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Business observability and customer experience: A competitive edge for financial services

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the financial services industry had to adapt quickly, as long-anticipated shifts in customer preferences—from branch offices and bankers to websites and apps – suddenly became the new normal. At the same time, deregulation fuels massive investments in fintech startups and opens doors for tech giants to point their data-centric innovation engines towards financial services. Consumer, commercial, and investment banking choices have never been so abundant—or so easy to access. In fact, more than half of US consumers rely on three or more banking apps, and industry churn rates are at an all-time high.

It’s no surprise, then, that financial services companies have adapted their competitive strategies to emphasize customer experience over product and usability over location through the use of business observability. Customer experience has become the brand, bringing IT new opportunities—and challenges. Here’s a look at how two financial institutions are responding to these new business priorities; the details are anonymized to make the examples illustrative, but you may be familiar with some of the challenges.

Customer 1: Betting on business KPIs

Our first story comes from a commercial bank serving clients with funds transfers and currency exchanges. Customer calls—complaints and requests for help—kept the call center busy. Requests for help with transactions that are intended to be self-service put the app owner on the defensive; many of these problems were difficult to resolve and had to be escalated to IT. But with poor problem descriptions and dozens of different potential user journeys, IT struggled to triage the complaints and prioritize effectively.

The app owner had already been walking a thin line, promising measurable improvement to business stakeholders while relying on IT operations to identify and fix the problems that mattered most. But the complaints kept coming, and the already strained relationships reached an unpleasant breaking point when the division’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) dropped.

The app owner recognized the need to find common ground. The ops team understood the concept of business metrics like NPS, conversions rates, even call center volume—but believed these KPIs were meant for other teams. Similarly, IT’s solid SLOs and Apdex scores—important metrics agreed upon by the app owner and IT—were met with a lack of enthusiasm by the business team.

The customer journey is the experience

The app owner and ops team agreed to begin tracking a subset of key business KPIs, with the explicit goal of understanding how performance metrics influence business outcomes. The application supports two key business goals: bank transfers and currency exchanges. Completing these tasks without friction leads to satisfied customers—or net promoters. To gain better insight into these tasks, IT expanded their monitoring perspective to include key user journeys and their conversion goals, leveraging the discrete page-level metrics they were already collecting.

The pilot focused on three user journeys most important to the app owner, to be expanded in phase two to cover additional user journeys. Adding such business relevance is a simple process:

  1. For each user journey, identify the steps—key user actions—and conversion goal
  2. Build user journey funnels to represent these journeys
  3. Add user experience context to each step; they chose Apdex, duration, and errors
Business observability and customer experience: A competitive edge for financial services
A facsimile of the funds transfer user journey dashboard

This wasn’t a change in what the IT team was monitoring; they already had visibility into page performance metrics and aggregate Apdex scores. Instead, it represents two simple but important shifts in perspective:

  1. Configuring user journeys aligns the monitoring view with the business goals the application facilitates.
  2. Finer granularity in Apdex scores and errors—now focused on journey-specific key user actions rather than applications and audience segments alone—gives these user experience metrics greater actionability through new business relevance.

Customer 2: Seeing is believing

Our next customer is an asset management company serving private and institutional investors—a demanding audience. Whether opting for automated investment options or choosing self-directed portfolio diversification, users expect to accomplish their goals quickly, easily, and securely—from their desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

The firm’s IT operations team was no stranger to customer complaints. They kept a keen eye on user journeys and conversions, paying careful attention to feature updates and new releases to ensure these don’t negatively affect user experience or business outcomes. Similarly, the company’s omnichannel team listened carefully to their customers through multiple Voice of the Customer (VoC) solutions, successfully uncovering and fixing more than a few UX issues. But the omnichannel team found that many of the problems raised through VoC feedback were ultimately the responsibility of the operations team. The resulting delay in handoff exposed more customers to the problem, and the lack of supporting diagnostic details limited IT’s ability to respond.

Up-leveling collaboration

The two teams knew they needed to collaborate better, especially on problem escalations. Usability complaints and user frustrations—whether reported via chat, online VoC feedback, and surveys, or phone calls—are easier to understand and correct with the appropriate context. But even well-intentioned customers are not QA engineers, and their problem descriptions can be vague or even misleading. To address this challenge, the ops team configured Dynatrace RUM to capture VoC session IDs for all feedback made through real-time VoC feedback and chat sessions. When customer problems are referred to IT, the escalation ticket now includes the VoC session ID, allowing IT to view the complaining user’s session details and watch the user’s activity through Session Replay. Below shows an example from our demo app with the VoC session ID highlighted:

Business observability and customer experience: A competitive edge for financial services
User session details with VoC Session ID property

This connection between the VoC feedback and Dynatrace user sessions paid off quickly; within the first few weeks, IT uncovered and resolved a handful of problems, some of which had been present for months. Here’s one example:

A client became frustrated after multiple attempts to fund a new account, ultimately abandoning the process. But abandon rates for the Fund Account user journey typically exceed 75%, and a single instance is easily lost in the numbers. However, this user took the time to provide feedback, clicking on the VoC feedback tab [+] to express frustration with the website. This triggered an investigation; using the VoC session ID, IT had immediate visibility into the user’s session details, which showed quite a few rage clicks. Session Replay provided the video evidence: Partway through the funding user journey, the user was confronted with a confusing error message, one that conflicted with the instructions for the form field. Compounding the problem, attempts to go back a step were met with unresponsive breadcrumbs, forcing the user to start over. After the third attempt, the user gave up.

In fact, there are many ways to connect your VoC solutions to Dynatrace beyond capturing session IDs, promising to improve collaboration, and help you optimize customer experience; some of these are highlighted in this recent blog post: How Voice of the Customer solutions can transform digital experience monitoring.

Dynatrace and business observability

Successful collaboration between business and IT operations teams starts with shared goals and shared metrics. Contact your account team to see how you can advance your already-valuable contributions to customer experience excellence.