Everyone’s under a lot of stress — and unsurprisingly, the companies producing new products are experiencing parallel challenges to the customers they’re serving. The full economic toll of COVID-19 in the foreseeable future is a magnet for uncertainty around new product launches and releases. Many workers are still remote, which means they’re still learning how to minimize friction between new communication protocols and expectations.
And, as with their customers, money is tight. Layoffs and furloughs weigh heavily on many. A recession means the stakes for releasing products are higher than ever. Companies literally can’t afford for their products to flop.
The Secret to Survival? Prioritizing Customer Experience
While the devastation of COVID-19 is unprecedented, past recessions shed some light on how to survive its economic effects. Research from McKinsey & Company highlights the role that focusing on customer experience played during the 2007-09 recession. Notably, customer experience leaders saw three times higher returns to their shareholders during that three-year span.
There’s never been a more important time to make sure you’re listening to your customers. It’s essential to ensuring your product gets it right.
Beta testing gives you the opportunity to do just that — listen to your customers and let their input guide you toward building better products. Here’s why beta is more important than ever when you’re trying to stay afloat in a turbulent post-pandemic marketplace.
Beta increases product quality and usability
Beta testing brings many benefits to your product, but its primary job hasn’t changed in nearly three decades: increasing quality and usability. It does this by putting your product in the hands of target market customers to use out in the real-world before launch.
What has changed are customers — and their expectations. Technology is getting more sophisticated and offers more personalized experiences, elevating what people expect it to be capable of. At the same time, advanced technology is more mainstream, meaning audiences are less tech-savvy. Combined with the lack of patience brought on by COVID-related circumstances, there are simply more dealbreakers than there used to be.
States are opening up, but the “uncertainty” brought on by COVID-19 is far from over — and its impact is changing the way consumers interact with technology. Stress is making people less tolerant of minor setbacks. They are more sensitive to friction and more likely to express their feelings in a public forum. And money is tight — consumers are, out of necessity, more discerning about the value-add of the products they bring into their lives.
Beta testing keeps you ahead of your customers’ frustrations by surfacing any “dealbreakers” before release. Releasing a target audience-vetted product ultimately reduces the stress on your already stressed-out customers. This translates to higher star ratings, fewer returns, and more security in your market.
Beta connects you with your customers
More than surfacing critical issues, validating your product with target market customers gives your company direct access to their wants and needs. Listening to your audience, empathizing with their situations, and meeting them where they’re at is essential for establishing a good relationship as a general rule. But this show of empathy is especially important during a crisis.
We’re still feeling the aftershocks of a near-global shutdown, including delays in manufacturing, shipping, and other essential areas of production. While circumstances mean your customers will probably be more understanding of delays related to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean you should let your product or company slip off their radar.
Gartner points out the value in offering an extension of the beta period for a select group of customers to engage them during unexpected product delays. In addition to reaping more of the recession-fighting benefits we’ve already talked about, it keeps people in your customer base feeling connected as you navigate the uncertainty alongside them.
The benefits of beta testing are indisputable, but bringing in those benefits can be frustrating and tedious without empowering best practices and time-saving tools. Centercode gives you the best of both worlds — a comprehensive customer testing platform built on best practices, learned from decades of testing wildly successful products. See how Centercode’s solutions bring out beta’s good stuff with less of the bad stuff.