Social media and the explosion of apps in today’s connected society has changed the way end-users consume information, interact and transact. End-users have become king as their experience with apps is a key factor in determining business and operational sustainability. In view of this, businesses have been actively seeking methods to ensure data is available anywhere and anytime.
Whilst application complexity increases, so does user expectations. User expectations are higher than ever, and they are demanding fast loading, bug-free experiences, no matter what device they are on.
This is even more crucial for the banking industry as it involves a large volume of financial transactions on both web and mobile platforms between the bank, retailers, and end-users.
According to The Global Benchmarks Data, the banks in Malaysia (local and international) are taking 4.18 seconds to process a user request while accessed via Internet Explorer, and 4.59 seconds on Mozilla Firefox. Based on the Performance Summary, Asian Finance Bank, Bangkok Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Ambank, and Public Bank top the list based on their overall ranking in Benchmark tests, of which covered a) home page monitoring and measurement, as well as b) transactional monitoring and measurement
Recognising the enormous opportunities in the Islamic Finance market, most of the local or international banks on the list have already established a strong Islamic Finance arm or provide Islamic Banking services to customers.
However, if we draw a comparison between dedicated Islamic Banks and Conventional Banks that are equipped with Islamic Banking service, there is only one Islamic Bank, Bank Mualamat, that sits in the top 10, while Conventional Banks made up the rest of the list with consistently good scores achieved in all tests.
If a site takes too long to load, users may end up losing confidence and shift their preference to a competitor, which has a more reliable technology platform to perform smooth transactions. In order to hedge against such risks, all banks have to start looking at optimizing their web and mobile apps. Additionally, any online campaigns such as collaborative contests and giveaways should be tested prior to going live. This will help enhance user experience and ensure that marketing campaigns achieve the stipulated targets.
Below are three necessary steps that will help Islamic Banks prepare for apps optimization to ensure a pleasant user experience:
Step 1: Gathering the team and defining the ideal user experience
In order to effectively determine the goals and achievements for each test, it is important to first define the ideal user experience. This means gathering the right stakeholders to provide input on what that experience entails. Team members can also provide opinions and perspectives from different angles for testing and as such, the team can include developers, testers, analysts, managers, product management, sales and marketing, IT support, operations and the project executive sponsor.
Having these stakeholders on-board means businesses can more effectively determine the right concerns to address, the right targets to achieve and how these targets should be measured. While IT can still continue to conduct tests and generate measurements, percentages and numbers, not knowing the concerns behind such tests would give no purpose to the data generated by the tests and stakeholders would not be able to effectively interpret the numbers.
Step 2: Goal setting, measurement and metrics
With the right stakeholders and concerns identified, the team can then move on to goal setting. Here, goals can be categorised into technical and business goals however the two are co-dependent. For example, prioritising information traffic speed falls under a technical goal but may impact business goals, as additional investments in infrastructure are required to achieve desired speeds.
This is why further research as part of goal setting is required to maintain an optimal balance between providing the best user experience and over-investing, and where measurement and metrics comes into play. At this stage, the team identifies acceptable numbers that define an optimal user experience. For example, users will tolerate transactions that take up to four seconds to process and anything beyond five seconds is deemed unacceptable. If test results reveal an average response time of three to five seconds, the goal is deemed achieved.
Step 3: Getting appropriate tools and constantly upgrade systems to cater to the increasing traffic
Web load testing prior to new systems upgrades, new marketing campaigns and approaching peak seasons can help companies prepare for any potential backlash as a result of failures caused by sudden traffic overloads. Having an application and web performance monitoring tool will track the performance, scalability and robustness of business portals, which is key to making sure all areas are functioning optimally. A thorough 360-degree analysis of web traffic will help stakeholders improve problem-solving speeds by identifying bottlenecks, root causes, defects and technical limits.
Hedging against reputation damage with APM
It is important to note that 78% of mobile users will only retry an app once or twice if it fails to work the first time and out of this, only 16% said that they would give the app more than two attempts. What’s worse? Frustrated users are one tweet, or one Facebook post away from damaging your brand. Bad news travels fast in today’s social media driven communication and the long-term effects of multiple occurrences can be detrimental for businesses.
Long exposure to performance issues would not only lead to lost revenues and brand damage, but also increase costs and time spent on solving customer complaints. Big data, cloud storage, new apps and an increasing volume of devices owned are all part of a mix that puts immense pressure on organisations to ensure end users do not suffer bad experiences. With proper measures in place, Islamic Banks will be prepared with the edge and sustainability that is required in today’s hyper competitive market with little to no service interruptions throughout the year.