Dixons Carphone enhances user experience with intelligent performance monitoring
Working with thinkTribe, the leader in dynamic website performance monitoring, Dixons has been able to build a clear view of how its customers interact with its websites and are gaining huge strides in ensuring every visitor journey are successful.
“I’d worked with thinkTribe in the past when I looked after Tesco’s online performance and found their services to be highly effective. So when the renewal came up, I invited thinkTribe to show us what they could do. Our Service Delivery team rather liked it.”
The Group, with its multichannel approach to electrical retailing through brands such as PC World, Currys and Dixons.co.uk, is a business totally focused on understanding and managing the customers’ experience. Chris Howell, IT director for Customer Systems at Dixons Retail Group, is responsible for the development of Dixons’ customer experience across all channels from stores to social media. His initial approach in managing the performance of the Group online properties was based around a traditional systems monitoring role focussing on the typical Business As Usual questions such as ‘is it working?’ and ‘is it fast enough? However, as customers become ever more
demanding, the world becomes more connected and online properties ever more complex, “usual” is no longer enough.
“One of the most valuable elements for our teams in Finance and in Service Delivery is the ability to see lost sales. This means we can see the commercial cost of any outage. thinkTribe is our measure that the shop is open 24 hours a day,” Chris continues.
Understanding this, Chris was able to quickly demonstrate the value of having such performance information at his fingertips to all areas of the business. Strategic discussions about everything from improving the bottom line by preventing lost sales, building brand in the socially connected user communities, to budgeting, development and investment questions can be based on knowledge and insight, rather than gut feel.
“Within a week of using thinkTribe, we had identified that a new ‘share it’ button on the pages that was a part of new marketing activity was adding an extra 30 seconds to load the page. Once discovered marketing and development worked together to find a better way to implement and get the results the business needed, and we regained those 30 seconds for the user.”
Dixons Group moved quickly to the concept of ‘customer experience monitoring’. Chris now asks ‘what do customers want to experience?’ and ‘have we met the requirements that customers care about in each journey?’ To achieve this level of customer understanding, Dixons Group uses thinkTribe dynamic user journey approach to help monitor customers’ experience. thinkTribe dynamic user journeys are now being used across the websites of Dixons and PC World. The websites are tested every couple of minutes with a series of different journeys that mirror how a customer would interact with the sites. The journeys vary slightly to reflect the content of the different websites and cover general browsing and search as well as the navigation through the site to the checkout. If a problem occurs, an alert is issued. A visual report of the journeys is displayed in the IT department and the 24-hour operations room. Members of the ecommerce and the e-merchant teams also get copied on any alerts.
“I have to admit that our IT team sometimes hate the alerts because they can’t always explain why they’ve occurred. But we have full confidence in the thinkTribe system. When it’s red something is wrong, we just need to track it down and correct it,” Chris says.
“The thinkTribe user journey reports have quickly became part of the KPIs at Dixons Retail, and the services that thinkTribe delivers have evolved with us. thinkTribe is very responsive, helpful and excellent value for money. They’ve evolved with us, supporting us with lost sales calculations and business hour reporting functionality,” adds Chris.
“We are now moving towards being able to see what the customer sees from a monitoring perspective. However, we still need to keep building on the approach of being a customer facing organisation – we have sometimes overlooked the lessons we should have learned from that did not fit in our view of how IT should support customers.
It has been quite a journey so far and will continue to be for a number of years, and it is by no means an easy one. That is our journey.”