Web Sites Now Serve as Key Performance Indicators

As the Internet has become a more important channel for interacting with customers and satisfying their requirements, Web-site availability and performance for online business processes have become key performance indicators (KPIs). Most CEOs are really beginning to understand the importance and impact of online systems to their business performance and corporate reputation. Furthermore, many are beginning to take a personal interest in these KPIs. The drivers behind this growing importance are: 1. Consumers now have a higher expectation of online levels of service. 2. Displacement of back-office systems (B2C). 3. Globalization of the supply chain (B2B). Over the last few years the Internet has matured and transformed. Once considered a place where pioneers like Amazon, eBay, and Cisco blazed new frontiers, it has become a virtual Main Street, offering convenient access to everything from banking and travel to entertainment and fashion. As more mainstream consumers have come online they have brought higher expectations of the level of support and service delivered by the Web sites of the companies they choose to do business with. An increasingly important component of customer satisfaction depends on the quality of experience a user has when they visit your Web site, as well as when they step inside your store. Another factor that goes hand in hand with increasing customer expectations is the massive shift of businesses that have spent the last several years turning formerly back-office processes into self-service Web applications. There was a time not too long ago when interacting with any company involved calling, potentially waiting on hold, and talking with an employee who would then interact with the company's back-office systems to look up your bank balance, change your phone number, or help determine order status. This is no longer the case as banks, travel, and telephone companies, and most every other vendor we interact with have Web-enabled their businesses to allow customers and prospects to perform nearly every possible interaction online. Online systems that support the global supply chain have an indirect effect on customer satisfaction. I recently read a comment from the CIO of a large global concern that suggested that there would be no global supply chain without the Internet. Supply chain management does impact customer satisfaction as it relates to product delivery dates and product quality. Without nearly seamless connectivity between product marketing folks in the United States and product design and manufacturing around the world, just-in-time inventory control, proper product mix, and product quality would be impossible to manage across vast global supply chains. Together these factors point to an increasing reliance on the availability and performance of Web sites and other critical online processes as contributors to customer satisfaction, customer quality of experience, and CRM in general. One of the best ways to be certain that online systems are always available and providing a good experience to end-users is Web-site and Web-transaction monitoring services. End-to-end monitoring is one of the best ways to collect the metrics necessary to measure, assure, and improve Internet-based services. These measurements can often be easily rolled up into the KPIs that represent online success. About the Author Ken Godskind is the vice president of marketing for www.AlertSite.com, a leading provider of Web-site monitoring services. AlertSite helps clients ensure that their critical Web sites, servers, and online applications are always available and delivering a good experience to end-users. Ken can be contacted at kgodskind@alertsite.com. http://www.alertsite.com
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