Web Analytics Won’t Tell You Enough About Your Customers

Every few days I get a general report from our web site analytics showing basic information about who is on our site and how the information is being used. I generally look at this to see if we are actually helping people. If there are pages on are site that are not providing value, then why are they out there? We constantly try to improve any pages that are rarely viewed, and sometimes we remove the page altogether. We recently started the Northway Navigators Club so that technical users can access our growing knowledge base.

It is important to me that we are properly wording what we do and how we can help companies. Our messaging should be very clear. Sometimes I see a pattern of activity on our site that looks like someone needing our services. However, unless someone fills out a “Contact Us” form, emails, or calls us, there is nothing I can do about it. Recently I found out what the web analytics couldn’t tell me. A customer did reach out. It wasn’t what I expected.

Learning On Someone Else’s Dime

I knew that a certain company (a potential customer) had been to our site many times in recent months. There was a period of activity every day for a few weeks. It was basically someone reading technical information on our blogs for very specific information (i.e., LoadRunner and Citrix). Then the activity suddenly stopped. I tried to contact someone within the company to see if we could help. Unfortunately, my outreach was received as just another “cold call” out of the many calls they get every day from vendors.  I wasn’t talking to the right person, and I was told that there was no one doing any kind of application performance testing, much less with LoadRunner.

A few weeks later the activity on our site started up again. Someone was furiously looking for help around load testing best practices with LoadRunner and Citrix/XENAPP. We do have a lot of information on it, including two popular whitepapers on the topic (which can be found here). This web traffic pattern went on for multiple days. Again, I tried to contact someone at the company who might know what was going on, to no avail. The activity stopped again, just as quickly as it had started. After about two more weeks, I figured we would probably not hear from anyone.

They Finally Found Us

Out of the blue one morning there was someone from that company looking our site – but with a different type of search pattern. Instead of looking at technical information on our blogs, it was someone wanting to find out about our services and how to contact us. The “Contact Us” form was completed. They left their name and phone number and asked for a call back. I received the information and called them back as soon as I could. On the other end of the line was a frustrated QA Manager from that company. As I listened to the conversation, I realized that this was the person who had been on our site weeks and months before. This QA Manager had JUST FOUND out about Northway Solutions Group from a web search, looking for consulting expertise with LoadRunner and Citrix. All the earlier traffic was from other people. But who?

As it turns out, this company had hired a local consultant in the area who had the right skills listed on their resume and said the right things in an interview. They were hired to perform load testing with LoadRunner on a Citrix-based application. However, when it came time to automate the business processes, they were unable to get through some of the technical challenges. Citrix scripting can be tricky for sure. This first wave of web activity was actually this consultant seeking answers to avoid being fired from the project. When the QA manager discovered the consultant learning on the company’s time, they were let go.

At this point, they reached out to an HP software partner hoping that they would get consulting resources with the experience needed to complete the project. The HP software partner did send someone with load testing experience, but were not skilled with Citrix deployed applications. The second round of activity was another consultant desperately trying to get through the engagement. The company found out this consultant could not complete the work, and they were also let go. Finally, the QA Manager took matters into their own hands to find out which HP Partner could handle a difficult Citrix deployed application with LoadRunner. The first question asked of me was, “What makes Northway Solutions Group different than the others?” They wanted to make sure we would not give them a repeat of their previous experiences.

Are We Awesome Or Does Everyone Else Just Suck?

Let me be clear that I am not trying to put other consultants or other HP consulting partners in a bad light. But I had to give an honest answer to that question. I had to apologize for their previous experience and explain that using our consultants would absolutely yield the end result they were looking for. But I had to pause for a second and think, “Do I think Northway Solutions Group is REALLY that good, or is it that I think that everyone else just sucks so bad?”

I struggled with that for a moment. I’m just being honest. While I do believe there are other companies with great consultants who do exactly what we do and are just as good technically, I think it is the simple things that make our company stand out overall. We strive for excellence across the entire company on these basic things:

  • Communication: When you ask for a call back, we will call you back – usually within a few minutes but definitely within a day. We will respond to your email in a timely manner. If we don’t know the answer, we will find out and get back to you in a reasonable time frame.
  • Support: When our customers face issues with the HP products they have purchased from us, they can call us first (before they call support). If we can help them, we do. If we can’t, we help them get the best support possible from HP official support. We do this without officially being an HP Certified Support Partner. We just believe it is the right thing to do.
  • Experience: We will always try to guide and mentor people to do the right thing based on our experience and best practices. It is our goal to leave a legacy.
    Technical Abilities: EVERYONE in the company must understand the technical side of testing software to some degree, including upper management. We have been there and done that, and sometimes we still take on projects to keep our skills up. We love this business! Check our technical blog content and compare to others in the industry. It should be easy to determine who is offering the best technical content to the HP testing community.
  • Responsibility: We believe that customers have the right to make the wrong choices and ultimately go out of business, but we will always sound the alarm even if they don’t want to hear it. That is our responsibility. We have refused many projects in the past because we knew the wrong decisions would be made. We believe that if we are doomed to fail from the beginning, it isn’t worth the money to accept the engagement.
  • Ethics: We don’t overplay our skill sets. If we cannot do something, we won’t accept the project. We will never misrepresent one of our consultants for the sake of making money. Our customers must feel that they are getting value from every dollar they spend with us.

Differentiate

I think other companies in our industry should be asking themselves what makes them different. What makes them stand out? Are they focusing on their customers or their quotas? Is closing the sale today the most important thing or is making sure the customer is happy about closing the sale tomorrow the real goal?  I think most people can figure out which companies are more about sales than service because it is easy to see by their actions, not just by what they say.

Are you happy with your current HP Software reseller or technical consultants? Do you have consultants learning while you pay them to gain skill-sets? Do you want to partner with a company for a solution instead of having a transactional relationship? Find out the difference it makes when you are working with people who have as much passion for excellence as you do. Give me a call or use the “Contact Us” page to reach out and let’s talk.

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Scott Moore

About Scott Moore (153 articles)

With over 20 years of IT experience with various platforms and technologies, Scott has tested some of the largest applications and infrastructures in the world. He is a Certified Instructor and Certified Product Consultant in HP’s LoadRunner and Performance Center products. He currently holds HP certifications for ASE, ASC, and CI. A thought leader in the APM space, he speaks regularly at IT conferences and events