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Why tech complexity is a customer experience issue

03 Feb 2021

Article by New Relic executive vice president and general manager for APAC and Japan, Dmitri Chen.
 

Securing new customers and expanding existing users’ consumption is all about a businesses’ ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

The digital customer experience is everything that customers experience via software. It’s the entire virtual storefront: the ‘face’ of your business. And who’s developing these business-critical experiences? Software developers.

One of the biggest problems facing the business world is that their developers spend a significant proportion of their time troubleshooting issues. Large organisations have incredibly complex tech stacks and thousands of applications. Development teams have their hands full managing those apps while balancing escalation management and outages. More often than not, they are using a plethora of tools that don’t talk to each other resulting in blind spots.

Developers didn’t get into the profession to troubleshoot problems all day. They want to spend their time writing new code and developing new customer experiences.
 

Measuring the digital customer (and developer) experience

Ultimately being able to find issues before customers do is the most important priority. If a customer experiences an outage, an error or a slow site, it’s very easy for them to go to another provider. 

When we measure customer experience, we can look at metrics such as response time, number of errors and lost time with customers. But what we also need to do is measure how developers feel. The volume of issues they are dealing with and the time to resolution ultimately translates to productivity and developer (dis)satisfaction.

What are some of the causes of these issues? Tech complexity, sprawling networks, distributed infrastructure, data silos, a plethora of apps, and legacy software/hardware.

Organisations can’t afford to deliver a poor customer experience: downtime is very costly. Gartner calculates the average cost to be US$5,600 per minute. Costco is estimated to have lost $11 million when its site went down for several hours. 

Then there are the human costs: stress and fatigue on the IT team, and a drop in productivity and work on other projects.

If developers can’t create new features and experiences, innovation grinds to a halt. The success of Zoom demonstrates this. It has a culture of continuous innovation, it’s constantly bringing in CX enhancements to the marketplace, and it has left slower competitors in the dust.

Operational efficiency and instrumentation; cost predictability; mean time to resolution (MTTR) — this all sounds like dull stuff to senior management. What executives and boards want to talk about is how to take customer share. 

The way to gain customers is through an excellent customer experience and time-to-market of new products and services. How to do that effectively? With software developers that spend their time writing code, versus troubleshooting. 

Organisations can achieve this by equipping developers with the right tools to consolidate and automate troubleshooting. This includes applied intelligence technologies that can predictively detect issues and proactively defuse them before they impact the customer experience.
 

Why the right tools are critical for CX

The number of monitoring tools on the market has spiralled along with the number of apps they monitor. But few tools deliver a single source of truth into the end-to-end performance of the full stack. According to a UBS Evidence Lab report, most DevOps teams use an average of four to five tools to perform their job daily, everything from APM to log management to SIEM.

Juggling multiple monitoring tools creates blind spots, increases toil, and makes it harder to diagnose issues. Effectively it’s ‘siloed monitoring’, not true end-to-end observability. 

Instead, IT teams need a platform to aggregate every type of telemetry data and get full-stack observability. This is a single-source-of-truth that lets developers and engineers troubleshoot, debug, and optimise performance across their entire stack, far more quickly. One unified experience that provides connected context and surfaces meaningful analytics — all the way into end-user experience — without having to onboard new tools or switch between them.

If devs are continually putting out fires because they don’t have the tools they need to test and troubleshoot thoroughly and fast, chances are customers won’t be customers for long. Tool consolidation and rationalisation is an operational efficiency play; it feeds into developer experience, which feeds into customer experience.