Enhancing CX with Digital Experience Observability

By: Steve Campbell

Customer experience may be a familiar term—but depending on the context and who is using it, the exact definition may differ. Communication service providers (CSPs) have focused on customer experience, with complete teams and processes assigned to properly evaluate and maintain specific levels of service. This article focuses on areas in which additional value can be provided that will have an immediate impact on customer experience, primarily through self-service mechanisms. The concept is illustrated through new use cases that resulted in changes to the way people work and live, and the new cloud architectures afforded by multi-access edge compute.

It's not new, but it’s worth repeating: the pandemic has changed the way we interact human to human, as well as with content, online learning, and shopping. Whether or not this is the new normal, digital interactions are here to stay. Generally, CSPs were well-prepared for the dramatic shift of traffic from the traffic-engineered private enterprise infrastructure to the consumer networks, a shift that happened virtually overnight in early 2020. Companies have struggled to move to the cloud for years, but in a matter of days the private enterprise access network became the public Internet.

As a result of this sudden reliance on the public consumer network, many customers had to become their own IT staff. With the lack of visibility of the public Internet, enterprise IT is unable to assist with even the most basic issues, and because most of the issues are intermittent, employees no longer complain and simply wait for the issue to resolve itself.

Elevating the digital experience

Digital interactions require a new focus on performance. We know from sitting in endless online meetings that poor or inconsistent Internet performance can make for a very painful experience. What can CSPs do to help their customers who rely on their network most? The answer is to enhance self-service capabilities with the equivalent of Internet weather. Here, the term “Internet weather” describes an experiential or health score from individual markets to major services that represent how good the experience is based on the performance of the service. While services like Netflix and YouTube are obvious ones to highlight, as everyone is working from home, why not add Salesforce or Office365, all displayed within a self-service portal or mobile application?

It may be stating the obvious, but the interaction between the consumer (customer or employee) and producer (shopping site or business application) is far more complex than it appears. We all know this, but a single web page such as Pinterest opens hundreds if not thousands of connections, and these connections are not all served from the same system. One web page, thousands of connections with content served from different locations, and different components from various vendors all play a role in making all this work—we call this the Digital Delivery Chain.

Identifying the digital experience for these services from each market sounds like a cakewalk, doesn’t it? Are these complexities necessary? If our devices weren’t so smart, the screens so good, and the content so engaging, the answer would be a resounding no, but this is not the case. To compensate for latency, loosely defined as the length of time it takes to deliver content from the origin to the destination, content is distributed in proximity to those markets where the content is consumed. The result is that some of the content is filled from a distributed source via a Content Delivery Network (CDN), with the remainder served from the origin. While the digital delivery chain is far more complex, the CDN allows for higher resolution and more engaging content to be delivered without the penalty associated with distance, and since the majority of the content (measured in bytes) is cached locally, there is a significant benefit to the available capacity of backbone networks. Digital experience observability solutions account for all this complexity and provide a simple answer to a complex question: is the service available, reliable, and performing to expectations from the local market? With the increase in reliance on digital interactions, customers care more and more about their digital experience.

Enabling digital experience observability

As noted previously, the pandemic created a work-from-home dilemma. Enterprises went from tens or hundreds of office locations to thousands, overnight. The millions of dollars spent on performance monitoring solutions quickly became useless as employees were no longer using the enterprise private network, but rather the Internet. Without the ability to peer into the Internet, enterprise IT staff is left blind and unable to determine the cause of issues with the web conferencing solution or the SaaS application. The employee is left to figure out issues on their own.


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