswork, which can lead to a waste of valuable marketing budget.

Unsurprisingly organizations are therefore looking for ways to reduce these hidden costs to the business by improving customer journey visibility. These include quantitative data capture that helps IT prioritize what to fix first (97%), qualitative data that gives them detail around the User Experience (95%), and easy to understand reports focused on website issues (93%).

With businesses already stretched resource-wise, there is considerable value in being able to prioritize which website issues to fix first and reduce the time taken to reproduce those issues.  There is also great value in being able to plan marketing activity more effectively. A business that can use data from the customer journey will see the results positively reflected on the bottom line – not just from a pure rise in conversions but wider business cost savings.

You can download the complete research study, “Counting the Cost of Not Knowing”, from the UserReplay website here.

Online Customer Experience is fast becoming a competitive battleground for eCommerce brands. 89% of eCommerce professionals surveyed in our independent study The Online Customer Experience – Counting the Cost of Not Knowing see it as a significant differentiator in business.

However, while the general awareness of the importance of Customer Experience is increasing, many businesses are struggling to get a handle on the difficulties customers are facing every day, and are currently finding themselves on the back foot in resolving these issues. 85% of the UK and US eCommerce professionals surveyed said understanding why customers may struggle with their website is a current challenge. Even more concerning is that, on average, 50% of the difficulties experienced by customers on their own website are unknown. This represents a huge number of issues going undetected and unresolved. How can businesses ever realistically quantify the impact on the bottom line with such a huge gap in their visibility?

Unsurprisingly, the consequences of the lack of customer visibility is proving a challenge for many eCommerce organisations – 71% think a lack of investment in Online Customer Experience is impacting growth in their organisation. Furthermore, sub-optimal Customer Experience is resulting in reduced online conversion rates (43%), reputational damage (38%), preventing repeat business (30%) and eroding online revenue potential (28%).

In our experience, many kinds of issues – including technical errors, usability problems, application logic issues and navigation confusion – can have a significant impact on a customer’s ability and willingness to purchase. However, without visibility of these issues, considerable time and resource can be spent on finding and fixing without having any idea if it will positively impact the conversion rate. Basic web analytics and website performance tools will only give half the picture and perhaps, most importantly, can often be misleading in flagging issues that need to be resolved.  This causes a greater headache down the line. The most effective way is a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. Of those surveyed, 97% want qualitative data that gives detail around the User Experience, reports on websites issues and assurances that websites are meeting compliance regulations. Also, 91% want quantification of the cost to the business in terms of lost revenue. The mix of the two gives the clearest indication of the Customer Experience.

Ultimately, businesses can only truly improve Customer Experience by having visibility into the online experience from the customer perspective. Only then can they really discover the truth about why customers fail to convert.

The Online Customer Experience – Counting the Cost of Not Knowing research study is available to download now.