Digital channels are tightening their grip on businesses around the world, replacing face-to-face and the telephone as the primary way of delivering products and services.
Companies that don’t embrace new business models and enhance their digital user experience face the consequence of being displaced by those that do. Digital channels are at the heart of nearly every successful enterprise today.
But unlike face-to-face or telephone, digital channels rarely afford companies the opportunity to hear, let alone resolve, why a customer decided not to buy from them.
'Satisfied and loyal customers are the foundation of every successful business,' says Audelia Boker, vice president of marketing at Glassbox Digital, a digital solutions firm headquartered in London. 'Achieving this previously meant putting employees through extensive customer service and sales training. Now the dominant way customers interact with a company is through websites and mobile apps, which do not have customer-facing staff helping them through the process.
'These digital services must be entirely responsive to customers’ needs and easy to use. Not only so customers experience the brand positively, but to ensure their time on the website or app actually converts into a sale.'
For many companies, the conversion rates on digital channels are not as high as they should be. They’re spending millions of pounds on digitizing their business, but they don’t clearly understand how customers experience their services or what they want. Web analytics tools may partially identify areas of struggle, but they lack visibility into the real difficulties customers face when using the digital channels.
'Digital channels rarely afford companies the opportunity to hear, let alone resolve, why a customer decided not to buy from them'
This impacts almost all of a business’ functions and limits its ability to respond to and fix problems. Analytics teams spend extensive time and resources trying to maintain digital channels and optimize conversion rates, but have little visibility into the root causes of abandoned transactions. They don’t know if it’s a problem with the website itself, the device used to access it, the network or something unique to the customer.
'The lack of insight rebounds across the business, restricting the abilities of marketing teams to fully understand online customer journeys and optimize conversion rates, sales teams to sell confidently and intelligently, risk and compliance departments to properly manage record keeping, and IT teams to reduce errors in an agile manner,' says Mrs Boker.
Meanwhile, customer service agents don’t have the support to resolve issues raised by customers, who failed to get what they wanted online, and legal teams are in reactive mode with new regulations and European Commission directives that require time-stamped and encrypted records of all digital communications, such as MiFID II and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
'To comply, companies will need to be able to instantly retrieve specific sessions, automatically monitor all digital channels, and undertake reviews and investigations of digital channels,' says Mrs Boker.
To address the requirements of GDPR, which comes into force in May 2018, Glassbox enables large organizations to find all the sessions made by customers who want to exercise their right to be forgotten or obtain what personal data is being processed.
For one prominent global high street bank, these challenges were all too real. With most customers choosing to switch or open an account online, the promise of a stress-free switch is often diminished. If an issue persists, what would have been a happy new customer may look elsewhere because the bank is too difficult to deal with.
The bank was doing the right things, listening carefully to issues being flagged by its customers. But despite using sophisticated web analytics tools, the root causes often remained a mystery, so the problems persisted. The bank was experiencing low conversion rates in the opening process of online banking accounts, which no one in its IT or digital teams was able to explain.
The bank turned to Glassbox for a solution to gain more visibility into digital behaviours and customer experience analytics. With Glassbox’s technology, the bank was able to record, replay and analyse every online customer journey. With the new insights provided by Glassbox, the bank was able to review and address customer issues rapidly, and provide information for other areas of the business to act upon.
In one specific instance, the Glassbox solution helped the bank to identify and fix an urgent problem that was preventing up to 4% of customers from being able to login. Glassbox also showed the bank that its low success rates in account opening was caused by anomalies with certain postcodes and non-English characters in names. Customers affected by the anomalies were being ejected from the website before they were able to complete the account-opening process.
When this happened, no error message or explanation was prompted, leaving customers angry and frustrated. And when they called the contact centre hoping to resolve the issue, the customer service agents couldn’t explain it. 'The bank knew it had the issue,' says Mrs Boker. 'But trying to get to the root causes was like looking for a needle in a haystack.'
Glassbox has also been able to reveal areas for improvement and new opportunities for the bank, such as the existing demand for small, very short-term loans. For other customers, such as insurance firm Direct Seguros, it fights against e-fraud. The Spanish entity of AXA Group has significantly decreased actuarial risk by identifying visitors who seek lower insurance quotes by changing their answers on medical and lifestyle forms.
Without the need for any technical expertise, business teams can quickly analyse whether issues reported by customers are one-off occurrences or a much larger problem, such as broken or overly complicated processes, how the page is presented and viewed or a technical fault.
'That needle can now be found very rapidly indeed,' says Mrs Boker. 'Our clients are now able to analyse far more data and derive deeper, actionable insights far quicker. Often, analysis time has dramatically decreased from weeks to just a few minutes.'
Understanding the online customer journey, however, is just the first step to achieving success in the digital economy. Once enterprises have improved their understanding of customer behaviours by detecting anomalies, the next step will be to utilize machine-learning and prescriptive analytics to predict and remedy the issues before they harm the business.