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No matter the sector or industry your business is in, odds are the competition is fierce. Thanks to record investment across the board in 2020, capital has rushed into companies disrupting everything from education to renewable energy to gaming. As more disruptors enter categories across the B2B and B2C ranges, incumbent organizations need to balance quality and rapid innovation in order to remain competitive. One crucial measure of business health: the rate of repeat or returning customers. 

When making the case for investment, whether it’s new tools, new people, or new skills, quality leaders should consider how their team impacts these critical users. For the vast majority of businesses, returning customers generate the most revenue, are key allies in reaching new audiences, and contribute to the product roadmap. As such, every executive places an enormous amount of value on growing repeat customers. Though most customers likely wouldn’t label their reasons for returning as “quality,” quality engineering plays a significant role in the factors that motivate users to return to certain products, such as the user experience in-product and during the purchase process, how well the product works, and how often new features or products are introduced. 

Quality is the Foundation of Loyalty

Marketing teams have long recognized the value of an emotional connection between customers and brand loyalty. But once a consumer has entered an organization’s ecosystem through a purchase, the responsibility for maintaining an emotional connection shifts in-part to the product team. Consider the last time you used a frustrating product: maybe it was poorly designed, lacked an intuitive interface, or simply didn’t work. Chances are, you didn’t feel valued as a user, even if you felt a connection to the product or company prior to purchase. 

No matter how much goodwill has been built, a poor user experience can destroy that connection in a matter of minutes. In order to build a loyal customer relationship, a product and the digital infrastructure surrounding it need to deliver and enforce the mission that drives your company and your customers. As the foundation for a positive user experience, quality plays a fundamental role that quality managers should emphasize as they expand and improve their quality strategy.

How Quality Impacts B2C Industries

Customer acquisition costs (CAC) have increased by more than 60 percent for consumer-facing companies since 2013. Not only doesn’t this limit the effectiveness of paid marketing efforts, but it also heightens the pressure to recoup the cost of connecting with a customer. Luckily, many B2C companies still have relatively low CAC, such as Retail ($10) and Consumer Goods ($22). 

But these seemingly low costs are offset by an increasingly competitive landscape: 76 percent of consumers say it’s easier than ever to leave a brand should they have a subpar experience. If customers can just as easily find a similar product by searching on Amazon, a quality customer experience is essential to building a sticky bond with consumers that maximizes lifetime value. 

As the keepers of quality throughout the entire user journey, quality engineering has a significant role to play in maintaining a competitive user experience. First, there’s the all important checkout process. Since the pandemic shifted almost all shopping online, the rate of “ghost carts,” full digital shopping carts abandoned by users before checkout jumped to an eye-popping 94.4 percent. Many of these carts are dropped during the checkout process, which can be clunky and frustrating, especially on mobile devices. As more consumer-facing compete with Amazon’s single-click checkout experience, quality teams are the first to ensure that the checkout process is as seamless as possible so that customers return to your site the next time they make a purchase. 

But even if a customer does abandon their cart, quality is once again there to re-ignite the buying process. Since most brands begin the checkout process with email sign-in, it’s easy to reach out to consumers and nudge them to complete their purchase. Historically, QA would have had a hard time ensuring quality for email communications, but advancements in test automation are enabling quality teams to re-define end-to-end testing to support email delivery. Testers can verify email addresses, validate email content, and even test PDF attachments to build seamless experiences that continue to re-engage customers. 

How Quality Impacts B2B Industries

Similarly, customer acquisition costs (CAC) have increased for enterprise companies, growing by nearly 70 percent since 2013. One of the hardest hit by cost increases? Software, which has a CAC of $395 and has simultaneously been hit by the emergence of the Software-as-a-Service model that makes it easier than ever for enterprise customers to switch providers. To manage these costly, competitive market conditions, SaaS companies are accelerating product velocity to grow the value of established customers, appeal to a growing customer base, and build market share. 

For enterprise SaaS companies looking to build or maintain an edge in their market, rapid product velocity can be the difference between introducing an innovative product or being considered a copycat. Quality is essential as user experience expectations set by consumer-facing companies creep into the enterprise space. Even cutting-edge technologies like AI or machine learning need to prioritize functionality and usability in order to make an impact on customer loyalty. Being able to quickly create and execute a testing strategy, even for new products, is essential for quality teams contributing to customer retention in enterprise SaaS companies. 

Traditionally, quickly adapting and iterating a testing strategy has been hindered by the fragility of test automation frameworks, which cannot adapt to rapidly changing products or require entirely new tests for a fresh product. Testing teams are forced to spend valuable hours on test maintenance or simply rely on manual testing. For enterprise SaaS companies seeking a competitive edge, this delay can undermine customer loyalty as their business needs evolve beyond the capabilities of your product. Quality leaders can help their organizations innovate in tandem with their most loyal customers without sacrificing a quality experience. 

Rethinking Quality in a Loyalty-Driven World

The lines between B2C and B2B have blurred as expectations for the user experience have heightened across both sides of the spectrum. In order to remain competitive, organizations need to invest in their most valuable and loyal customers. By ensuring a seamless experience and rapid innovation, quality leaders can directly connect their efforts to improving customer retention and make their case for increased investment in quality.