To Really Improve Digital Customer Experiences, Think Like a Football Coach

David Spokane  |  July 27, 2017

David Spokane  |  July 27, 2017


People’s shopping habits have dramatically shifted in recent years. Customers now increasingly make purchases and consume content online through a host of digital devices. As a result, online customer experience is becoming the key competitive differentiator that ultimately determines success or failure in the marketplace. It’s simply no longer sufficient to offer the lowest pricing, free shipping, or even trendy apps to keep viewers and customers engaged. According to Rightnow, 89% of customers will stop doing business with a brand after a bad experience: the stakes could not be higher.

So, what can you do to get more visibility into and improve customer experiences online? Here’s what I propose: think like a football coach…

It’s Monday morning, your team has just been destroyed 31-3 by the malevolent New England Patriots…

Wow. You’re still reeling. What do you do as a coach to understand why your team got beaten so badly? How do you improve your players, find the mistakes that were made, and take corrective action?  

Well, the first place you would start is the stats - there’s a wealth of statistics to provide you with a good outline of what went wrong.

Reviewing them, you note several key problem areas: the visiting team’s time of possession was double yours, the quarterback only completed 20% of his passes, the team only averaged 2 yards per carry, and only posted a total of 50 yards gained during the entire game.

Clearly, there’s an issue on the offensive side of the ball. But is this data sufficient to really diagnose the problems that led to the loss? Let alone to fix them?  

Finding the 'why'

If a coach were to rely only on statistics to make major changes without any further analysis, they would not last very long in the league. So, what else do coaches do on Monday mornings to assess the performance of their teams?

They watch game tapes - and lots of them. Each coach focuses on specific aspects of the game tape whether it’s the quarterback coach, or offensive line coach, or receivers coach etc. The point is they need to be reviewing qualitative data that the statistics don’t provide to understand the ‘why’ behind the stats!

Sure enough, you discover that while the quarterback only completed 20% of his passes, the reason was because he was looking at the sky during most of the game, and that pass protection had completely broken down. Further study of the tape reveals that the culprit was the Left Tackle who consistently got beat: his foot technique was flawed.

Now that you know what the specific problem was and why it occurred, you as a coach can fix it.

The knowledge gap

Just as football coaches require access to both quantitative and qualitative information to implement effective improvements, the same applies to optimizing customer experiences on our websites.

Unfortunately, there is a glaring knowledge gap in the traditional process of web optimization between what users did and our understanding of what to do next. Traditional analytics – much like the stats collected by football statistics – will tell us what visitors did, where they did it, when, etc. but don’t provide visibility into the reasons ‘why’ they behaved the way they did.

The real problem here is, if you can’t see what your users did and why they did it, then it makes it very difficult to know exactly what needs to be fixed to improve user experiences.

Because of this lack of visibility, marketers will make changes to their sites or run A/B tests based on what they think will solve the problem, rather than factual data, which all too often leads to less effective A/B testing, underwhelming conversion rate increases, and missed revenue opportunities.

What’s really needed is a strong capability to visualize and make sense of user behavior, digital body language and sentiment – the kind of data that traditional analytics doesn’t provide.

Discovering digital body language

Technology exists in the marketplace that reveals exactly how visitors interact with your websites and what their experiences were. It captures both what users experience (i.e. the content, load times, pop ups, page errors they encounter), and how they interact with the site (i.e. how they move their mouse, where they click, pinch, zoom or tap, how they scroll, and much more).

In Decibel Insight's case, we apply intelligence to this data in the form of machine-learning algorithms, automatically surfacing trends in user behavior, motivation, and opportunities for improvement.

This sort of insight combines qualitative and quantitative data in an extremely compelling way, making it incredibly easy for marketers to hone in on problem areas, discover why they are occurring, and fix them to improve customer experiences. It arms marketers with the equivalent of the football coach's game tapes. 

Remember: to really get to the bottom of how to improve your customer experiences, go beyond the statistics, focus on user behavior, and think like a football coach.


See what our data scientists discovered about behavior and digital body language from analysis of 2.2 billion user sessions: get the report now

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David Spokane

Written on July 27, 2017 by:

David Spokane

David is Senior Enterprise Sales Executive at Decibel Insight.


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