Digital Desertion: What consumers expect from website and application performance


Consumers’ expectations of online experience are changing rapidly. Compared to just a few years ago, we’re more demanding and less forgiving of websites and apps, and organizations of all sizes need to bear this in mind–before they suffer ‘digital desertion’ from their customers. Recently, Apica set out to investigate just how much attitudes towards brands’ digital performances have evolved. We spoke with 2,250 internet users across the US, UK and Sweden. Here’s what we found.

Long load times lose loyalty

The longer a website or app takes to load, the more the user’s patience will be tried. In fact, 40% of our respondents admitted they will only wait a maximum of 10 seconds for a website to respond before losing patience and moving on to an alternative site. 11% would not even spare five seconds of their time to wait for the website or app to load.

With poor performance, brand loyalty wavers. Our survey also discovered that 60% of respondents were likely to become less loyal to a particular brand if they encountered poor website or app performance. Worryingly (for internet retailers at least!), 10% of participants said they would never return to purchase goods or services from a brand that had disappointed them previously with poor application performance.

These results demonstrate that digital consumers have limited patience for slow performance or delays. There is clearly a global expectation that sites and apps will perform faster and better, with the onus now on businesses, whatever their industry, to ensure peak performance at all times. This survey is a timely reminder that only through proper testing and monitoring of their sites and applications can organizations guarantee both consistent uptime and the loyalty of their customers.

Planned downtime is a bad option for businesses

Opinions on website maintenance scheduling were closely divided, but even though 46% of respondents would accept several hours of website downtime, they nonetheless expected clear communication of the reasons for the lack of availability. The remaining 54% wouldn’t wait more than an hour for maintenance updates to be made. And a fair number of us now expect sites to run all the time. Depending on the nature of the application, organizations may be able to achieve this by rolling out deployments to only portions of an application at a time. Of course, it’s key to schedule maintenance windows at times that minimize impact on end-users.

And news spreads fastest through word-of-mouth

This is the age of social media. But perhaps what online-based companies need to be concerned about more than anything is the power of word-of-mouth. Indeed, 83% of respondents said that they would likely inform a colleague of a website’s poor performance. A further 4 out of 10 would definitely share information about a poor online experience with family, friends or colleagues. This is something that companies cannot avoid–bad news travels fast. A poor first impression on a consumer can have serious and lasting impact.

What can we expect to come from all this?

Ultimately, this significant rise in consumer demand serves as a wake-up call to businesses; digital desertion is a real issue that organizations must address before the damage is done. Companies of all sizes need to ensure they have the right testing and monitoring tools, people and processes in place to address increasingly high customer expectations and avoid complete ‘digital desertion’.

To retain both customers and revenue, focus must fall on proactive performance testing and monitoring of digital services to ensure that, even at peak times and peak usage, downtime and performance bottlenecks are mitigated before they affect end-users. After all, we’re less tolerant than ever and are more than ready to share a poor digital experience with friends and colleagues.

To find out more, download the executive report “Digital Desertion: The Rise of Consumer Expectations on Website and Application Performance and the Impact of Negative Digital Experiences”