How quickly customer loyalty disappears when customer facing applications don't work

The Internet makes gift giving easy! Take, for example, my younger brother’s recent birthday. I emailed “What do you want for your birthday? Tell me or you get nothing.” To which, he promptly responded, “I want these” and inserted a link to some workout stuff from a major athletics retailer. (My little bro is VERY into triathlons. Me, not so much.) This is great, I think to myself, no need to go to a store, no need to wrap the present (or even buy the wrapping paper) as I’m SURE there is an option to over pay for the packaged to be gift wrapped at checkout, and no need to hit the post office for a riveting 45 min wait in line! Jackpot!


I clicked the link in the e-mail, selected the size, and quantity (I was extra generous because this was going to be SO easy), and hit the checkout button. That’s when everything went wrong and the temporary joy I’d just experienced was sucked from my body!


As a customer, this is where I would just say “the website isn't working.” As someone who works with web applications and user experience monitoring software for a living, I knew something bigger was going on here so I kept trying. Four tries later (I got less generous with every try!) I gave up and called a local retail store. Unfortunately, they were out of stock, so back to the website I went for a FIFTH try! I finally ended up on the phone with a customer service agent, got the stuff ordered and even got free shipping after going through my sob story. I stuck with the retailer in the end because I was desperate (of course I had wanted until the day before his birthday to order the gift) not because I was loyal.


We've all been in this situation. You want to buy something, perform a transaction, transfer money, [insert any other activity you do over the Internet] via a web application and it just stops working. As customers, we all have the option to take our business elsewhere or use a different method to get the task done. As the company providing the poor user experience that drives customers away, those other options cost you big bucks in lost revenue or in increased costs! I guarantee my call to the customer service agent cost the company much more than if I had just succeeded in my original transaction.


In a world of endless options and discounts, how do you ensure that web application user experience breeds loyalty? If you haven’t already, I recommend looking into a real user monitoring solution with session playback capabilities (shameless plug, yes, Foglight offers these capabilities). Without a real user monitoring solution, you have no visibility into the end user experience and performance of your web application. With end user monitoring, you can see, in real time, when web application performance is degrading and when that performance has started to impact end users.


At the end of the day, we customers are a finicky bunch. We are bombarded with offers that are newer, better, cheaper, faster, etc. When web application user experience degrades, customer loyalty and patience quickly disappears along with their money.