My two favorite moments during a mostly uneventful Super Bowl were 1) Tony Romo circling all of the “punts” and 2) watching the Amazon Beta Testing Program commercial. During the game, the online retail giant unveiled the mystery behind its cryptic teasers to millions of viewers.
The clips made headlines last week when Harrison Ford, the Kelly twins, and other celebrities hinted to an Alexa-related promotion. We now know that Mr. Ford had good reason to not be thrilled about the Beta Test. And that Mr. Whitaker’s toothbrush was a little “weird.” From rolling blackouts to a very enthusiastic hot tub, the Amazon Beta Testing Program commercial makes light of smart products – with all their hilarious shortcomings.
OK, so it’s fictitious – if a dog using voice-command to order an entire pallet of dog food is any indication. But while the Amazon Beta Testing Program (or this celebrity version) is make-believe, the company itself and other industry leaders are calling attention to their real customer testing efforts.
The Real Stuff Behind the ‘Amazon Beta Testing Program’
Technology giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are among the over 70% of modern enterprises that run Beta Tests to validate their products with customers. Some have been doing it for decades. Yet it’s only in recent years that executives have gone public about their desire to integrate the voice of the customer throughout the product life cycle.
In the last six months alone, companies like Twitter, Hulu, and Sonos have spoken up about Customer Validation. Twitter’s Sara Haider, their director of product management, told an audience at CES that Twitter wants “to develop a service for the people that are using it, and we have to involve people in that way. We have a platform that the world uses to speak their mind, why not use that as part of our development process?”
Customer Insights Aren’t ‘Optional’ Anymore
The discourse confirms that attitudes toward Beta Testing are shifting from concept to necessity. As consumer demands for a seamless experience get louder, more and more companies find they have to put their products in the hands of their real live customers. Doing so gives them the insight required to secure delightful product experiences. Taking it another step further, they’re pushing customer insight initiatives to the forefront.
Why the change? Well for one, a laser focus on your customers offers a competitive edge. It could also relate back to a rise in consumer mistrust. In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that public’s trust in organizations had hit historic lows. It might follow then that if you want to prove you have your customers’ best interests at heart, show strong company ethics and bring customers to the table. Not just at the tail end of development either – use their insights throughout the entire product life cycle.
Not Everything Makes the Cut
The timing of the Amazon Beta Testing Program ads probably isn’t a coincidence. Amazon has lately fallen victim to its own interoperability woes. Two weeks ago, they withdrew the Echo Wall Clock ‘due to connectivity issues.’ Add this to the larger challenges within the IoT Industry: inflated customer expectations, difficulty with onboarding and adoption, and market saturation.
A monolith like Amazon can afford to laugh at their mistakes. But when you think that 75% of all IoT projects are failing, it’s much more serious. That gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to Beta Testing. Data-driven decision-making – validated in the real world by a community of targeted, enthusiastic beta testers – is a buffer between your product and catastrophe.
Spectacular fails are obviously not as fun and lighthearted as the ones portrayed in the Amazon Beta Program ad (though my dogs would love a pair of those collars). Amazon knows better than most that innovative ideas come with high risk. Thankfully, customers are answering companies who ask for feedback to diminish their risk and improve their products. The trick now is learning more efficient ways to listen.
Learning More About Customer Validation
If you’re currently running a customer testing program that makes you feel like the Amazon commercial is too close to reality, you are not alone. Seventy percent of professionals running customer tests are not satisfied with the results.
Start seeing higher outcomes from your Alpha, Beta, and Delta Testing efforts by downloading the free kits and templates in Centercode’s resource library. You can also get a free test plan consultation to get moving in the right direction.