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Bad experiences are driving customers away faster than businesses realize: PwC’s Future of UX report reveals that 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience. Despite this, many businesses are still failing to build the products that customers want. Well-intended adages like ‘fail fast,’ or ‘move fast and break things’ are leading businesses to skip out on doing thorough customer research. This is causing them to spend time, money, and resources on building products that customers don’t want or need.
Debbie Levitt, chief experience officer at Delta, a full-service customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) consultancy, shared how quality engineers can incorporate the user experience into their software testing strategies to save their organizations time and money at mabl Experience.
Understanding What Customers Actually Want
All too often, teams evaluate the customer experiences based on arbitrary key performance indicators (KPIs). For instance, many businesses equate the amount of time spent on a page with their users’ level of engagement. But this isn’t always a good metric: an organized, bullet-pointed list can mean that users find the information they’re looking for without having to waste time searching, or a streamlined shopping experience can result in a purchase even though a user has spent very little time on a page.
“Whether or not we invest time, money, or qualified professionals in our product’s design, there will be a design. We should make sure it’s a great match to customers’ definitions of quality and value,” says Levitt. “Remember the last time you used a system that frustrated you. Did you think: ‘How many sprints did this take?’ Probably not. You were probably wondering: ‘Who built this junk?’”
Levitt argues that businesses can address this problem by enabling CX, UX, and quality assurance (QA) teams to collaborate on finding out what customers actually want so that the entire organization can build better customer experiences.
Focusing Development Teams on User Needs
The costs of CX mistakes quickly add up. Levitt explains, “Teams say they’re agile while burning lots of money and time to learn very late in the game – sometimes weeks or months after release – that they’ve gone in the wrong direction.”
Working from guesses and assumptions is inefficient at best, and can lead to a completely useless product at worst. To avoid this, businesses should utilize CX and UX practitioners to make sure they are focusing on customer needs as early as possible when planning a project.
The core foundations of CX and UX practitioners are cognitive psychology and human behavior, and the main process that they use is User-Centered Design (UCD), also known as Human-Centered Design (HCD). The phases of UCD, as outlined below, are fluid and cyclical.
“We can build what a stakeholder tells us to build. But if it isn't based on great customer intelligence, the risks are high,” says Levitt. “Your company probably uses a lot of surveys to learn what customers want. But have you ever seen these surveys they send out? They're often highly flawed, and they ask people to guess if they would like an idea they haven't seen or predict what they may or may not buy in the future.”
Gathering better evidence to provide a better experience
To provide better customer experiences, businesses should prioritize being as evidence-based and data-driven as possible. The best way to get this evidence: observing users directly. Levitt explains, “Interviews are excellent when we ask the right questions the right way. But sometimes what people say and what people do aren't the same.”
In 2020, Delta CX conducted a live remote observational study designed to find out how online sellers list their items for sale on a well-known platform. They met people on Zoom and asked them to share their screen while they listed an item for sale.
The study revealed that certain fields on the page were essentially meaningless to users. Users didn’t know what the fields meant or what information they needed to properly fill out the form. In some cases, they were unsure whether certain fields were even necessary. Many users used workarounds, outside tools, cheat sheets, or browser plugins to successfully list their item. Without observing real user behavior, Levitt says, the team may never have realized how challenging the selling process was on the web platform.
“You’re unlikely to discover these types of details about behaviors, workarounds, and tasks through a survey,” says Levitt.
Applying CX and UX Principles to Agile Environments
Templates for Agile sprint goals are typically achievement-focused, not customer-focused. This can contribute to teams developing features that customers don’t want or need. Below, Levitt demonstrates how these goals can be designed to be more customer-centric.
In addition, businesses should prioritize task-oriented design, which focuses on creating solutions with new features, versus feature-oriented design, which creates features based on predetermined frameworks.
“When we're doing task-oriented design, we're not checking if users like a concept. We are learning who they are, how they do things now, and what their unmet needs are,” explains Levitt. This enables development teams to create product capabilities that meet real customer needs, enabling better experiences.
Customer-centricity requires development organizations to care more about the quality of the work being done. However, Levitt warns against businesses stretching UX designers thin and then complaining that they’re not agile. She suggests that the ideal team consists of a group of five UX and CX designers – three researchers, and two architects or designers. Partnering with quality engineering teams expands the capabilities of both software testing and UX teams to further focus development efforts on building features that users actually want.
Ultimately, businesses must let go of preconceived ideas of what they think is ‘good enough.’ Instead, they should integrate the user perspective throughout the software development lifecycle to ensure that products are designed to succeed in the market. Levitt says, “All the mindsets and ceremonies on the planet won't matter if we're not delivering products that are easy to learn, easy to use, and matching customers’ needs.”
Watch Debbie’s full mabl Experience session and explore other expert panels from the event here.