August 19, 2004, 12:00 AM

There’s more than one path to finding where the problem occurs

Retailers must be proactive in finding out where their web site’s problems are, says David Jilk, CEO of site performance monitoring company Xaffire Inc.

 

Retailers must be proactive in finding out where their web site’s problems are, says David Jilk, CEO of site performance monitoring company Xaffire Inc. Searching for pages that contain certain errors are a good start, but they are just that-a start, he says. “Certain types of errors contain certain words, such as ‘database error’ or ‘sql error’ or ‘odbc,’” he says. “But that assumes that you’ll know what the error looks like. So you’re going to miss those that don’t return that kind of error message.”

Such an approach must be supplemented with feedback from a contact center where the reps are hearing from customers where customers are having difficulty completing a transaction.

Support staff using Xaffire’s Xfire propduct can then search on any piece of information that a customer or call center rep provides, including keywords, to cull possible problem sessions from the log. Then they flip through the various possible sessions until they find the problem. “There’s a certain element of manual process here, but you have to compare it to having no idea at all what happened to these users,” Jilk says. “It’s so drastically easier than what they have had to do before.”

While the Xfire product is designed specifically for the IT operation of an organization, the problems that it identifies are not always technical problems, Jilk notes. “A user error could be a design issue,” he says. “In fact, there are some who believe there is no such thing as user error. It’s bad design.”

 

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