A Day in the Life of Tech Torment: Part 3

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This is Part Three of a four-part series on ‘A Day in the Life of Tech Torment’

Chapter 3: Bringing the Performance of Desktop to Mobile and Web-Based Applications

If you’re just checking in, catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 of Sooraya’s story here.

Customers are increasingly transacting their business through mobile devices, both dedicated mobile applications and via the mobile browser for mobile specific web sites. If customers have poor mobile experiences, studies show that 80%+ will delete an app. Even if they don’t delete the app, they may leave poor app store rankings and comments for your app on social media, all of which will have a negative effect on your brand equity.

Sooraya sits in JFK International on a bustling Sunday, clutching her passport and her ticket as she waits to board her plane. She’s never been to Paris, but her sister has been pestering her to visit for ages and she’s finally on her way. She runs down the mental list of instructions she left for her employees and family. Everything should be fine.

Still, it never hurts to be cautious, especially financially. On an impulse, Sooraya decides to transfer a few hundred dollars from her bank account to the prepaid debit card she’ll be using for the trip. She pulls out her phone and logs into her online banking account. As she does, she notices that the bank’s mobile app has recently updated. She taps in her transfer amount and hits the transfer button. Nothing happens. She waits impatiently until the app crashes.

Gritting her teeth, Sooraya attempts the transfer again. The same crash occurs. Knowing it’s futile, Sooraya nevertheless makes a third attempt, yielding the same results.

A flight attendant calls her group to board and Sooraya stuffs her phone into her carry on, frustrated. Hopefully the site will be working again when she gets to Paris. Hopefully she’ll be able to call if it isn’t. Still, it’s a bit of added stress that Sooraya didn’t need.

Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than apps and websites not being able to complete essential functions, especially when time is limited. By tracking the quality of their new app releases with mobile RUM, Sooraya’s bank would have noticed the amount of crashes users were experiencing. With the right instrumentation, they could have proactively resolved the issue before it reached Sooraya. Instead, Sooraya is boarding her flight frustrated and stressed.

Sooraya doesn’t usually like using her bank’s mobile website on her phone, as the app is more secure. As she boards the plane and finds her seat, she figures she has little choice. She pulls up the mobile website on her phone’s browser and attempts the transfer again.

Unbelievably, the mobile website isn’t working either. She hits the transfer button only to stare at a white screen for long minutes until an error message pops up.

“Can I get you something?” asks a flight attendant as the passes.

“A water and a sleeping pill the size of Starkiller Base,” Sooraya mutters. The attendant doesn’t catch the reference and just smiles blandly. Sooraya gives her phone one more furious look before kicking off her shoes and preparing for a long, stressful flight.

Sooraya’s bank could have caught and remedied the issue with their mobile website before it failed customer transactions by proactively engaging in synthetic monitoring before they launched their upgrade. By proactively testing critical user journeys, companies can identify problems with third party providers in the Business Transaction that impact the overall functionality of the site. Synthetic monitoring provides a preemptive, continual check of website and app functions by means of external agents. These agents continually visit websites, run scripted transactions, and provide extensive amounts of data and full waterfall charts of performance. The strength of synthetic monitoring is in its predictability and control. By specifying exactly what functions the vendor wants the external agent to test and when, the data output is both continuous and specific. It has none of the white noise or superfluous data of real-user monitoring (RUM)

Websites are getting more complex by the year. New apps are developed every day. The cutting edge upgrades vendors launch in winter can be dated and obsolete by spring. This is why end-user monitoring can feel a bit like fighting the mythical Hydra. When one problem is solved, two more spring up to replace it, and any one of these issues can affect customer satisfaction. By running predetermined scripts that test every function individually, vendors can determine whether impact events are server related or a result of issues with third-party functions. This drastically reduces the mean time to resolution (MTTR) and proportionally impacts end-user satisfaction.

Diagnosing issues as they occur is one of the functions of synthetic monitoring, but its true strength is in its ability to eliminate those issues proactively. Synthetic monitoring doesn’t involve actual end-users. For this reason, vendors can test new functions and upgrades before they go on the market, eliminating problems before they affect customers. This pre-production check of every new and existing functionality builds a culture of performance within a company.

Sooraya’s previous negative experience could have been avoided had her bank used both synthetic monitoring to preemptively test their new upgrades before they were launched and mobile RUM to monitor for crashes, especially in their third party functions like the transfer button. Had Sooraya’s bank implemented mobile RUM they would have seen the increased crash rates on critical functionality like money transfer. The bank now has to address her request via their call center, causing customer frustration and higher customer service costs for the bank.

Abelardo Gonzalez

Abelardo Gonzalez

Abelardo is a leading expert in web and mobile performance with over 13 years of industry experience. He holds a master's degree from Governors State University, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Edward’s University. Abelardo regularly contributes to technology publications such as Mobile Strategies 360 & Internet Retailing.