With digital business opportunities and consumer expectations changing, all companies, especially consumer-facing enterprises need to understand the customer journey from discovery to action to feedback and finally, support.
An effective customer-centric strategy should understand the needs of customers - and therefore encompass both intrinsic and latent characteristics, as well as tangible and functional traits. While elements such as ease of access, use and navigation are vital, intrinsic human behavioural elements, such as cultural fit, psychology and emotions, also need to be addressed from a customer experience perspective.
Here's a potential approach to customer experience testing.
- Live the customer journey.
Customer experience architects help create the customer journey map and end-user personas, as a step towards defining the customer experience testing strategy. End-user personas will differ within and across segments based on customer intent, which can range from acquiring information, to conducting a financial transaction or making an online purchase. The customer intent and journey map will enable understanding for prioritising the different testing needs - functional, performance, security, usability, etc. - within the overall customer experience test plan.
- Assess the maturity level.
A customer experience strategy must begin by assessing the maturity of the business against a customer-centric maturity model. This will provide insights into the alignment of customer experience with the business vision, and the level of interaction between various organisational stakeholders. This assessment will also help understand the current state of customer experience measures, tools and technologies used, and build a cross-departmental synergy needed to pursue the strategy.
- Execute the strategy.
In addition to testing during the product development lifecycle, digital organisations need to inculcate post-production QA as part of their extended test lifecycles. This will include periodic interventions through an effective mix of crowd testing, social sentiment analysis, ticket analysis, non-functional requirements testing, and so on, to identify potential defects in production and better understand end-user needs in order to drive future enhancements and new product ideas. Customer experience architects will help define the customer experience testing strategy by answering the "which," "when," "where," and "how" of crowd-testing, A/B testing, social analytics, etc.
Ultimately, today's digital organisations need to understand and appreciate that customer experience testing is - and will always be - a continuous journey. Customer experience architects will emerge to focus on customer interactions within and across channels, and across the multiple touch-points between customers and digital channels. These professionals will deliver an analysis of these transactions and post-purchase behaviour. As the digital world evolves with the advent of new channels, devices and options, so does customer experience.
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