Understanding the Customer Journey with User Session Tracking

February 23 2016

Understand, track and improve how your customer uses your digital products such as on-line via mobile applications, web sites and web applications.

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From the C-level on down throughout enterprise organizations, whether a disruptive start-up or an established Fortune heavyweight, companies are focused on digital innovation of new products and services and digital transformation of long established product lines, services, and processes.

Key to these innovation and transformation initiatives is a laser focus on all aspects of and everything that contributes to the customer experience (CX), because if the CX is poor, then all of the time, effort, and money that goes into acquiring, retaining, and monetizing customers could go for naught, as the data clearly shows that customers will quickly abandon an experience that performs poorly. This is increasingly critical as customer interactions with an enterprise’s products and services move on-line via mobile applications and web sites and web applications.

In order to improve the customer experience, it is imperative to understand every aspect of the customer’s journey as they interact with site or mobile application. In particular, the performance of the site or app throughout the customer journey is essential to the ultimate customer experience and will have a profound affect on many key performance indicators such as conversions, bounce rates, customer satisfaction, and many more.

Each interaction constitutes a user session which may span many screen views of a mobile application or page views of a web site/application. Consequently, the ability to track these user sessions and understand how the product or service performed during each step and over all is a foundational capability for the digital innovations and transformation initiatives that are being driven from the executive suite.

From lead generation to conversion

In a recent study of over 400 respondents responsible for web and mobile applications conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by AppDynamics, the overwhelming majority indicated that their users have to step through more than 4 pages or steps to convert and 40% said 7 or more pages are required for a user to convert.  In this journey a poor performing page or request in the user flow can cause an engaged customer to abandon the page due to slowness or errors.

Understanding the end-to-end path a customer traverses on a site is critical to managing the application and ensuring they have a winning user experience.  In the past, teams have used web analytics tools to capture and chart user behavior but most tools have a very clear purpose of tracking marketing analytics and may not capture 100% of user traffic and very limited performance metrics.  Even more importantly, these web marketing analytics tools provide no correlation between the page being rendered and all of the back-end systems and applications involved in generating the data used on the page.

Using the enhanced unified monitoring platform of AppDynamics with real user sessions, tracking the journey of 100% of your users and reporting on visual based performance metrics will fill the gap to better manage end user experience.

To best manage user experience, the performance of the complete sequence of pages in the correct order is necessary to uncover where users are falling off the performance conversion funnel.  Capturing 100% of site visits also enables journey analysis to uncover performance issues on pages that may not have been identified as critical to the conversion path. With the full data capture and dynamically baselined you can then focus on uncovering the cause of page slowness by analyzing page resources or business transactions that are impacting every step of the user journey.

As you manage the application performance you can map the sequence of business transactions (BTs) a typical user traverses and proactively address issues before they impact the user’s end result which may cause site abandonment and unrealized revenue. Rather than just looking at individual BTs, the user session makes it possible to see all of the BTs grouped logically as a coherent set that were involved in a particular page view or mobile app screen view. And with the BTs grouped by the series of pages or screens viewed during a single session, it becomes possible to identify problems that may only surface as a result of a very particular sequence of code being invoked in your back-end applications, databases, and systems of record.

As a result, the user sessions capabilities also enables improved customer service and support through faster identification and resolution of problems in the app or site or in the back-end applications and infrastructure that are invoked as a result of requests made during the user session.

Furthermore, the user session data can be enriched with your own custom user data, which could consist of user IDs, email addresses, log-in data, or other information you may have to identify a particular customer. This custom data of yours is then also correlated with the automatic GUID of the session data and can be used to further enhance customer support and other user cases.

If the customer has a problem and calls in or opens a support ticket or chat window, the enriched information can be used with the user session data for support personnel to be able to search or ever session initiated by the customer and to see every step that the customer made in any particular session up until the point that they had the problem, making it faster and easier for you to resolve the problem for the customer, which will improve the customer experience and lead to better KPIs such as increased sales, more revenue or better profitability.

User session tracking also becomes a foundational technology for advanced application analytics (see [Insert URL to 4.2 Application Analytics blog]) for additional information on how Application Analytics enables advanced capabilities for Funnel analysis and optimization and other capabilities. Together, these powerful tools enable IT and Operations to provide the business with the information needed to improve and succeed.

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Want to learn more about sessions and our 4.2 launch? Register for our webinar here!

Peter Kacandes
Peter has over 16 years in the tech industry, focusing on mobile applications. He's worked for top tech companies including Actuate, Sony Ericsson, Adobe, and Sun Microsystems.

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