When most people think of “beta test feedback,” they think of bug reports and feature requests. And they’re not wrong — issues and ideas are a key component to a successful pre-release customer test. But they aren’t the only way that test managers should be collecting feedback during beta.
With a targeted group of candidates and the right setup in place, your testers will be more than willing to share their thoughts about your product. But the way testers want to share their input may not be limited to weekly surveys or the odd bug. They’ll probably want to talk about something you haven’t prompted them on, like the design of the user interface. They often have out-of-the-box ideas about how the product could be used.
In truth, testers are more likely to stay engaged when they’re encouraged to submit feedback in a variety of ways — especially if those outlets are collaborative and creative. Instead of just one or two options, giving testers a few more avenues to express themselves adds depth and valuable insight that you won’t want to miss out on.
Here are four alternative types of feedback you should really be collecting alongside issues and ideas if you want to get the absolute most out of your beta tests.
While we mainly think of beta as a way of identifying things a product isn’t doing right or could be doing better, customer feedback doesn’t have to be negative to be useful. Specific feedback about positive experiences with your product from testers is also really valuable; knowing what works well is just as important as fixing what isn’t.
Tester praise is great for your engineering and UX teams. Beyond just making developers and designers feel good, it gives them a better idea of what your customers like. Praise is also a useful resource for sales and marketing teams, who can use positive feedback as customer testimonials. They can also use praise to highlight delightful product areas in sales conversations and promotional materials.
Discussion boards are a classic way for testers to channel their excitement about your pre-release product into productive discussions with other testers. It’s also a great chance for test managers to engage with testers and encourage participation outside the limits of your feedback forms.
In addition to the organic topics of conversation, you can seed specific topics you’d like to see discussed, such as asking what testers think about the UI color palette. These prompts will give testers a launching-off point for discussions and spark additional participation and product exploration. Savvy test managers will be able to pick up on themes in these discussions that could inspire future surveys or tasks to get more structured feedback on relevant topics.
Pro Tip: Discussion boards prevent leaks. When testers have a designated, secure space to share their thoughts about the product with other testers, it dramatically reduces their temptation to violate their NDA by talking about it on social media.
In beta testing, just like in life, a picture is worth a thousand words. Encouraging your testers to submit photos or videos of themselves using your product at home — whether they’re installing a thermostat, cooking with a smart appliance, or showing off their sound system — lets you see your product through your customers’ eyes. Getting these firsthand details of real-world product use, like where and how they’ve set up the product, adds depth and nuance to your use cases and stimulates innovation.
It’s also a great way to channel your testers’ excitement productively and keep them engaged. Just make sure you remind them of the NDA they signed, and ask them to keep the media private.
Private journals are a great way to gauge the day-to-day user experience. Unlike surveys or bug reports, they offer a sense of the overall temperature of how your testers view your product. This is especially useful for products you might expect your customers to use every day, like an oven or smart lighting. Journals allow users to catalogue these casual experiences as they naturally occur over time, offering insights into product usage you just can’t replicate in a lab.
Need a Wingman?
Feedback is the lifeblood of customer testing. Without it, you won’t get the insights you need to improve your product and increase satisfaction. But collecting and managing that feedback isn’t always easy, especially when you’re copying and pasting feedback between your email client and three spreadsheets.
The Centercode Platform does the collecting, organizing, and prioritizing for you with unique automation capabilities designed specifically for beta and Delta projects. See how our powerful feedback engine will transform your pre-release feedback efforts by scheduling your demo right now.