As the adage goes, “Trust takes years to build, but only moments to destroy.” Similarly, the digital experience that companies work so hard to create in order to acquire, delight, and retain their customers is also terribly fragile. And as every company becomes a software company, providing a great digital customer experience is increasingly important to you and everyone else at just about any company.

Whether they realize it or not, that’s true for salespeople as well. I learned this the hard way in a previous role as a salesperson at a SaaS company when an outage ravaged our customer experience.

From a trickle to a conflagration

For me, it started with a trickle of Slack messages and quickly caught fire like a match touching down on gasoline. Our support team was alerted by an increasing number of frantic tickets from customers complaining that our service was unavailable. From there, the support team escalated things to our engineering team, and a ‘p0’ (page-worthy) incident was announced. (I quickly learned to fear that term.)

While our engineering team scrambled to put the digital fire out by detecting and resolving the problem hidden in our technology stack, the flames quickly spread to social media. Twitter got extremely loud, and one of the company’s initial investors (with a huge following) was negatively commenting on the situation. The sales team convened an emergency meeting with customer success and support on how to respond to customers, while marketing formulated an official response.

It took almost a full day to pinpoint and fix the issue—and the aftermath lasted for weeks! There were endless post-mortems, executives individually reached out to our largest customers, and sales had to develop a talk-track to cope with prospects’ lingering concerns. In the end, deals were postponed, and some customers got refunds. And all the while, competitors used the incident to sling mud at our products.

You don’t have to be an engineer to be affected

If I learned anything from this unfortunate situation, it was that you don’t have to be an engineer to understand and appreciate the crucial importance of delivering a great digital customer experience. Everyone at the company can be affected by outages, glitches, and poor performance in your websites and applications.

In today’s world, poor online experiences quickly become synonymous with a poor brand experience. Along with the reputations of the developers, operations, and IT professionals who create and run the software, real revenue hangs in the balance. If your digital customer experience suffers, so will your bottom line.

Delivering a positive digital customer experience can help

  • Prevent revenue loss from slow-performing, glitch-filled sites that could turn away customers, boost churn, or inspire bad reviews that make it harder to acquire new customers.
  • Speed detection of the root causes of problems in your stack. That makes it easier to fix problems and allows technical teams to focus on innovation, not putting out fires.
  • Increase collaboration across the organization with better visibility into your digital experience, your technology stack, and how it all connects.
  • Minimize the likelihood of a p0, zero-day event, crash, outage, or any other ominous name for everything screeching to a halt.

What can salespeople do to help?

So the question becomes, “If I’m not technical, how can I help make sure that my organization’s digital services and footprint will hold up on a normal Tuesday, not to mention on our biggest days?”

One way is to become an advocate for monitoring the digital customer experience throughout your company. If your engineering and IT teams have access to tools that can pinpoint problems proactively and in real time through your full technology stack, then those problems are less likely to hit the lifeblood of your company’s success: its customers. For bonus points, you could even track some of these performance metrics for everyone to see on monitors around the office!

Today, it takes a company-wide effort to avoid delivering a sub-optimal digital customer experience. Do it right and your happy customers will reward your efforts by becoming brand advocates and helping your bottom line grow.

For more resources, visit the New Relic Digital Customer Experience hub.


Seth Klebe is a Corporate Account Executive, Enterprise, for New Relic. Based in San Francisco, he has a hands-on background in international business. Connect with Seth on LinkedIn. View posts by .

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