If you ever find your beta program encountering resistance, take a look at where it fits in the big picture. No man is an island, and the same goes for beta programs. The more disconnected your work is from others, the harder it becomes to see the good you’re doing. But there’s one sure-fire way to get more recognition for your beta tests — sharing your test data with others. There are more teams that could benefit from your customers’ feedback than you may realize.
We’ve already discussed how to gather marketing data from your beta, but it’s worth mentioning again. Marketing can leverage beta test data to better understand customer experience, reactions to features, effectiveness of design and packaging, etc. And if you get Marketing involved early enough, your tests can be an inexpensive source of focus group data that they would otherwise be spending a lot of money to gather. Your relationship with the Marketing team is one of the most important to build.
Your company’s support team can reap huge benefits from beta test data. Common problems encountered in the beta test are a good bet to become hot spots for user support after release. Thus, your data gives Support an excellent preview of potential issues and an opportunity to prepare their systems and documentation. If they’re ready, you could also ask them to provide live support during the beta test. You will find beta testing is an amazing resource for prepping your support team.
The IT team likely provides support for your company’s web site, support tools, and any other Internet or telephone-based resources that customers will use. Your beta test provides the opportunity to test and verify that all these systems work the way they should prior to release. Whether IT is reviewing beta test data alongside their own log files, or collaborating with you to stress test the systems in real time, there is a lot of value to be gained through both teams working closely.
If you make hardware, beta tests give your manufacturing team a chance to learn how the hardware is holding up and examine potential production issues. It’s not easy for manufacturing to get first-hand feedback about durability, quality, or design before a product has shipped. However, your beta test gives them that opportunity.
If there’s one team that we recommend distancing from your beta tests, it’s probably sales. The temptation for sales to use your beta testers as a source of leads is strong, and that can strain your tester relationship. There’s also the chance that unannounced features or features that won’t make release will become talking points with customers. Just use your best judgment here, knowing that sometimes sales and beta don’t mix very well.
Now, how do you facilitate all this sharing?
That’s where we come in. Our beta test management software, has several features that make the sharing, sifting, and sorting of beta test data much easier than any other approach. Centercode’s Feedback Management tools allow you to route your feedback (manually or automatically) to those who need it most. And our Custom Views and Filters allow your team to work with specific subsets of feedback, focusing on only the issues relevant to their function.
Who do you share your beta test data with? Let us know in the comments!