Protecting your online brand investment

A few brands, such as John Lewis, seem to effortlessly retain their reputation for quality and service while others see their star rise and fall.

Sometimes that fall can be driven by the changing desires of customers, who may remain loyal to brand A for a year or so before seeing something more appealing in competitor brand B.

But while customers can indeed be fickle, great online customer experience can keep customers loyal to a site they trust and reduce the temptation of moving to a new one.

The invisible experience

Unlike say, the queues in a supermarket or the faces of diners wondering when their food is going to arrive, the problems faced by digital customers often may not be apparent.

The web is, after all, a self-service medium; consumers just “get on with it”. Managers know how many customers visit every day, how many convert and the average order value. They also know how many people bounce from the home or landing page or press on towards checkout but then abandon their shopping carts. All these statistics tell you whether the site is performing well or badly but they don’t say anything about the actual experience of the customers.

For instance, it can be identified that there is a lower than average conversion rate across parts of the product range but what the statistics don’t reveal is what aspect of the “customer experience” is driving the less than optimal experience.

In other words, while a supermarket manager can see a long queue at the check out, a marketer can’t see the comparable problem on the site.

The long and the short of it

The short-term effect is lower sales. But in the longer term the consequences may be much more damaging. Let’s say it’s a usability problem. Thanks to bad design, some customers are finding it difficult to find what they want because the classification of products on the navigation bars is unclear. As a result, customers are getting sidetracked and many drop out. And when they leave they have a diminished opinion of the brand.

And here’s the thing, in an age where the web increasingly provides the main touch point between the customer and company, any shortfall in the digital experience will undoubtedly affect perceptions of the brand across all channels.

Protecting your investment

So how do you protect your brand investment? Well, it’s essential to continually monitor your site to identify problems and put them right before they begin to do brand damage.

One highly effective way to do this is record and replay customer journeys using UserReplay’s platform. It works like this: all journeys are recorded and when problems are suspected on a site – say an unusually high drop off rate on a section page – you can replay selected journeys and follow the customers page-by-page and click-by-click. In doing this, you see the site as they see it and you can understand the problems they encounter.

For instance, you might find that on a certain page, key links such as the click-through to checkout are sitting outside the screen on certain browsers or devices and are thus invisible without scrolling. This error in the rendering is deterring certain customers. Rather than scrolling down, they assume that the page doesn’t work so they go elsewhere. You can really only detect this kind of issue by seeing the site through the customer’s eyes.

And once identified and quantified, the problem can be solved quickly. Checks like these not only boost the performance of the site, they also protect not only the reputation of the online business but the brand as a whole.