Tuesday, November 07, 2006

TeaLeaf Captures Customer Experience, but Doesn't Tame It

Could any white paper title grab my attention more quickly than “The Five Essentials of Customer Experience Management”? Probably not. Even knowing the paper is from TeaLeaf Technology (www.tealeaf.com), which captures a browser-eye-view of Web sessions, and is therefore limited to online experiences, doesn’t really dim my curiousity. After all, Web experiences are important in themselves and learning how to manage them might provide insights that carry over to other media.

Alas, the paper takes a narrow view of online experience management, focused entirely on the problem that TeaLeaf solves. The five “essentials” in the paper’s title are just elaborations of the TeaLeaf theme:

- “visibility”: capture and record individual experiences
- “detection”: identify problems by inspecting online experiences
- “analysis”: diagnose issues by reproducing the experience
- “reproduce”: reduce support costs by reproducing the experience
- “positive experience”: detect obstacles by reviewing online experiences

I may be overstating the similarity of these five items but not by much.

The gap between capturing Web sessions and fully managing the Web experience should be self-evident. The obvious question for TeaLeaf is, how will managers make sense of so much detailed data? Some higher organization is essential to identify patterns and common issues. TeaLeaf does address this with a facility to define expected event flows within a Web session and identify deviations from those flows as potential problems. I believe it can also flag sessions that generate particular types of messages, including error messages. Managers would then examine these sessions to find the conditions that led to the problem. The white paper touches on these functinos but does not describe them in detail.

Of course, truly managing the customer experience requires measuring the impact of each interaction on future customer behavior. TeaLeaf isn’t built to do this, so it makes no sense to complain that it doesn’t. TeaLeaf is a tactical tool that helps to address a limited set of problems. In that sense, it can indeed help to improve the customer experience, so long as it’s placed within a larger strategic framework.


Dave said...

How is Tealeaf different from web analytics packages like WebTrends?

David Raab said...

Tealeaf is designed to capture and "replay" the paths of individual customers through a Web site. Web analytics systems capture and analyze statistical information about page views, loads, etc., which may or may not be associated with individuals. I'm hugely oversimplifying here but I think that's the essence.