Recently, I attended the 2018 Customer Validation Conference in southern California, where product testing experts from B2B and B2C companies (including Autodesk, Tableau, Test Fairy, FitBit, and GoPro) shared tips and lessons learned from the forefront of product development and testing.
Below are the three key takeaways that I learned at the conference – and that any CMO and product marketing manager needs to keep in mind to ensure product launch (and brand) success.
- Today’s product testing isn’t just about making sure your product features work – it’s about Customer Validation
According to a 2015 study by the Systems Sciences Institute, the cost of fixing a product bug after launch can be anywhere from 4-5 times higher than if the issue were identified during the development/design cycle.
But in today’s hyper competitive market landscape, it isn’t just about making sure that your product features meet the description outlined in your PRD (product requirements doc) during Alpha and Beta Testing…it’s about confirming that your product not only works but that it meets the expectations of the user and buyer you are targeting. It’s about Customer Validation.
Customer Validation is a disciplined framework and approach that enables companies to evaluate the stability, satisfaction, and adoption of a technology product before release by leveraging user-persona testers using the products in real environments over time.
For CMOs, product managers, and marketers, Customer Validation confirms that your solution addresses the market problem in a way that your target buyer and user will be able to easily (and eagerly) deploy it. Simply put, Customer Validation can help you align your market problem definition and your buyer and user personas with the real-world, and it can impact not only how you develop your final product, but your marketing and sales efforts as well.
- Be wary of just using employees or long-time customers to test your productAccording to Centercode’s Director of Betabound, Brad Day, the following are key shortcomings to limiting your customer validation and product testing to these audiences:
- They typically are unpredictable and unreliable. Getting quality, detailed feedback on an Alpha or Beta Test from an existing customer or employee is often a time-consuming process and one that often produces highly inconsistent results and poor participation. After all, these are the folks that are either using your products to solve their current problem or the folks that are currently working on building or selling your solution.
- Their feedback is often biased. Employees and long-time customers can provide useful feedback based on their prior use of your existing products. But if one of your product goals is to reach new customers, using a pool of independent testers (that are based on your user and buyer personas) will help your team acquire useful data for the broader market that you are targeting with your solution.
- The key to getting actionable and detailed data faster – make it easy for your product team and testers to get and provide feedbackImplementing a Customer Validation platform that helps you position your product for success starts with having a well-defined, disciplined and efficient testing framework in place. A tester recruitment program, automated and customizable reports, the ability to see tester interactions in real-time, and features that allow testers to quickly provide feedback (versus having to fill out a long form or do a detailed interview over the phone with an overworked product manager) are just a few of the elements of a solid Customer Validation program.
Today’s technology product development teams continue to shrink in size – and are required to do more (and more) with less. For many technology companies, using solutions like Centercode’s Customer Validation platform, Test Fairy (a mobile testing platform), and Betabound can help companies speed up the process of deploying a solid Customer Validation framework that can help deliver faster and more meaningful feedback during the product development phase and beyond.
This post was originally published by E.E. Wang Lukowski as an article on LinkedIn. We have posted it to the Centercode blog with her permission.
To learn more about Customer Validation, and to get an inside look at how the Centercode Platform centralizes an entire Alpha, Beta, and Field Testing program in one place, watch a platform demo!