The Enterprise Guide to Session Replay

How big companies use session replay as the last mile of analysis—and deliver better business results and customer experiences.

Table of Contents

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

/01

What is session replay?

At its core, session replay is technology that allows you to watch a user’s session as they experienced it, similar to how you watch a video. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward the session (just like a YouTube video) to watch how a user interacts with an application.

Many companies today use session replay technology to monitor and improve the user experience on customer-facing and employee-facing experiences, including on a website, mobile web, mobile native, or kiosk applications.

/02

What are the benefits of using session replay?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how organizations can benefit from using session replay, but it covers some key outcomes.  Session replay gives you a much deeper understanding of the customer perspective, helping organizations with the following:

Reduce customer friction

We’ve all experienced friction on a website or mobile app. It happens when we’re trying to do something—buy something, check our balance, log in, even just browse.

At a basic level, session replay allows teams to view a customer’s digital experience so they can more easily identify what caused the friction. Sometimes just watching a session can clearly show that a button wasn’t working, a form was too long, or an error message occurred.

More advanced session replay tools can automatically identify the friction and where it occurred in an application, segment all users that experienced that friction, and quantify the loss in conversion and revenue. 

Optimize conversion rates

Web analytics platforms like Google or Adobe can show a conversion drop and where that drop occurred in a funnel. But these analytics platforms don’t easily explain why that drop occurred, which makes them less helpful for conversion rate optimization.

Session replay can help conversion-minded stakeholders quickly validate why customers are stumbling during micro-conversion  steps (on their way to an actual conversion) or dropping out of  conversion funnels altogether.

Cobrowse with customers

Sometimes when a customer contacts your support line, he or she is already frustrated with something on the website. A support agent can use session replay to view the customer’s experience as they’re browsing (this is also called cobrowsing) and quickly figure out why a customer couldn’t complete a task.

With a more advanced session replay technology, you could even intervene in real-time when a customer is struggling. Using auto-detection and real-time webhooks, companies can trigger features such as a help message to speak to an agent directly—or a live chat window to proactively engage a customer and potentially deflect a very expensive call into the call center.

Reduce MTTI and MTTR

Technical teams, like engineering and IT ops, track mean time to identify (MTTI)  and mean time to resolve (MTTR) as key performance indicators (KPIs).

With session replay, a developer will have a much easier time reproducing, validating, and resolving a bug or error if there’s a replay included in the ticket. In addition, finding and fixing a bug or issue in QA or staging takes less time and fewer resources than doing so in production.

Develop and iterate new digital products

If you’re going to design a new application, redesign an existing application, or add a shiny new feature to your existing application, taking a data-driven design approach is crucial. And so is having deep customer empathy.

Session replay gives you deeper understanding behind customer intent, customer behaviors, and customer friction—so you can continuously iterate and deliver products that enhance the customer experience.

Deepen customer understanding and empathy

Session replay helps the entire company—from product managers and designers to customer service reps to executives
—literally see what a customer experienced and put themselves in their customers’ shoes.

When an engineer gets a ticket or an analyst runs an analysis, they can use session replay as a way to connect that ticket and that data to an actual person’s experience. Session replay technology puts the customer back into all those clicks, taps, and scrolls on your website.

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When session replay isn’t enough

If you care about the customer experience, there’s nothing more mesmerizing than watching real customers (or employees) interact with a page, feature, or app that you just helped build.

But as time goes on, watching session replays actually becomes a bottleneck. Most enterprise companies capture thousands and thousands of session replays, so watching replay after replay isn’t an efficient way to identify the patterns and insights that your team should act on.


Types of user experience alerts (Rage click, API timeout, App crash, warning) and preview of session replay identifying them

Use session replay as the last mile of analysis and the “indisputable truth.”

The true value of session replay is in all the metadata that you can capture during a session and use to segment and analyze—or better yet, to discover deep insights. Out of the box, a strong session replay vendor should capture hundreds of metrics about each session.
Since most teams have their own data, or “sources of the truth,” a session replay tool can potentially integrate with existing tools (e.g. customer feedback platforms, performance monitoring platforms, etc.),
so that teams always come back to one view of the customer experience. If all the UX metadata is captured, it can serve as the one view of data that everyone in a company agrees is both trusted and real.
In sum, it’s the data and insights that teams should start from to surface, segment, and analyze faster. Session replay is used in the last mile of analysis because it’s the “indisputable truth” of the customer experience behind every data point and chart.

/04

How do enterprise teams use session replay?

When session replay technologies first emerged, they were often used by engineering and IT ops teams to reproduce and validate errors. Thus, many of those earlier technologies were highly technical and sometimes hard to instrument. If you wanted data from session replay, you’d have to open a ticket and wait days to get an answer.

Over time, as more teams started seeing the replays, it’s value naturally spread across the organization. A new crop of session replay vendors (Quantum Metric included) have made it easier for non-technical teams, such as marketing and UX, to start watching and learning from recorded sessions without having to go through IT. Here are a few ways different teams inside your organization can be using session replay:

Product & UX

Product and UX teams drive initiatives through research, testing, and data in order to build the best products and user experiences. A strong session replay technology can facilitate these efforts by providing valuable insights into which interactions are promoting or detracting conversion, driving more accurate and successful testing of new designs. The end result is product iterations that are data driven and customer-centric.

Takeaway: Product and UX teams use session replay to understand how customers interact with their products.

IT ops

IT operations is responsible for managing and monitoring the technologies that run the business. When issues occur, this is the team that typically addresses them. 

While IT ops looks into disruptions to the end user experience, a clear picture of what the customer is doing and seeing in the application is often missing. Session replay combined with analytics can shed significant light on the problem, allowing IT ops to segment affected users to help understand the root cause.

Takeaway: IT ops teams use session replay to quickly reproduce and validate errors.

Development

Whether an issue is identified in QA or production, developers have to replicate and resolve it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there are never enough resources or time to dig deep enough to resolve many issues. But when a QA or production ticket contains a session replay, the time to identify the cause and resolve the issue is drastically decreased.

Takeaway: Development teams use session replay to quickly identify the root cause and resolve issues.

Support

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” —Bill Gates

Imagine a customer calling into customer service and trying to describe a frustrating experience on the website.

Being able to search for a customer’s session and co-browse with the customer removes almost all ambiguity. Plus, if your session replay enables you to segment off analytics and replays for all other customers who had the exact same experience, you can open a ticket so that it gets addressed!

Takeaway: Support teams use session replay to cobrowse with the guest and resolve issues faster.

Customer experience

Customer feedback is a rich source of input but it can often be hard to understand.

With session replay, CX teams can read survey feedback, then watch the corresponding replay to see exactly what a customer experienced, e.g. perhaps there was a confusing design or a button that didn’t work. (Quantum Metric takes it to the next level—by instantly quantifying how many other customers had the exact same problem, even for those who didn’t submit a survey.)

Takeaway: CX teams use session replay to see what really happened after a customer gave feedback.

Employee applications

Employees have a user experience that needs to be improved too—think of apps for bank tellers, airline crew, or call center agents.

Teams focused on employee apps use a session replay tool the way they would for any customer-facing app. They observe how employees interact with these web and mobile apps, where they encounter friction, and look for opportunities to improve the experience.

Takeaway: Employee application teams use session replay to improve employee satisfaction and productivity.

/05

Protecting customer data and privacy captured by session replay

When you deploy session replay on your sites or apps, you’ll have to keep in mind a few security and legal issues in order to protect users’ privacy.

Capture

For most web pages or app views, the vast majority of data that session replay captures is relatively harmless.

For example, a string of text that a user enters into a search field typically isn’t sensitive.

Capture and encrypt

However, there are situations when sensitive data needs to be captured, such as a customer’s name and address or a purchase order number. To protect personal information and stay compliant with GDPR and CCPA, you need to encrypt this data. Once it’s encrypted, you can only decrypt or re-identify the user with a private key.

Do not capture

Lastly, there is data that you should never capture, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers. A good session replay technology should have out-of-the-box mechanisms to exclude this type of data from ever being captured.

Quantum Metric

Customer privacy depends on how data is handled

Quantum Metric handles your data securely. We either never capture private data or encrypt sensitive data on the customer’s device. Visit our Data and Security page to learn how Quantum Metric handles your data differently and ensures customer privacy.

Learn More

/06

How to evaluate enterprise session replay vendors

There are dozens of session replay tools to choose from and, of course, the best choice for you will depend on your business requirements. Below are some criteria that we commonly see and recommend to enterprise companies that are evaluating session replay vendors.

Data capture and session replay

  • How easy is it to start capturing data on day one and on an ongoing basis as
    you push new features and products?
  • Is the replay detailed and seamless enough to capture specificities such as
    exact button clicks, minor mouse movements, and page scrolls?
  • Do you need cross-platform visibility, such as web, mobile web, mobile app
    (native app), and kiosk?
  • Do you want to capture 100% of sessions for more accuracy and analysis?
  • What level of session replay fidelity do your teams need?
  • How easy is the playback functionality to navigate, pinpoint, and share?

Advanced analytics

  • What types of behavioral, technical, and business data do you want alongside session replays to facilitate faster learning and collaboration across teams?
  • What functionality will uncover insights and opportunities so that teams don’t have to watch endless replays?
  • What level of anomaly detection will help your teams be more proactive?
  • What out-of-the-box and configurable dashboards, events, funnels, scheduled reports, and proactive alerting do different teams need?
  • Can you combine multiple layers of data in search queries, like page-level and session-level?

Integrations

  • What workflows will you want to support with session replay, and which integrations are needed for that?
  • Examples include data warehouses, survey providers, experimentation, application performance monitoring, and incident management systems.
  • Do you care if there is a growing ecosystem of partners to ensure you are not investing in a walled garden?

Security

  • How easy is it to configure PII capture and ensure employees can safely access data when needed?

Performance and overhead

  • What impact will the tag have on site performance and the customer experience?

Education and Support

  • What type of self-service education and/or certification is available?
  • Do you need dedicated training, support, or professional services?

/07

Top session replay vendors for the enterprise

Here are some of the more popular session replay technologies on the market.

See customer reviews for session replay vendors

You can do more research on any of them via peer review sites like G2, TrustRadius, or Gartner Peer Insights. These sites also allow you to filter reviews so that you can read the most relevant reviews to your needs, such as by company size, industry, or user role.

G2.com, Inc

Session Replay Software

Read Reviews

TrustRadius

Heatmap and Session Recording Software

Read Reviews

Gartner Peer Insights

Web and Mobile App Analytics

Read Reviews

/08

Learn about Quantum Metric, the Continuous Product Design platform

We’re glad you found us and hope you’ll be interested in learning how you can get so much out of a session replay.

Our customers use session replay as the visual evidence behind a powerful real-time data engine that combines anomaly detection, analytics, and monitoring. Ultimately, we partner with customers to help them build better digital products faster through a process we call Continuous Product Design (CPD).

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