Harvard Business Review Study Reveals How Real-Time Data Drives Deep Customer Loyalty

May 30 2019

Access Harvard Business Review's exclusive report to gain research-backed insights into why app performance is now inseparable from customer loyalty.

Consumers today are more empowered, engaged, and connected than ever before. Their expectations are constantly on the rise and the buying journey is rarely linear. But while all of this has been a win for the consumer, it’s made it far more complicated for businesses to deliver customer experiences that actually move the needle on customer loyalty and retention.

To create loyal customers in the age of unlimited choice, organizations must provide exceptional experiences across every customer touchpoint, every time. In fact, new customer loyalty research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals that “The strength of a company’s customer loyalty relies heavily on the quality of the experiences it offers its clientele. These experiences, in turn, increasingly involve apps.”

In today’s digital landscape, flawless application performance has become essential to customer loyalty. In fact, nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents in a recent AppDynamics survey said they have taken their business elsewhere due to poor digital experiences, and a quarter would be less likely to use the service in the future. So, how can organizations deliver app experiences that drive customer loyalty? The answer may surprise you.

Creating Loyal Customers in the Digital Age

As it turns out, the key to greater customer loyalty is real-time CX performance data that is easily accessible by cross-functional teams. The Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Report, “Using Real-Time Data to Drive Deep Customer Loyalty,” reveals, “Companies with the greatest amount of customer loyalty have much more frequent access to CX performance data, often in real time. They also involve the largest number of functions to assess and improve the CX.”

The study also found that more than 30 percent of leaders said they could access CX app performance data in real time, compared to just 4 percent of laggards. And nearly 40 percent of laggards wait a month between app performance reports, despite the fact that app performance metrics—like app crashes and time from app request to page load—have a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

As James Walker, global head of analytics at London-based OC&C Strategy Consultants, notes, “Strategic metrics such as average cart size or number of new customers acquired take time to act on and improve. So this data doesn’t have to be reported in real time. App performance, on the other hand, often needs immediate action since it impacts the quality of experience in the moment. The faster a company has access to this data, the better off it will be.”

How IKEA Uses Real-Time Performance Data

IKEA—the popular Swedish retailer known for its cult-like customer following—is one company leveraging real-time CX performance data to boost customer loyalty. With real-time app performance metrics, the company can keep tabs on the entire online shopping experience to deliver the app experience its customers expect.

The company thoroughly tracks how often an app crashes and the performance of business transactions in a customer’s online sessions. By doing so, IKEA can tie these metrics to strategic business KPIs such as the conversion rate of online prospects to customers.

Winning the Battle for Customer Loyalty

Organizations that arm cross-functional teams with frequent, real-time CX performance data are far more successful at delivering app experiences that drive customer loyalty and retention. And when increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent, the business impact is clear. Without real-time access to quality app performance data, an organization can never fully optimize its customers’ digital experience—or its bottom line.

Access the Full Research

For more exclusive insights from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services’ research into the relationship between app performance, customer experience, and brand loyalty, download the report: Using Real-Time Data to Drive Deep Customer Loyalty.

Matt Cleve
Matt Cleve is Director & Global Lead for Business iQ at AppDynamics. With more than 10 years of business and IT operations analytics experience, Matt works with AppDynamics customers to help them bring together the world of performance and business health for their critical applications.

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