Build a brand worth fighting for: 3 ways web performance drives exceptional customer experiences
The forum on my neighborhood Nextdoor app has recently been bursting with passionate commentary about the influx of Bird scooters in Atlanta.
There is the expected hemming and hawing about Birds as a nuisance, clogging sidewalks and interrupting traffic flows. But, there is also an outpouring of Bird users extolling their value and—most importantly it seems—the fun of riding them. One lengthy post from our forum moderator states that Birds are popular because they are widely available, easy to use, fast, and make the rider feel like a kid again. Simply put, in his eyes, they deliver an exceptional experience for the rider. Good customer experiences build brands worth fighting for.
Good customer experiences build brands worth fighting for.
For electric scooters, retailers, SaaS apps, and everything in between, availability, ease of use, and speed are all critical drivers of customer satisfaction.
Undergirding web performance in complementary yet distinct ways, these tenants create a mutually reinforcing relationship between CX and customer satisfaction online. In other words, it is impossible to focus on one and not the other—let's see how.
1. Availability—"Yes, we’re open!"
Have you ever navigated to a website looking for a specific product, adding it to your cart, plugging in your payment info only to get an error message? Not fun. Generally speaking, you want your customers to be able to find and access the products they are looking for. Product availability is a driver of good CX. Sure, product scarcity can drive demand, especially around a hot release, but that isn’t a great customer experience. Availability matters to customers—it's sign out front that reads, "Yes, we're open!"
From a web performance perspective, availability is measured as uptime. The most basic of performance metrics, uptime answers the question “is this website up or down?” Frequent outages or periods of downtime frustrate users and harm brand perception. This is why companies use status pages to help create transparency around outages and work to rebuild trust.
While uptime may be the most pressing availability issue, it’s not the only one. What about those annoying 404 error pages (no matter how cute or clever they may be)? Or dead links? Are your customers able to do the same things on mobile as on desktop? While not as worthy of panic bells, these errors and bugs impact availability, too.
2. Easy to use—no roadblocks ahead
No one likes to see their customers struggle on their website, even if it does create empathy. Websites and apps that are intuitive and easy-to-use are more likely to be adopted. While some companies leverage inebriated users to find ease of use issues, we like to use FullStory for understanding usability!
Ease of use matters for website performance, too. For instance, your complex website might render beautifully on a desktop monitor, but if it isn’t responsively designed, it could be clunky and cumbersome for customers on mobile.
It’s worthwhile both from a CX and a web performance standpoint to understand how many steps your users have to take to perform mission critical user flows. Are you making checkout processes too laborious? Can you simplify search?
3. Page speed—fast and furious
Of these three tenants, speed is the only most often associated with website performance. And for good reason. Website performance is primarily concerned with how long it takes for a user to see, access, or interact with your content. Good or bad performance is measured with metrics, such as time to first meaningful paint, time to first interactive, page load time, and many, many more.
But, just because speed is the purview of web performance doesn't mean it isn’t also applicable to CX. It’s equally important to ensure that customers feel like their time is respected, which means setting expectations properly. This is done virtually by incorporating loading animation and in real life by enabling customers to track their purchase--be it pizza or pens--in real time.
According to Google, 53% of mobile website visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. How do your mission-critical pages stack up against this benchmark? Can you identify easy performance wins, such as unoptimized images or slow third party scripts you don’t rely on anymore?
A great digital experience requires great web performance
Most users who have a bad experience with your website won’t tell you that they were frustrated—they’ll just leave. You’ve already spent money and resources to drive these potential customers to your website, and failing to capitalize on that investment because of poor performance is, simply put, bad for business.
Customer experience and web performance are two birds that flock together, which is why if your site isn't available, easy to use, and fast, these birds won't fly. And like Bird scooters, perhaps making your website breezy, effortless, and ready when your customers need it most will leave your customers feeling like kids again.