How to Beat Micro Glitching and Prevent Losing Customers

Hal Conick
Marketing News
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Key Takeaways

​What? Micro glitches can cause immense frustration for customers on a brand’s website without companies knowing until it’s too late.

So what? Micro glitches put $300 billion of future e-commerce sales at risk.

Now what? Companies can prevent micro glitches by closely monitoring customer activity and investigating sharp drops or spikes in traffic. ​​

​Jan. 24, 2018

Micro glitches go undetected until it’s too late, leaving potential customers frustrated and sales abandoned. How can companies fix micro glitches?

 

When web pages go down or loading time increases, customers get frustrated. After all, they’re trying to give the company money—why should they be hampered in the process? 

Micro glitches are a common problem for e-commerce companies, especially during the holidays. These glitches can go unseen until they’ve already sapped the business of thousands of dollars. Customers—perhaps frustrated by an inability to check out or a page error that leaves them unable to read about an item they’re interested in purchasing—often take their business elsewhere when a micro glitch hits. 

Ira Cohen, co-founder and chief data scientist at Anodot, says companies are affected by these micro glitches across the year. “Even the giant Amazon is not immune to glitches,” Cohen says, but adds that during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, each glitch can cost closer to $250,000 per incident.

During the holidays, Cohen says some companies will use Black Friday and Cyber Monday “situation rooms” to stamp out the negative effects of micro glitches.

“Situation rooms are designed to closely monitor operations and handle problems as soon as they arise,” Cohen says. “Often a situation room, for a specific date or in general, has dozens of dashboards and it is hard to know where to look. The purpose is to identify and remediate any problems that happen as quickly as possible.”

How can companies make their websites glitch-proof and facilitate customer purchases? Marketing News spoke with Cohen to find out.

Q: How many micro glitches occur each year on average? How much do they cost companies? 

A: Glitches happen all the time; that’s why they get treated like the weather, as something inevitable, but they can be prevented. Our customers have told us that every incident that negatively impacts sales during regular shopping days typically costs around $40,000 in lost revenues, but this is highly dependent on the type of e-commerce provider, what they are selling and to whom they’re selling it. Recently, the 2017 Customer Rage Study​ found that 62 million families experienced at least one shopping glitch in the past 12 months, leading to frustration and anger and putting more than $300 billion of future sales at risk.

Q: What are some common ways micro glitches occur?

A: Incorrect pricing, online service outages due to sudden spikes in website traffic and products being incorrectly priced or incorrectly coded for checkout are all common micro glitches.  

Q: Do these micro glitches tend to have a greater effect on larger or smaller companies?

A: Every online company of every size can be susceptible to micro glitches. However, the larger the company and the larger its customer base, the more granular KPIs need to be tracked. For example, a small company that sells one product in one location can easily track that using a dashboard, but a company with 10 products in 10 locations that needs to track seven different operating systems already has 700 (10 x 10 x 7) specific metrics that need to be tracked. And, of course, the numbers go up from there. Big Data is prone to more glitches and needs artificial intelligence rather than traditional, manual tools to keep track of it all.

Q: What can companies do to prevent micro glitches from affecting sales? Is there a way to make websites glitch-proof?

A: To beat micro glitches, online retailers need to learn to identify and rectify them in real time. This involves sifting through the massive amount of data that drives decision-making and finding revenue-siphoning micro glitches before they happen. 

First, it’s important to track exactly what customers are doing on your website or in your app, including pages, page elements or products that show sudden drops or spikes in traffic. Second, monitor third-party data, including competitor advertising data, weather data, social media data, fraud detection and security data, as well as any other data from third-party sources that may dramatically affect your business. Third, make sure to monitor a combination of in-store and online data. Finally, integrate DevOps and IT with your business data to find the root cause of the glitch.  

Q: What’s a first easy step companies can take to preventing micro glitches?

A: The first step is to prepare web site infrastructure well in advance, tweak code and review customer paths to purchase. It’s often too much to monitor using traditional dashboards and alerts, so some machine learning or AI will be necessary.  


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Author Bio:

 
Hal Conick
Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.
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