Growing up in the twentieth century, I’m sure we have all witnessed our parents and grandparents taking us to do the daily chores. Be it going to the same barber to cut our hair, or going to the same tailor to stitch our clothes, or the same grocery store that they have been going to for ages. This is mostly because of the close relationship that was built over the years between the consumer and the vendors, where loyalty and quality were prioritized more than ever. However, with the rise of the information age and digitalization, shops and vendors have been upgrading their services to serve a larger group of consumers and extend their reach from small localities to wider geographies, and also competing with the global eCommerce firms that are trying to capture a majority of the market share.
With so many brands, competitors, and vendors taking the online route, how does one stand out in the marketplace? By keeping an eye out on online ratings, reviews, and consumer experience. In the world of digitalization, many consumers are starting to depend on reviews posted by other consumers, the ratings that businesses receive, and experiences shared by others about the business or product. While these three aspects play a crucial role in the digital transformation of businesses, we will specifically focus on factors of App Testing to improve the Consumer Experience.
But before we get to the crux of the subject we need to understand what exactly Consumer Experience (CX) means?
What is Consumer Experience?
Consumer Experience encompasses various aspects of a business that a consumer encounters. Starting from jotting down available options, assessing the service, interacting with the product, making a decision to buy, and leaving their feedback about the service cover Consumer Experience (CX). It is the culmination of the interactions between a consumer and a business or an organization when the services or products are being exchanged between the parties. Consumer Experience isn’t restricted only to a particular period when a customer performs a transaction with the business or vendor. Rather it is the wholesome experience that one goes through in availing a particular service or product.
Consumer Experience and the App industry
With the advancement of technology and the information age, the way to engage our customers has drastically changed. The smartphone generation has leveled the playing field for advertisers, businesses, and vendors to creatively engage their customers. With the advent of Social Media, Omni-channel marketing, customized notifications, etc. have become prime importance for businesses to succeed. And, with a number of apps competing in the market and making their way into our phones. There is no room for errors or second chances. While Consumer Experience is not only about Mobile and Web Apps, the App industry sure does play an important role. Of course, the approach to enhance the consumer experience is to start with the consumer. And consumer Experience Testing is one of the key approaches that bring the QA industry closer to the user/consumer-centric approach. Here’s a helpful webinar that sheds more on Consumer Experience and the Role of Testing.
Where do we start?
As suggested earlier, it is vital to start from the customer and incorporate QA from the beginning of the development itself. But how do we do that? – Is a question that has been gaining popularity amongst many QA experts in the field. While exploratory testing comes closer to incorporating a user-centric testing approach it isn’t the end-all. Creating a continuous feedback loop through the use of DevOps, testing around consumer behavior, analyzing consumer data to understand their needs are some of the main aspects that one should focus on when considering consumer experience testing. Here are four core aspects of Consumer Experience –
- Hearing the Consumer
- Mapping Customer Journey
- Digital Testing
- Consumer experience testing
Hearing the Customer
Getting to know the needs of the customer is primary to any product or service offerings by businesses and vendors. With that said, it becomes vital that we understand the needs of the customer in order to provide an delightful experience. But, how do we get to know the needs of the customer? This is where the use of surveys and questionnaires comes into play. Hearing the Customer is not just a primary step, but rather a continuous process. We are supposed to be focused on constantly receiving feedback from the customers or target audience to solve their problems. This constant feedback loop between the stakeholders, development, and operation teams creates a more robust framework that supports the user/customer-centric approach. This continuous feedback loop helps us understand the consumer’s needs to curate the solutions that provide a delightful experience. Once we understand the needs of the customer, we can move on to the customer journey process, where we will start to map out the solution from start to finish.
Mapping the customer journey
There are a number of things that come to play when we talk about mapping the customer journey. Customer journey is a detailed roadmap of the list of tasks that the customer performs along with the feeling that he/she harbors while performing the task to render the service. For example, a person might be feeling anxious once they fill in the card details to make a purchase and wait for a confirmation, or he/she might be excited to see that a particular product is on discount. The customer journey mapping not only captures the details of the tasks and emotions but also helps enhance the consumer experience and brings clarity within the teams to design and improve the required solutions. But before we even attempt to chart out the course, it is important to gather information about the target audience, do a competitor analysis, conduct customer surveys, and draw insights from previously researched sources. And if it is a new segment by itself. Conducting moderated or unmoderated discussions, surveys, and interviews will provide valuable insights to create a clear roadmap to address the current needs of the consumers.
The customer journey mapping exercise will provide us information about the different stages, the anticipated feeling of the customer, the touchpoints they will use at various stages, etc. The customer journey map will help us gain a holistic understanding of not just the physical needs, but also gives us insights into the emotions that one might experience at different stages. This would enable us to think, feel and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes to curate a holistic solution that is genuine and empathetic.
The rise in the use of various digital touchpoints has made it easy for consumers to look for solutions. It is essential to gather an understanding of the various digital touchpoints that one would use for a particular task, so as to map out and test them based on our journey maps. For instance, until recently, a majority of the payment-related tasks used to be done on a laptop or computer system, since security was a concern. However, with the rise of secure encryption across payment gateways on smartphones, most people now prefer smartphones for the ease of access to make payments. When we look at other tasks, most times we see that people perform their research through google searches on their phones, or mobile apps. Now, ensuring that apps function properly by testing them thoroughly, performing testing across different devices and various browsers will provide the assurance that a customer would have a smooth experience while performing various tasks. Think of the different interfaces (App, Kiosk, Website) that a customer would use, the different types of interaction (Voice – Audio Testing, Type, Gesture) he/she would be comfortable with, etc.
And of course, performing these tests manually could take forever. However, leveraging various automation techniques to fasten the testing would ensure timely updates and improvements to the system. Which in turn will ensure that customers get the best experience possible. Testing future technologies is also a key aspect in staying ahead of the game to provide the best consumer experience. Testing wearables, smart speakers, and other devices that support IoT will not only broaden the ecosystem of devices but also increase the ease of access, and reliability.
Consumer Experience Testing
What is the experience that customers would have when going through your website? Is it easy for them to navigate through the website to reach a particular page or solution? If your business is a global e-commerce company, how easy or difficult is it to complete a product purchase in real-life scenarios. How will an app perform when the battery is running low, or the network reception isn’t that great? What is going through the mind of the user when a particular app isn’t responding appropriately, is he or she able to resolve it? These are some of the questions that would shed light on the experience of the consumer when using your service or a product. Using different types of testing like resilience testing, exploratory testing, website navigation, Usability testing, will provide us the data to improve, bring new features, or get rid of the features that we don’t need to increase the performance of the system. Consequently, this will result in enhancing the consumer experience from time to time.
Consumer Experience plays an important role in keeping our customers satisfied and engaged. And testing plays a crucial role in ensuring that the quality of the systems is on point so that consumers enjoy a smooth experience when using a product or availing a service. Understanding these important factors that affect and enhance the consumer experience will go a long way in choosing the right strategies to rethink and improve the features of your products and services. While QA plays a crucial role in testing, it is important for all teams to work together to understand the exact needs of the customer and meet their expectations promptly. Here is another helpful resource that sheds light on the other important App Testing technologies of 2021.