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Economic turbulence, inflation, supply chain issues, and new COVID-19 variants are just a few of the challenges impacting software teams as they adapt to make their companies more resilient. In order to navigate these compounding difficulties, CIOs and CTOs are prioritizing digital transformations and the customer experience so they can retain users and quickly deliver new products. Traditionally treated as two separate goals, more technology leaders are recognizing that digital transformations must be built to serve consumer needs, even in “sticky” industries like enterprise technology, healthcare, and financial services. Enter quality engineering, which connects agile software development to the customer experience. 

Quality is Key to Customer Retention

Quality engineering relies on a powerful combination of data-driven test automation and manual testing to shift testing to the left and ensure a delightful user experience. With the proliferation of digital-first experiences, consumers are increasingly able to shift between brands with the click of a button, placing a premium on high-quality customer experiences.  

Multi-Device, Multi-Browser User Journeys Dominate

An overwhelming majority (73%)  of consumers engage with brands on multiple channels as they make a purchase, including email, desktop and mobile websites, and mobile applications. Under the traditional model of testing, which was siloed into a single stage in the software development process, assuring quality across each of these channels was a bottleneck. But with digital transformations like DevOps moving to the top of CIOs and CEOs priority list, the old way of QA is downright impossible. 

To build relationships with potential and returning customers at every touchpoint, quality engineering is embracing automated tests that help cover all aspects of the customer journey. Cross browser tests ensure that users have a positive experience on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or even Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, while mobile web testing keeps consumers engaged when they’re shopping on their phones. Though often too difficult to test with manual testing or code-heavy testing frameworks, the next generation of test automation platforms are making it possible to check email for confidence at every customer touchpoint. When demand for consistent, quality experiences across all channels is at an all-time high, quality engineering makes it possible for teams to expand testing without slowing down. 

Customization Creates Loyalty

Shutdowns in 2020 blurred the lines between online and personal interactions, imbuing customer relationships with a new sense of human connection. Though consumers are accustomed to - and even expect - interacting with brands via email, chat bots, and automated responses, they also gravitate towards experiences that foster a sense of connection. Personalization is bridging that gap between in-person purchases and online, digital-first experiences. According to sales and marketing technology giant Salesforce, 66% of consumers expect businesses to understand their unique needs, yet the same proportion say brands treat customers like just a number. 

The challenge is that personalization leads to more user journeys, which rapidly increases the demands on testing teams. Different user interfaces, permissions, and functionalities all need to be tested so that every customer has a personalized, high-quality experience that builds loyalty. For a company like FineTune, quality engineering was critical for executing a testing strategy that covered unique user journeys for the students, teachers, and administrators that rely on their online assessment platform. Automated regression testing enabled Head of Quality Jay Trommer and his team to shift time away from routine testing to focus on high-impact manual testing that addressed edge cases and particularly nuanced user interactions. As a result, FineTune was able to test the entire exam process for both teachers and students - embedding quality throughout these highly personalized user journeys. 

Inclusivity is Expected - and Demanded

One billion people worldwide are living with some form of disability, many of whom have different accessibility needs for digital experiences. More than ever, consumers are advocating for better online accessibility with their wallets: over 2,500 accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2020 alone in the United States, and 38.6% of companies say that customers specifically mentioned accessibility as a reason for their purchase. Accessible digital experiences are being actively sought out by consumers around the world, a trend that will only grow as more industries embrace a digital-first approach. 

With quality engineering, software development teams prioritize functional and non-functional quality, including accessibility. Though most organizations are managing accessibility issues through quarterly or annual audits, increased demand for inclusive digital experiences is pushing customer-centric businesses to adopt more proactive measures. Automated accessibility checks make it possible for quality teams to shift non-functional testing to the left so that accessibility issues can be resolved well before new features are customer-facing. This ensures that every consumer has a positive experience, converting them from prospective users to repeat customers. 

Customer Loyalty is for Sale. Quality Buys It for the Long-Term

The proliferation of digital-first experiences is both an opportunity and a risk for every company. Consumers can - and will - quickly switch between banks, healthcare providers, retail companies, and apps in order to find those that provide the best experience. As technology leaders re-prioritize their investments and focus on building more resilient organizations, quality engineering is a proven way to ensure that customers keep coming back, no matter what the competition does. 

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