From healthcare systems to banking applications and eCommerce (and everything in between if it is digital) the users of the software expect the system to work at every interaction, and on every possible platform and operating systems popular in the present market place. Yet, despite the requirement to cater to a digital experience that delight the consumers, in a research conducted by Gartner, it states that only 18% of brands and businesses deliver that desired world-class Customer Experience (CX) that is preferred by the customers.
Now a greater part of the gap between this desired expectation and the hard-core reality is that digital-businesses are considerably dependent on the quality of their software and applications, which most often do not perform as they should according to the customers.
Hence, in an age when digital transformation is so much dependent on delivering better quality software, testing has never been more critical as it is today.
Nevertheless, for the last decade and more, software testing has focused on verification- which implies does it work- rather than validation, that means, does it perform what the customers expect for enjoying a pleasurable customer journey?
Therefore, in modern times as businesses are increasingly becoming aware of using business growth technology and tools in their digital transformation journeys, it is important that testing applications must focus on answering the latter question for rapid business growth.
In other words, right from easy to use CRM applications to other business-related software platforms testing must pivot from simply checking that an application meets technical requirements to make sure that the same application delivers better user experience and therefore boost business outcomes in the long run.
Hence here is an idea as to how this can be done:
To do this the first thing that is extremely critical is to make the process of testing shift from a verification-driven activity to a continuous quality process, with the goal to perceive in totality how customer experience and business outcomes are affected by the technical behavior of the app, which is all about finding opportunities for improvement and predicting the business impact of those improvements on a continuous mode for rapid and consistent business growth.
Now, verification testing merely checks that the code in any application complies with a specification provided by the business, which is assumed to be a perfect one when it replicates how the users interact with and use the software.
Nevertheless, there is no way in finding out while testing software how a specification writer could know how users will react to every part of the application or capture instances that could impact customer experience. Moreover, even if there were means to do so, it would have made the software development painfully slow.
Hence by adopting this approach (that validation has been done as a result) is, in reality, a mirage, which has resulted in the CX being ignored from a software testing perspective that in the long run leads to customer churn.
Therefore, in the modern times, businesses must abandon the outdated approach of testing only whether the software works, and rather embrace a strategy that aids in evaluating the user perspective and delivers reliable insights to optimize their experiences.
This is because if you really care about your user’s experience with your website or app and if you are seriously concerned about business outcomes, you need to be testing your application from the “outside-in”, the way users do to truly evaluate the users experience with your services.
Moreover, a user-centric approach to testing of the software applications also ensures that bugs, user interface errors and performance issues are even identified and addressed long before the app is live and has the chance of creating a negative impact on the CX and potentially brand perception of the offerings.
Hence, as fast and reliable business websites and applications boost engagements, and drive encouraging business outcomes, making sure that these necessary objectives are met as it must be an essential part of modern software testing strategies of the present times.
Therefore, if businesses want to close the CX gap, brands need to rethink how they evaluate their applications and software and make validation testing as the foundation element of testing strategies in businesses, and for that organizations need to start testing the user experience and modernize their testing approach so that they can keep up with the pace of DevOps and continuous delivery, which is the most essential driver behind digital transformation today.
Now, historically businesses that carried out traditional validation testing have in-house teams of software testers with skilled manual exploratory testing potentialities, which help in evaluating performance, functionality and usability factors of the applications, even though it is not a transparent, qualitative or replicable workflow that is difficult to include within a continuous development process.
But then again manual exploration testing is not only expensive to scale, but it is also time-consuming and requires several skilled testers which is exactly why we need to transform validation testing and make it customer-driven as described below.
Customer-Driven Testing 101
Now, customer-driven testing as we discussed before, is a newfound approach that automates the traditional exploratory testing for speed and scalability.
Fundamentally speaking, this type of testing focuses more on the user experience rather than on the specification and so when model-based testing of applications are combined with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning), it helps in unlocking the ability to carry out customer-driven testing that enables businesses to test and monitor end-to-end digital user experience seamlessly by analyzing app and real-data to auto-generate and thereafter execute user journeys, and thereby provide robust coverage of the user experience as-well-as system performance and functionalities.
In customer-driven testing of business websites and applications you can use automated feedback loops that can aid in zooming in on problems and address them quickly, since once this process is in place the intelligent automation of this testing process can go even further and build a model itself by observing and understanding the system and assess production to clarify what that matters to the business.
Hence, unlike the mirage of verification validation testing which revolves around specifications customer-driven testing uses the actual customer journey of the consumers that drives the testing of the app.
This is because, in AI and ML assisted customer-driven testing the technology recommends the tests to execute, and thereafter learn incessantly and execute intelligent monitoring that can predict impacts on businesses and enable DevOps teams to wrap-up and fix issues before they even occur as cutting-edge technologies are the core component of this modern form of testing, even though there is another essential element that is needed for customer-driven testing, which is human intelligence as illustrated below.
The Human Factor
Well, customer-driven testing necessarily does not mean the death of human testers. This is because even though machines are brilliant in automating testing processes and thereafter correlate data, but unfortunately they are incapable of replicating the creative and ingenious part of app testing which involves interpreting data into actual human behavior and thereafter develop hypothesis about where the problems are going to be and so testers are still needed for providing hints and directions as machines are still incapable of replicating their experience and intuitions which is another most essential factor to guide the customer-driven testing processes.
Therefore, although automated analytics and test can provide an enormous volume of data about how users behave at the human-to-app interface, nevertheless it requires a human to understand why a person took that action and thereafter set the thresholds for errors and pull the levers that guide the algorithms and so customer-driven testing is only possible with human testers augmented by state-of-the-art technology that business use nowadays for creating world-class experience for the consumers of their offerings.
Digitalization is fast changing the ways businesses and customers interact with each other nowadays.
Therefore understanding and optimizing the customer experience that apps deliver on business goals are a mission-critical for these digital businesses and so practices that merely validates that the software works must retire or businesses will run the risk of lagging behind their competitors. Hence to close the customer experience gap, brands must look at the performance of their digital offerings through the eyes of the customer.
Since if it is an accepted fact that software runs the present world, then businesses must also need to make sure that it delights their customers, just like it does when you buy CRM to boost customer relationships rather than making your websites and app merely work but not provide that desired world-class Customer Experience (CX) that is preferred by the consumers of your offerings.