Meeting consumers’ expectations of digital services

Gregg Ostrowski

Executive CTO, AppDynamics

The widespread switch to digital services is both a challenge and chance for brands to woo consumers’ favour. Existing brands face the challenge of moving away from brick and mortar experiences which have previously wowed consumers and forged a following of patrons. These patrons would expect a similar digital experience with its own distinct advantages. New brands are handed the chance of creating innovative digital experiences for an impressionable launch. With the Internet, they can reach out to potential consumers from every end of the globe. These consumers furthermore need not visit a physical space to interact with the brand, they can do so from digital devices. At this juncture, the move to digital services appears to be a boon and a bane to brands. How should both young and established brands respond to these trends to stay ahead of the game? The answer lies in full stack observability. Full stack application software offers detailed performance reports of IT architecture and the end-user application, allowing a view of what’s going well and what’s going wrong. 

CIO World Asia spoke with Gregg Ostrowski, executive CTO at AppDynamics on the opportunities and challenges brands have in winning customers’ loyalty and trust with digital services. Appdynamics specialises in providing real time insights in full-stack application performance. 

Staying Ahead Of Digital Services Demands

We’ve seen a massive digital transformation journey over the last two years. Initially triggered by the pandemic, organisations rapidly evolved their operations to meet the needs of customers and employees. In the AppDynamics Agents of Transformation 2021 report, technologists said that they had implemented digital transformation projects three times faster than any previous year. This has placed significant pressure on IT teams, whether they’re responsible for keeping IT environments secure or delivering the transformation projects. 

The challenge for CTOs and CIOs is to align closely to the business, ensuring their technology decisions are positively driving the desired business outcomes. The first step in this approach is to move from the reactive mode that has plagued most IT departments during the pandemic, and move to a model where rapid innovation is embedded in the processes and technologies of everyday business. New skills and new solutions will be essential. One such solution that is already proving critical is full-stack observability with business context – the ability to monitor the full IT estate, from customer-facing applications through to third party services and core infrastructure all while keeping close watch on the business impact. Full-stack observability will help IT teams to tackle the heightened levels of complexity that have engulfed IT departments over the last 18 months and adopt a more proactive and strategic approach to technology innovation and performance.

The first step in this approach is to move from the reactive mode that has plagued most IT departments during the pandemic, and move to a model where rapid innovation is embedded in the processes and technologies of everyday business.

Gregg Ostrowski, executive CTO at Appdynamics

ASEAN Consumers’ Expectations Of Digital Services

Digital services have undoubtedly been a lifeline to normality throughout the pandemic. May it be for work, study or access to public services, they have allowed consumers to go about their lives. The  AppDynamics App Attention Index 2021 reporAt showed that 96% of Singaporeans, 95% of Indians, and 91% of Japanese stated that digital services and applications are now a critical part of their lives. The reliance on digital services has never been greater. In fact, the number of applications that people are using on a daily basis has jumped by 30% compared with two years ago.   

While there are some subtle local differences between the markets – with some considering convenience as one of the top priority when using an app, and others expressing concerns over security – ultimately every consumer is now seeking the ‘total application experience’. A high-performing, reliable, digital service that is simple, secure, helpful, and fun to use. So, brands must always have in mind that ultimate goal when it comes to application and digital services. Especially in ASEAN (including Singapore), which has some of the most engaged mobile internet users in the world and a digital economy expected to exceed gross market value of $240 billion by 2025. 

Ways For Brands To Retain Consumers’ Favour

The pandemic has driven demand for applications and digital services, but the AppDynamics App Attention Index reveals that this is a long-term trend. In Singapore, 83% of people will continue to rely on digital services even beyond the pandemic. Furthermore, along with increased dependence on digital services, comes changing expectations and standards. No longer as tolerant as before, consumers will not accept anything but the very best experiences. Organisations that have managed to impress consumers with the quality of their digital offerings during this period are reaping the rewards of their efforts. In India and Singapore, almost 80% of people report feeling more loyal towards companies who went above and beyond with the quality of their digital service during the pandemic.

However, while consumers are generous with appreciation for the brands who have done well, those who fall short are eliminated without much further consideration. More unforgiving than ever, customers are unlikely to give brands a second chance if an experience is sub-optimal. In fact, close to 70% of those in India will only give brands ‘one shot to impress’ and if their digital service is not up to standard, they will immediately switch to an alternative provider. 

In order to deliver the ‘total application experience’ consumers are expecting, and to ensure that their digital channels always perform as they should, technologists must have real-time visibility into IT performance up and down the IT stack, from customer-facing applications right through to core infrastructure. Only with full-stack observability can technologists identify and fix performance issues before they impact customers. And on top of that, they need to connect this IT performance data with real-time business metrics, so that they can cut through the data deluge and pinpoint the issues that really could do serious damage to customer experience, and, ultimately, to the business itself.

Understanding and Incorporating Customer Feedback

While customer feedback is certainly valuable, the reality is that you will never get a full picture of customer experience from feedback alone. Complete visibility across the entire customer journey is the only way to truly understand digital customer experience. With an observability solution that monitors the complete IT environment, technologists can get visibility of IT performance and availability across the stack. And when IT performance metrics correlate business metrics, IT leaders can influence business decision making across the organisations. And this includes areas such as talent recruitment and marketing – as well as sales, product development, engineering and more!  

Full stack observability could also be understood as full visibility to absolve or lessen blame on brands when the customer’s experience goes awry. It is inevitable that customers will point fingers at brands when the application isn’t functioning up to expectations. And customers’ expectations are high in this day and age with endless new brands vying to take the place of underperforming predecessors. Full stack observability becomes a form of self defence in current cases of customer dissatisfaction and pre-empting potential cases.