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U-Haul optimizes digital experience with Dynatrace Session Replay

Session Replay has changed the way U-Haul works and their ability to deliver a seamless digital experience to their customers.

Moving to a new house is always stressful. Renting moving equipment should be the least concern. U-Haul, the largest ‘DIY’ moving company in the U.S. and Canada, supplies rental equipment to help more than 10 million customers move every year across more than 21,000 locations. Running such a huge operation relies on many different applications to support the digital experience of customers, employees, and dealership partners.

Chief among these is U-Haul’s custom-built Point of Sale (PoS) application, which supports field-users at third-party dealerships, who handle equipment rentals. However, when users reported digital experience problems with the PoS application, U-Haul’s teams didn’t have the real-user monitoring capabilities to identify what was wrong.

Brian Rutherford, Director of Software Development at U-Haul, sat down with us at Perform 2021 to discuss this challenge and explain how his team overcame it with Dynatrace’s Session Replay.

Understanding why their approach wasn’t working

Rutherford explained why it was difficult for U-Haul to identify the cause of digital experience problems reported by field users. He recalled, “When we’re dealing with millions of transactions and one person had an issue, trying to go through custom metrics or logging to figure out what they did is very time consuming. If we call people back and say, can you give us more detail on what you did? It’s very unlikely they’re going to remember, even if it was a few hours ago.”

As a result, U-Haul was often unable to understand where problems were coming from, what they looked like to the user, and why they were happening.

How Session Replay took U-Haul beyond real-user monitoring

U-Haul started using Dynatrace’s Session Replay capability, and as Rutherford put it, “It’s been huge for us; one of the best things we’ve ever implemented.”

Session Replay enables U-Haul to see precisely what users see when interacting with its digital applications. Teams can replay the digital experience in a movie-like interface, which adds visual context to every click, tap, or swipe in the PoS system.

Time that U-Haul’s teams previously spent trying to recreate user sessions can now be spent resolving issues. “We have a much faster mean time to resolution,” Rutherford continued. “We’re fixing problems faster for the field. And since our PoS is web-based, we can deploy changes very quickly and everybody gets those fixes.” This has helped U-Haul accelerate its development pipeline and fix bugs faster, enabling its teams to continuously optimize the digital experience for its users.

How U-Haul is building a better digital experience

But it isn’t just about fixing bugs. Session Replay helps U-Haul identify where the digital experience could be better. To illustrate this, Rutherford shared an example session from a field user. He explained that when they receive rental equipment back from customers, dealers must inspect it, then digitally sign to verify it is safe to rent to another customer. Through Session Replay, U-Haul could see a particular user was struggling with the digital experience when trying to enter their password.

Rutherford explained what they were seeing as the customer’s struggle unfolded. “It takes them a while to type it in because they’re on a mobile phone,” he said. “Then you see they got a message that they didn’t type in their password, so now they’re trying to paste it in. They’re really having a hard time just getting past this screen. Our security policies require users to create long passwords, but working on a mobile device, that’s kind of a bummer. This isn’t a defect. The software is working, but it’s frustrating. This is going to waste their time.”

These insights showed U-Haul how they could proactively improve the digital experience. “This teaches us how we can improve the application and encourage users to opt for a four-digit pin to digitally sign, not their entire password,” Rutherford continued. “It’s literally like we’re standing there at the location with them, watching them use our software.”

U-Haul’s plans to expand

Later this year, U-Haul plans to extend its use of Session Replay into customer-facing services, such as U-Haul.com. The company plans to harness its unique capabilities to see how customers use its website, and identify areas where customers commonly get stuck, to make the site more intuitive. “Being able to move just from working with our internal team members and our dealers to our actual customers and seeing what they’re doing with our flagship website? I’m really excited about that,” Rutherford continued.

As the session drew to a close, Rutherford said, “I can’t speak highly enough of how much Session Replay has changed the way we work and how we interact with our customers. It has changed the game for us, and I hope other people see this and really give it a shot to see what it can do for them.”

You can watch the full interview here:

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