The Five W’s of Beta Testing

In part three of our Customer Validation webinar series, we discussed Beta Testing and the importance of assessing customer satisfaction with your entire product experience. If you missed the webinar, here are the major takeaways to help you plan and run an effective Beta Test.

What is Beta Testing?

Beta Testing is the second (and most widely recognized) testing methodology in Customer Validation, and occurs after you’ve completed a successful Alpha Test (or series of successful Alpha Tests). Beta Tests evaluate the customer satisfaction with your product by guiding targeted users through a product tour over a period of weeks. Your product should be complete or nearly complete at this time, with testers focused on assessing the entire customer experience with the product.

Keep in mind that Beta Tests follow the same requirements of all Customer Validation tests (real people, real environments, real products) but answer one specific question: do customers like the product?

Why Should My Company Invest in Beta Testing?

Running a Beta Test provides a complete view of the true customer experience of your product. It gives you perspective that cannot be achieved through any other testing methodology, and is critical to ensuring the success of your product.

While many companies recognize the inherent value in Beta Testing, they often lack the mature processes and strategies to get the most value out of their Betas. Therefore, understanding how Beta Testing is different from the other CV methodologies is the first step toward ensuring that you’re deriving the true value out of this phase.

Who Does Beta Testing Apply to?

As with all Customer Validation methodologies, Beta Testing applies to every product with a customer base. This means any hardware, software, and services product with a consumer, business, or enterprise cliental will find value in Beta Testing. Hardware products, in particular, need to pass Beta Tests with flying colors since they can’t be updated as easily as software products.

Where Does Beta Testing Live in My Company?

Having a team devoted to running Customer Validation tests of all types is ideal, that way your company can ensure that your Alpha, Beta, and Field Tests are being run as part of a cohesive program.

Beyond that, the primary stakeholders of a Beta Test are user experience and product management teams. These are the groups that most directly benefit from user acceptance feedback on the product, though the value of releasing customer-validated products will eventually radiate to all teams associated with it.

When Does Beta Testing Take Place Within the Product Lifecycle?

Beta Testing occurs after quality assurance and Alpha Testing have been completed but before the product has launched. In order to get the best results, your product should be 80%-90% release ready. Many companies try to skip Alpha Testing and go straight into Beta, but this often results in Beta units that have show-stopping bugs. Once this happens, your testers will no longer be able to provide feedback and it will severely inhibit the effectiveness of your Beta Test.

How Do You Run Beta Tests?

As with any Customer Validation test, Beta Tests follow a specific plan, schedule, and message to meet certain objectives. Beta Tests specifically require a product tour approach to running the test with an intent on discovering “FIPs” — insights that determine what parts of your product to Fix, Improve, and Promote. To learn more about the details of these strategies and how Centercode runs Beta Tests, watch the full recording (starting at the 18-minute mark) and let us know if you have questions on your specific Customer Validation tests.

View the full webinar recording!

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