User testing doesn’t always begin and end with customers. While they may not be your target market in the conventional sense, installers play a key role in the retention and satisfaction rates for smart home products as less tech-savvy audiences bring more sophisticated gadgets into their living spaces.
Devices like smart thermostats, connected security systems, and remote-activated locks are gaining popularity, even as general knowledge about these products is still relatively low. Home Advisor found that over 45% of installation and maintenance professionals receive smart home installation requests multiple times a week. It’s clear that consumers rely on the experts – smart home installation and maintenance professionals – to recommend, install, and troubleshoot on their behalf.
For companies that produce smart devices, leveraging the unique role contractors play with their customers turns installers into product ambassadors. Here are four reasons why including professional installers in your customer tests is so valuable to product improvement, and why incorporating their feedback ultimately increases usability and product retention.
Installers Are Product Ambassadors
With your potential customers relying on installer expertise to make a decision, familiarizing these professionals with your product increases the likelihood that they’ll advocate for it to their clients. Retailers that also offer installation services are more likely to recommend products that their technicians like and are familiar with.
Beta testing is a very effective place to start – customer tests guide testers through your product step by step. With this informal “training” under their belt, installers will have firsthand experiences they can use on the job once your device hits the market. Knowing that their suggestions and feedback have helped shape your product also gives them a personal stake in its success. They’ll be knowledgeable about its features, more comfortable using it, and much more likely to recommend it to customers.
They Understand Your Customers
Installers regularly work with real people in their actual homes, and these interactions mean they’re tuned in to the trends, challenges, and attitudes of your target audience. When you bring installation professionals into your customer tests, they bring the knowledge and experiences of their clients with them. By leveraging their in-the-field insights alongside users in your target market, you gain a full picture of how users actually interact with your product.
Installers Provide Technical Feedback
Installation is the technician’s bread and butter. Given their expertise, they have a wealth of technical knowledge about product specs that can assist your development team. Their familiarity working with smart products makes them quick to identify the most problematic parts of installation and setup. Additionally, they’re often able to troubleshoot interruptions more accurately than the average tester, which helps your engineers and quality teams resolve issues more quickly.
Their expertise also helps you develop more environmental and natural usage scenarios for test cases. For example, installers might be familiar with other connected devices your product may interact with in homes or offices. And the language and terminology they use in their feedback will help you improve manuals and documentation.
They’re Installation Experts
More than one in three U.S. adults experience issues setting up or operating a connected device. That means that the professionals who refine documentation and help streamline the installation process are major contributors to a seamless user experience.
Easy installation means fewer errors and delays on the technician’s part, shorter installation times, and one less problem for your consumer. Satisfied customers make fewer service and warranty calls, and they’ll be more likely to buy another one of your products when it’s time for an upgrade. Overall, seamless installation reduces returns and increases customer usability and satisfaction.
Should You Include Installers in beta tests?
Inviting installers to participate in your tests is especially useful if you anticipate that some of your market segments will use professional installation. While they may need to be incentivized differently than other testers, their contributions add depth and insight into your customers’ everyday lives. Testing your product with experts alongside real people in their actual living and working environments surfaces nuances that give you an edge over your competition.
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