How to deliver excellent customer experiences

Posted by bugfinders on Thursday 9 February 2017

It’s not fair, is it?

You work as hard as Amazon, eBay and Net-A-Porter, the quality of your service is as good, your products just as deserving of people’s money. But they’ve got one advantage that you don’t, one that derives from their position as huge, international corporate entities and yours as a medium-sized company with dreams of making it big in eCommerce.

They also have all of the trappings that allow them to sail pristinely across the eCommerce waters.  That is to say, they all have large internal software testing teams of 60+ professional testers, and you don’t.

Any eCommerce giant will maintain a test team of at least this size and many large companies whose eCommerce sites do not represent their only buying channel do as well. A quick LinkedIn search for Amazon, for example, shows that they maintain a team of well over 250 testers (and at page 25 we stopped counting).

The fact that they invest so heavily in testing is one of the reasons that these companies have remained dominant in the world of eCommerce. By maintaining the capacity to conduct thorough, rigorous testing across the devices, browsers and operating systems used by their customers, eCommerce giants have been able to increase conversions on their sites and apps, while further improving their formidable reputations.

Even Easyjet run a test team of well over 60, which is, of course, expensive. The expected spend for a team of the size we have been discussing is approximately £3m a year, taking into account salaries, training and on-costs. You could opt for a smaller in-house team, but what you’d lose in size you’d also lose in effectiveness – your device coverage would shrink while the workload of your testers would increase, enlarging the risk of business-critical issues & conversion blockers being missed.

So how can you carve out a bigger slice of the marketplace for yourself when a large in-house test team is (for the time being, at least) beyond your grasp? Wasn’t the internet supposed to be a great leveller, enabling any company with enough passion and talent the opportunity to connect with their customers and thrive, no matter how small?

The good news is that the internet has now levelled the playing field in software testing, too. The last couple of years have seen the mercurial rise of Crowdsourced Software Testing, a model in which the talents of professional testers from all over the world are drawn on to exhaustively test sites and apps in very short spaces of time.

Crowdsourcing was made for companies with testing budgets smaller than Google or Facebook. Because Crowdsourced testers are paid per bug they find, rather than for the time they spend testing, the costs are much lower than maintaining an in-house team.

But in spite of its lower costs, it is as effective (if not more) at driving out issues as the traditional large team model. Because Crowdsourced Testing communities number thousands of testers worldwide, hundreds can be simultaneously deployed to test a single application, meaning that coverage of devices, browsers and operating systems is vast.

The testing produced by the Crowdsourced model tends to be very effective too, because testers compete amongst themselves to find the most valuable issues (the ones that are most important to you), meaning that every last critical issue is found.

With the rise of Crowdsourced Testing, every company, not just the big ones, has the chance to produce high-quality software for its customers. You don’t have to be an eCommerce giant to deliver customer experience like one.