19 July, 2014

Supportability Experience & Customer Touchpoints Testing

This article was originally published on passbrains blog HERE.

eCommerce industry sector is burgeoning in India with new players starting shop every now and then. But what is it that sets Flipkart, India’s largest online retailer, apart? Flipkart identified 2 key problems in the eCommerce world – delayed delivery and poor customer service. They fixed these problems and made online shopping a delightful and memorable experience for their customers. There is no surprise why Flipkart is being touted as a competitor of Amazon.

Applying this analogy to the testing world, while testing a product, more often than not, testers are focused on which flow the user executes or how the user interface looks. What goes missing is the level of attention and detail to support processes like call verifications, email communication, online chat, service request processes and other services. Does a user receive a welcome email upon joining? Does he get a verification call from the company? Do they call the user if his need is not addressed beyond a certain time? How is a complaint from a user handled? This describes the supportability experience of the product.

Customer Touchpoints

A customer touchpoint describes the interface of a product/service with customers/users before, during and after a transaction (adapted from Wikipedia). Several times, a user is not just unhappy with the product/service, but customer touchpoints too. As a user, think of yourself. How many times did you stop yourself from visiting that supermarket whose attendant didn’t pay attention to your questions? How did you feel when you were the first to enter a pharmacy, yet the pharmacist served customers who came after you? Supportability factors go a long way in defining customer touchpoints and how they feel about the product and the organization in general.

Supportability Factors

What are the factors creating product loyalty? Are they in the product itself? Price? Color? Quality? Quantity? Others? Great user experience is a sum total of all the above listed aspects including supportability factors listed below:
• Calls / SMSes
• Email
• Chat
• Service Requests
• Feedback
• Field Visits

If a user calls customer care and is put on hold for 30 minutes, he would not like it. If he gets 20 messages a day on his phone after buying a product, he would be annoyed. If an email complaint from the user is never acknowledged or responded to, he would never complain again to the organization. He would complain in public over the internet by writing his story of poor experience, with a wider reach and visibility and hence, discouraging other users to buy the same product/service.

If an organization provides a chat channel but a support personnel is not available to support customers, this damages the reputation of the organization. From time to time, users might raise service requests (or tickets) to solve problems on the products they are using. If the tier1 and tier2 analysts don’t know anything about the service requests they handle, it becomes a showdown of sorts. How are user feedbacks handled also lends credibility to the organizations’ care model for the users. When a field service technician from the organization visits the user’s site to fix the product or replace it, user’s experience with the technician goes a long way in defining whether the user will remain loyal or not.

How to measure Customer Touchpoints?

Supportability factors are the key to determine whether customer touchpoints are good or bad, if the products are making a good impact or not or if the customers/users are sticking around or saying goodbye. Products have to be tested for supportability factors to measure users’ experience at several touchpoints. How do testers test for it? There is a way.
Testers can come up with a survey questionnaire that asks questions about different support factors. Let’s take an example of the activation process for a new network connection on a cell phone. User needs to call the call center, provide details to them and get the network activated which usually takes up to 24 hours in India. We could come up with a list of questions like:

Supportability Rating Matrix

These questions might seem unrelated to testing but they are testing related in reality, because if we don’t test the processes in the organization that serve products and product users, excellent products might fade away in a short time period. Apple became the Apple it is today because of the time and money they spent on every little detail associated with the product – be it the product itself or the packaging, the color of the product, support experience and so on. It is becoming increasingly important to create good customer touchpoints because users are no longer looking just for products that serve their needs, but also for engaging experiences while using the product.

What customer touchpoints have you had trouble with? Share your experiences.

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