If you’re building a product that makes an element of everyday life “smart”, you’re probably also helping to create a whole new market that has no set industry standards or expectations. What many people don’t realize is that this makes aligning customer expectations a major challenge since, in most instances, you’re working with customers that don’t really know what to expect from your product.
From customers misunderstanding the actual purpose of your product to finding it too confusing to set up, there are lots of things that could disappoint your customers. So you need to ensure what you’re delivering aligns with what customers believe you’re delivering. After all, you’re looking to add technology to aspects of our lives that nobody imagined just a few years ago, so in most cases customers will either have really high expectations for the amazing things your product will do or will be completely clueless about it.
One of the best ways to mitigate customer misalignment is through beta testing. Beta testing gives you the opportunity to get feedback from real-life users and identify where your messaging is on target and where it’s causing misconceptions or frustration.
Here are some of the key reasons why your customers might be disappointed and how beta testing can help.
It Doesn’t Do What They Expect It to Do
One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that your customers haven’t misunderstood the purpose of your product. If you’re launching a new product or a new product category, customers don’t necessarily know what it’s going to deliver. As a result, they’re comparing your product with an image of your product in their head, which could be an unrealistically high bar to reach.
From how you present your product to the documentation you provide, the messaging you use is vital to making sure your customers know what your product will deliver. Beta testing allows you to understand your potential customers’ first impressions to see whether your product is living up to your target market’s expectations.
Using an onboarding survey in the first 24 hours and even asking for unboxing videos can help you gather details about testers’ very first experiences with the product. You can gauge whether your product has the features users expected it to have and if there’s anything about the product that surprised them. It also allows you to see exactly how customers end up using your product, which may not actually be how you thought they’d use it.
It’s a Pain to Use
Even if there’s alignment between what your customers expect your product to do and what it actually does, it could be so difficult to use your product that customers decide it isn’t worth the hassle. When you’re building a new product (especially an IoT product), you need to make the experience effortless. Beta testing gives you the chance to see if your customer experience is as painless as it needs to be.
One great way to gather this feedback is by having testers complete journals throughout the beta test. This will help you look for everyday frustrations with the product that may not have been problematic enough to result in a bug report, but are affecting the customer experience. These can help you find areas of friction that could make your future customers decide your product isn’t worth the struggle.
It Doesn’t Work with Their Other Devices
Your product will need to work within existing and evolving ecosystems that include a wide variety of other tech products. You need to make sure your product works with as many of these devices and environments as you can, otherwise, you could end up with a segment of frustrated customers that can’t get your product to work.
While your team may have put your product through its paces in a lab environment, beta testing places your products in more varied ecosystems with users that aren’t as familiar with your product as your QA team is.
Through the beta process, you can make sure testers with the relevant ecosystems or products are represented, leading to far more testing environments than you could achieve in a lab. Your beta testers can also help you regress fixes and find workarounds for issues that can’t be solved.
They Can’t Get the Support They Need
With products becoming increasingly more complex, customers are also expecting more support from companies, so your documentation and support processes need to be ready to deliver. Beta testing can help your support team prepare as they’ll be faced with real customers that have real questions. The feedback gained from the beta test can be used to improve upon your documentation and support processes based on the hurdles testers struggled with.
The feedback collected in beta is much more in-depth than what your support team can get from a customer call. You can use that additional context to look for root causes and provide your support team with important details that surround known issues, so they can use that to improve the support experience. This will help make sure your team’s advice and support resources align with the real user experience and not an idealized version of what you expect the experience to be.
The most important thing to remember is that beta testing can do far more than just catch bugs. By using beta testing to analyze the true customer experience, you can make sure your product is delivering everything that you promise it will. This will not only give you a stronger product, but also much happier customers.