User Experience Analytics: Definitely Worth Measuring

By Cherie Martin, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager
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My friend Renée hits her local gym three times a week, more when her work schedule is flexible enough, as she’s training for a marathon and serious about sticking to a strict workout plan. When we’re able to grab dinner together, I’m always amazed that the main thing she complains about is how bad the Wi-Fi is at the gym. Sore legs for 24 hours do not compare to a poor online experience!

She knows that Wi-Fi is in my sweet spot and always asks why it’s so hard to improve the Wi-Fi at the gym. For Renée, or anyone at a store, attending a concert, or waiting for an appointment, poor Wi-Fi can sour the experience. The worst part of the story is that Renée doesn’t plan to let the gym know about her frustrations. Instead, she’s thinking of moving to another gym that another friend has recommended. I often hear similar stories from friends that stay at hotels where the Wi-Fi experience was poor.

From the gym’s perspective, the person responsible for the network may not even know that there’s trouble brewing. The network monitoring tools they use really only show that the Wi-Fi is up and running, and glitch-free. When complaints do come in, it can be difficult and time consuming to identify and respond to comments like “The Internet is down” or “The Wi-Fi is painfully slow.”

What’s needed are data points that mirror the user experience. In many scenarios where a problem is identified, the customer, member, patient, or employee may be having an issue that has nothing to do with the network. It could be any one of a number of issues, such as a third-party collaboration app is down, the captive portal may be slow to respond, or the mail server is offline.

An Outside-In Look at Network Activity
Analyzing the performance of the network and client hardware provides a limited view from inside the network to the end users and to the cloud. The network perspective, however, doesn’t represent what users are experiencing. To get that perspective, you need a performance assurance solution that replicates how end users interact with the network. Think of it as being outside, looking in on the network.

Aruba’s User Experience Insight provides network managers with everything they need to help understand the user experience and to keep it positive. The end result is great for the network administrator—it means fewer help desk tickets, faster problem resolution and an end to road trips out to remote sites to diagnose problems. For the end users, they get exactly what Renée wants every time she goes to the gym—the best user experience possible.

Here’s a brief overview of how Aruba User Experience Insight works (for more in-depth information read here.) First off, it collects network data from sensors distributed throughout the network. A good rule of thumb is to have one sensor for every 5 to 10 access points and locate them where people work, sit or even workout.

The easy-to-install sensors run tests that continuously measure connectivity to internal and external network services and apps. The data is then fed into an intuitive dashboard that can alert the network team to problems before users are impacted and complain. From the dashboard, a simple traffic light type of display highlights any issues—and what those problems ar

Altogether, four traffic lights show the status of:

  • Overall user experience
  • Core network services, like Wi-Fi, DHCP and DNS
  • Critical internal services, network test suites and local applications
  • Important external cloud-based application services

You can dig deeper into the data to get the status of each sensor, location, SSID, jitter, latency, packet throughput, service, and application. Another nifty feature is the historical data that you can easily review to understand past issues, as well as correlations to specific trouble tickets received. Let’s say you want to review activity on the Wi-Fi from 2:30pm to 3:30pm on July 10. You can quickly pull that timeframe up and look for patterns to help identify problems.

Power Up the Experience Every Day, All Day
Measuring user experience should be part of your daily network drills, just like nutrition and strength training are for Renée’s marathon training. Ignoring user experience can land you in the middle of the pack, where you look much like other businesses that offer similar services, but fall short. Remember, companies with comparable salary caps and stores where inventory looks very much like the one across the street are everywhere. A great digital user experience can make you shine brighter than your competitors.

For the record, keeping my friend happy with her Wi-Fi experience will keep her paying her membership dues long after the marathon is over. Besides encouraging loyalty, good Wi-Fi also tends to shut down bad reviews that can drive customers, employees and new members away.

While you could ask an engineer or IT person to constantly test Wi-Fi and spend time checking in on users, is that the best use of their time and expertise? Aruba’s performance assurance solutions put sensors in the middle of the fray where the people are, and provide the information you need to ensure an amazing experience for all.

The intuitive at-a-glance dashboard and sleek, secure sensors in Aruba User Experience Insight are crowd pleasers. Check out the full performance assurance solution.