When you’re preparing to release a new product, confidentiality is central to keeping its details under wraps. This is especially true during Customer Validation testing, when you’re placing a real product in the hands of real customers – often before you want the world to know about it.
Nowadays the majority of companies recognize the immense value of running Alpha, Beta, and Field Tests, and advocate for customer-driven insight, but often there is still fear that testers will leak information that could compromise the product before it’s ready for launch. While in reality these leaks are very rare, educating your testers about NDA compliance is a key practice that goes a long way toward protecting your products and getting your tester community to care about confidentiality.
These best-practice tips will help you cultivate trustworthy testers you can rely on for customer insight and trust not to spill the beans about your pre-release product.
Present Your Expectations Upfront
Efforts to set up confidentiality standards begin before your test even opens. Your testers should complete a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) as a condition of participating in the test as a formal way of acknowledging that they understand their role in maintaining the secrecy of the project, the product, and the company. By asking your testers to read and sign the NDA right before the test begins, you’ll make it clear to them what is inappropriate to discuss outside of the project, and outline the consequences for breaches of the agreement. The goal here isn’t to scare participants, but to highlight the trust you’re placing in them and emphasize the importance of their role as part of the team.
Some NDAs will contain legal jargon that’s difficult for testers to understand. In this case, make sure your CV Team is up-to-speed with a layman’s understanding of the privacy agreement, and that they’re equipped to clarify any questions your testers may have about it. This ensures that everyone’s on the same page.
Give Your Testers an Outlet
Your testers are going to be excited to talk about your product – that’s a good thing! But it does make it a good idea to provide a built-in outlet for expressing their thoughts and opinions within the confines of your project so they aren’t tempted to discuss them publicly. The Centercode Platform, for example, incorporates feature requests, open discussions, up-voting, and private journals, in addition to the more standard bug reports and surveys, to capture all manner of customer feedback. The benefits of this approach are two-fold – your testers have a secure space to freely discuss your product, while your CV Team can leverage the feedback provided in these channels to deepen the insights and recommendations provided to stakeholders.
Offer Gentle Reminders
As important as it is to emphasize confidentiality before and during a test, it’s just as important to remind testers of their role in maintaining the secrecy of a project once the test ends. Some testers mistakenly believe that agreements expire after the test closes, but NDA terms vary between projects and companies – sometimes even lasting indefinitely.
Reminding your testers of the NDA terms as the test closes – and thanking them for both their participation and their compliance – is a good preventative measure for avoiding any misunderstandings. As we noted earlier, leaks during and after CV tests are relatively rare, but it doesn’t hurt to fold a kind and simple confidentiality reminder into the ‘Thank You’ email at the end of your test.
Choose Your Testers Wisely
In addition to these key tactics for preventing leaks during your Customer Validation test, the best way to ensure your testers understand the importance of confidentiality is by thoroughly screening applicants during recruitment. Potential testers who list other products they’ve tested, for example, are obviously not very good at keeping secrets, and their lack of discretion is more likely to put your pre-release product at risk. Nurturing a working understanding of confidentiality in your community and outlining what NDA compliance looks like from the very beginning of your project ensures that your testers are as committed to protecting your product as you are.
To learn more about the details of building confidentiality into each phase of your CV test, from writing privacy agreements to communicating your expectations to testers, watch our on-demand webinar, Top Secret Customer Testing!