Improving Customer Experience Using Focused QA Strategy
Author: Harleen Bedi, Principal Consultant
While I sit here pouring my thoughts, we as QA professionals have come a long way in the last decade and a half. From pure play functional testing, which was mostly done manually, today we endeavor to predict defects rather than detect them.
But have you ever wondered, what is causing this change? Apart from a host of technical advancements in recent years, the most important factor has been "end customers/ users".
Flashback: 20 years ago, when most transactions could be predicted in a controlled environment, it made sense to test as per those business requirements only. But today, is it possible to define all the requirements in the first place? Is it even possible to constraint your customers with a set of "features"?
Consider what it may cost a company, if a customer complains about not being able to perform specific actions on its website or app and all they receive is a response like "our app does not provide this feature". In the blink of an eye, you lose your customer to competition. Needless to mention are all the potential negative sentiments that this customer might share on all avenues of social media, which can go viral and impact your brand reputation.
Ensuring Customer Experience should thus be an indispensable aspect of your QA strategy.
How do we define Customer Experience (CX)? CX is a Customer's perception (conscious or subconscious) while interacting with your applications/products. Obviously, seeing the definition, we can "define" requirements and validate those related to the "conscious" part of interactions. How do we define and validate those related to the subconscious ones?
Let's look at, some obvious aspects that may impact your customer experience. To name a few - how easy it is to navigate the app, how it looks and feels, its speed, does it work well on various devices, and do the intended functions work seamlessly?
From QA strategy, these translate into various types of testing that you may need to perform to assure -
- Multi-channel support
Now, the subconscious aspects - do I as a customer trust this brand? What kind of sentiments do I see from other similar customers when I look around? Does it give me enough confidence to get engaged with this brand? Does this brand provide me value for money and something to look forward to?
To address these, as QA experts we shall warrant that we've tested enough for ensuring a secure site or app so that customers are comfortable performing any financial transactions on the site/app. Other than providing a defect-free application, we shall learn from feedback obtained from existing customers and consider updating the test strategy or test scenarios. This will help get good reviews on social media.
QA should also anticipate customer needs and provide recommendations as part of the process. E.g.: design thinking techniques when applied in QA context can help articulate these.
From QA strategy, these translate into various testing techniques you may need to follow, like -
- Security testing
- Analytics on existing Customer sentiments to define test scenarios
- Apply Design Thinking practices for QA
Measure Customer Experience
Just validating various aspects of usability, accessibility, performance etc. in silos will not help define/ measure overall customer experience. These parameters needs to be tested and corroborated in conjunction. Thus, we need to first define the mechanism to measure the experience the application currently delivers and view it in a holistic manner. We should quantify customer experience across various impacting parameters and find ways to benchmark ourselves against the competition.
However, how these parameters define/impact overall customer experience will vary from brand to brand. For each application, QA should understand the parameters impacting customer experience and define a holistic Customer Experience Index score that needs to be assured. QA should help predict and monitor customer experience across releases. Thus, expanding strategies to ensure customer experience along with other customary testing strategies will ensure better engaged customers and thus, more successful implementation of digital programs.