Customer Validation Overview

Given today's increasingly complex and competitive technology landscape, it's become both imperative and progressively more difficult to consistently deliver products that meet the high quality, frictionless experience, and evolving interoperability demands of your customers. Achieving these goals increases your profitability and strengthens your market position. Failing to do so gives your competitors the edge they need to seize those opportunities for themselves.

In order to ensure a successful product release, it's vital to strategically engage real customers continuously. Customer Validation is the discipline within PLM that accomplishes this through highly structured Alpha, Beta, and Field Testing. These methodologies test your entire product through diverse environments and users in order to evaluate and improve their stability, satisfaction, and adoption.

Customer Validation Methodologies

Customer Validation is a series of phase-gated, customer-facing product tests that collectively provide comprehensive coverage of product quality, interoperability, and UX throughout the final stages of development. Each test type leverages a unique audience and strategy to evaluate your product in order to generate the recommendations necessary to ensure a successful release.

Alpha Tests / Evaluate Product Quality

Alpha Tests leverage customers and employees to discover defects, user experience issues, critical feature gaps, and in-the-wild interoperability problems. Beyond early real-world customer engagement, Alpha Testing offers a structured results-oriented approach for dogfooding with staff in order to enhance internal alignment and investment in the product's success across an entire organization. Alpha Tests may consist of multiple cycles with results focused on stability, performance, and reliability.

20+ Testers 2+ Weeks 60-80% Release Ready Bug Hunt

Beta Tests / Evaluate Customer Satisfaction

Beta Tests guide a group of targeted representative customers through the entire product experience. Throughout this stage, testers will provide detailed qualitative feedback through a variety of methods including both experiential (e.g. bug reports, suggestions, discussions) and directed (e.g tasks, surveys). Beta Testing results provide evidence-based recommendations focused on assessing and improving feature-level customer acceptance, user experience, product quality, and interoperability.

50+ Testers 4+ Weeks 80-90% Release Ready Guided Evaluation

Field Tests / Evaluate Feature Adoption

Field Tests focus on natural contextual usage of the product and collect ongoing qualitative and quantitative customer feedback and data from larger samples over extended periods. Field Tests typically employ diary studies to capture user behaviors and attitudes and discover longitudinal trends in feature adoption. These tests provide the telematics necessary for trend analysis and for seeding machine learning to enhance the product and associated algorithms.

100+ Testers 6+ Weeks Release Candidate Natural Usage

Customer Validation ROI

Customer Validation provides the insight you need to build higher quality, more successful products. While a successful Customer Validation program can benefit nearly every organization within your company, the following illustrates some of the most tangible benefits.

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Customer Validation Challenges

Project Design and Scoping

An effective customer test requires a detailed strategy based a firm understanding of achievable objectives, schedule, budget, panel size and target, messaging, and incentive plan.

Persistent User Engagement

Typical tester participation rates for unstructured tests range from 20-30%, making it difficult, time consuming, and expensive to collect meaningful feedback and actionable insight.

Allocating Qualified Resources

Without qualified and/or dedicated staff required to run a robust Customer Validation program, test management becomes a secondary priority to overloaded resources.

Collecting Useful Feedback

Customer Validation feedback needs to be detailed, relevant, and include the appropriate context if it's going to accurately influence critical product decisions.

Recruiting Ideal Testers

Every product has a target market, it can be incredibly difficult to attract enough enthusiastic strangers from that market to participate in their tests and provide useful feedback.

Deriving Actionable Recommendations

A successful customer test should help direct the future of a product, but turning the vast quantities of diverse data into actionable recommendations is a difficult process.

How Centercode Helps

Customer Validation is our core competency. Through more than a decade of experience and thousands of successful tests, we've developed a complete portfolio of offerings to help companies maximize this critical discipline.

An effective customer testing program requires three elements: people to participate in and manage your tests, processes to collect and evaluate the results, and a platform to enable and scale it. Regardless of where you stand today, our framework, platform, services, and testers provide everything you need to engage your customers and produce far better products.

Centercode has helped hundreds of companies with their CV programs. Whether you need to outsource your program entirely, build it completely in-house, or something in between, we can craft a package to suit your needs.

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