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March 8, 2016

According to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CEO N Chandrasekaran, digital is no more an option. It’s a default – that positively impacts customer experience. Customer delight is the result of this positive experience – an emotional, feel-good factor that results in affinity towards a product or brand. Simply put, when done right, digital invokes this positive emotion.

Given this reality, businesses, before finalizing digital designs, investments, and returns, must understand how customers (or the human brain) process this digital information. Most often, this understanding is driven by the conventional debate on whether the brain works in digital or analog mode. Digital design pundits have come up with theories on how the human brain processes signals, or even which parts of the brain rely on analog or digital signals. Until now, businesses have used these theories and conclusions as the basis for their digital designs.

But – and this applies if your business is to go with basic instincts – is there a simpler approach to digital? Steve Krug says, Dont make me think, in his classic on web usability in 2000, and his mantra still remains a solid foundation for building digital experiences.

Test outside your comfort zone

Ever wondered why children are so good at handling devices? From iPads and iPods to phones and play stations, children click on everything, explore every feature and quickly master even the most complex devices. In fact, thats how even many grown-ups use digital products they dont read user guides, they explore. Very unlike testers who first create test plans or test strategies when approaching a new device or application!

So, we are all born testers. But do we exhibit this child-like investigative behavior while wearing our tester hats? Sadly, no. In acquiring professional tester certifications, somewhere along the path, did we forget our exploratory skills? Are we focusing too much on defect detection, and too little on Assurance? Think about it. What if testers, instead of simply reporting defects, also suggested alternative ways to developers? Products could be so much better.

It is time to reincarnate ourselves in the assurance space, and focus not just on defects, but also on big-picture techniques and methods. Specifically, in this digital world, we must assure analog experiences for customers, and not simply business workflows or product functionality. For instance Fabian Hemmert, researcher and TED speaker, studies the role of the human body in interactions with mobile phones and explores new ways of making technology more human-friendly.

Businesses have no choice but to prioritize customer experience or simply get left behind. This necessitates the need to move away from traditional testing, and adopt Digital Assurance.

Heres a digital assurance framework that re-invents test strategy, design, and execution, by aligning them with the customer’s perspective of digital products:

Customer Experience Focused Test Strategy: Although Digital demands a testing taxonomy that encompasses numerous test types unit, system integration, mobile, cross-browser, and more – the overall testing strategy should be geared towards the end user’s experience. When evaluating or using digital products, end users do not care about the type of testing that was done or missed out. They want their product interfaces to be safe, functional, accurate, user-friendly, fast, and consistent across browsers and devices. Assuring all of this calls for the right combination of security, functional, usability, performance and compatibility tests. The assurance strategist (not just a tester), while developing test strategies for such scenarios, should apply a risk-based prioritization approach to this medley of testing techniques. At times, the strategy may involve testing the waters (prototype testing) before taking a deep dive (going live), to gauge the user acceptance quotient of a product before its release.

Test Design: When designing test cases, test architects must not be afraid to question functional design. In addition to test automation scripts, intuitiveness and curiosity are additional tools in the test architects arsenal. Innovation and out-of-the-box thinking need to be the hallmarks of test design.

Test Execution: Testers must apply diverse perspectives, and test with an inquisitive mindset, introducing fresh and unique ideas. Approaches such as crowd testing can be effective to ensure a mlange of testing stances, each bringing in its unique flavor.

In a world where ‘Customer is the King’, guaranteeing customer satisfaction is the only way to improve brand stickiness, loyalty, return traffic and word-of-the-mouth publicity. A customer-experience centric testing strategy for digital products is the game changer for businesses. Besides ensuring customer delight, it helps capture market share. So the next time you plan testing for digital, keep aside pre-conceived notions about the applications working and performance, bring out the child in you, and dont be afraid to pry and probe.

Jayashree Natarajan is the Global Head of TCS' Assurance Services Unit (ASU) since June 2016. Prior to this role, she was heading the global delivery and operations for ASU. She has an overall experience of 22+ years in the IT field and has been in the Assurance space for close to 15 years. Prior to her current role she has also served as the Process Excellence Head and Assurance Services Head for the Life Sciences & Healthcare Solution unit in TCS. Over the years, Jay has worked in various program management roles in multiple MNCs. She holds a Master's degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering with a specialization in Communication Systems from PSG College of Technology, India.


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