Cutting Support Costs with Beta Testing

We all know that beta testing holds immense potential for achieving quality and marketing goals. It allows you to find and fix bugs that could’ve been catastrophic at launch and helps hone your marketing message to make sure it resonates with your market. But beta testing can also help you decrease support costs, which can have a major effect on your product and customer experience as well.

Support costs are on the rise as products get more complex and customers expect more out of the devices in their lives. Customers are also growing more impatient and expecting support more quickly than ever. This creates a challenge for companies launching new products. They need to decrease the need for support while improving the support their team provides. Beta can help achieve both of those goals. Here’s how.

Get Proactive About Support

It starts by adjusting your mindset. Support has traditionally been a reactive endeavor. You release your product, man your help desk, and wait for the phone to ring. But with that approach, you’re missing the opportunity to test and improve your support experience before your product is out the door.

With beta testing you can gauge the customer experience before you launch your product. You can look for areas where customers will get confused or frustrated and reach out for support. With that knowledge you can build a proactive support strategy that tries to solve customer issues before the product is even in their hands and support them fully after it is.

Improve the Customer Experience

Beta testing is often the first time real customers are using your product in real environments. This can uncover a whole host of issues that your team never noticed. Is the product frustrating to set up? Is the user interface intuitive? Can customers find and understand major features? Beta testing can answer all these questions and highlight the points where your customers are going to struggle.

This gives you a golden opportunity to improve those experiences before you launch your product. You can tweak your UI to make it easier to navigate. You can write your quickstart guide so that it walks customers through confusing steps. You can put tips into your interface to point users in the right direction.

These changes will help you overcome potential support issues, decreasing support requests while increasing customer satisfaction.

Refine Your Documentation

Customers are more willing than ever to try and solve their problems themselves so often their first stop when they run into trouble is going to be your help articles or FAQ. Since you’ve identified the issues customers have when using the product during beta testing, you can write documentation that truly helps your customers handle these issues.

Too often support documentation is based off of idealized versions of customer usage. Beta testing identifies real scenarios where customers run into problems and gives you detailed context about what was happening in that moment.

During beta you collect specific information about the other tech devices your product is interacting with, so you can look for interoperability problems. You also collect information about the steps that preceded the bug or problem. You can use this detailed context to understand the scenarios your customers are experiencing and build your documentation off of that knowledge.

You can also have your beta testers review your documentation and suggest improvements that could make it more clear for future readers. This will increase your customers’ ability to help themselves and decrease the weight placed on your support team.

Prepare Your Support Team

Finally, use the information collected in beta to help prepare your support team. Have members of your support team provide support during the beta test so they can get used to answering real questions from real customers. This can identify holes or points of friction in your processes that can be improved before they’re rolled out to your entire help desk.

You can also prepare your support team with information about any known issues that your dev team wasn’t able to fix before launch. With the proper details and context they can provide much better support to your customers when they run into those issues. They can also share any workarounds your beta testers found with customers to help them continue to use the product.

Delight Your Customers

By focusing on improving the customer experience and making the support experience as positive and painless as possible, you not only decrease your support costs but also increase customer satisfaction with your product and your brand. You can surprise and delight your customers by showing how well prepared and thought-out your documentation and support processes are. In today’s competitive marketplace, that can make the difference between a successful launch and a PR disaster.

Check out our library for more beta best practices!

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