Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 3

“The Worst Question a Service Rep can ask”

Repeat contacts are the single biggest driver of customer effort.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is used to help assess performance. CCompanies regularly boast FCR rates of 70-8-% or higher. But when you ask customers how well companies are doing, you get a completely different answer (about 40% resolution in the first contact)

So, it turns out that the concept of FCR fails to account for the host of other related issues that cause customers to call back.

Implicit issues transcend the original customer-stated need. These repeat contacts happen fir two main reasons-

Adjacent Issues – downstream issues that might seem unrelated at first, but are ultimately connected to the main issue.

Experience Issues – emotional triggers that cause a customer to second-guess the answer given, or double check to see if another answer exists.

Going Beyond First Contact Resolution

Next issue Avoidance – Companies need to arm reps with shareper diagnostic skills and tools that can help them “forward-resolve” the next likely customer issue.

Companies trying to improve next issue avoidance (not just FCR) should track callbacks- any repeat contact by the customer, within a specified time period.

Rules – to balance the simplicity of forward resolution with effectiveness and avoiding confusion that forward resolution of adjacent issues might create-

Rule #1: Down One, Not Two – Trying to forward-resolve more than one step at a time might overwhelm the customer. Stick to one – only the immediate adjacent issue.

Rule #2: Pick Winners – Adjacent issues have to occur at least 20% of the time to qualify for forward resolution.

Rule #3: Don’t forward-resolve complex issues on the phone – For more complex issues, instead of confusing customers trying to explain over a phone call, follow up over a simple e-mail with details.

Measuring Next Issue Avoidance

Simple Metric – Track repeat calls from any customer within a seven-day period.

Points to Remember:

  • Don’t just solve the current issue, head off the next issue.
  • Measure callbacks, not just first contact resolution (FCR). The best companies also assess whether the rep solved the stated customer issue, as well as forward-resolved adjacent and experience-related follow-up issues.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 2

“Why your customers don’t want to talk to you”

  • 58% of call volume comes from customers who were on your website first, but still ended up having to call.
  • Customers who attempt to self-serve but are forced to pick up the phone are 10 % more disloyal than the ones who were able to resolve their issue on the portal of their choice.
  • The challenge is not getting the customers to self-serve , but to avoid channel-switching from self-service to phone call.
  • Companies believe that their customers want some kind of personal relationship with them. But the reality is that the customers already value the web as much if not more than the phone!

Self service places the customer in control, particularly when information that is confidential or potentially embarrassing might be exchanged.

The balance in favor of phone service even on the older age groups is far close to 60:40, rather than 90:10 or 80:20 ratio as many of us would have guessed. So, even customers who are the last to adopt self-service are much further along than most of us would have imagined.

The Channel Stickiness Opportunity

When it comes to how information is presented on the web, simplicity matters a lot.

It all starts with a simple question.

Examining three big channel-switching categories and ways to overcome those:

Category #1: Customers Couldn’t Find the Information they needed

Too many options put in front of customers exacerbate the channel-switching problems.

Customers are best-served by being directed to the lowest-effort channel and options to resolve their issue, even if that channel would not have been their first choice.

Ways to guide customers-

Ways to guide customers

Category #2 The Customer found the Information, but it was unclear

When customers who are trying to solve a problem don’t understand what they’re reading on a web site, they click the “contact us” button and end up calling.

Make sure your website and the content makes sense to the people on the outside as much as on the inside of your company.

Gunning Fog Index

Introduced in the 1950s, it is a benchmark for language simplicity. The scoring represents the years of education a person would need to comprehend a piece of text.

Use an online version to calculate the index for content on your website http://gunning-fog-index.com/

Rules to improve your website-

Rule 1 – Simplify Language

Rule 2 – Eliminate null search results

Rule 3 – Chunk related information

Rule 4 – Avoid jargon

Rule 5 – Use active voice

Category #3 The Customer was simply looking for a phone number

For customers who visit the website just to obtain a phone number, there are some subtle things that can be done to productively engage them.

  • Feature prominent links to the most common questions asked.
  • Move the contact us from th etop to th ebottom right of the screen.
  • Add to your knowledge base with words lie “simple”, “step-by-step” and “tips” to engage the newbies.

However, it is far better to incentivise self-service than to overtly discourage live service usage, or trying to hide the phone number.

The key to mitigating channel switching is simplifying the self-service experience.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 1

The New Battleground for Customer Loyalty

Defining Loyalty

in three specific behaviors

  • Repurchase – Customers continue to buy from your company
  • Share of Wallet – Customers buy more from you over time
  • Advocacy – Customers say good things about your product

Perceived vs Actual Impact of Customer Service on Loyalty

Companies grossly underestimate the benefit of simply meeting customer expectations.

Companies massively overestimate the loyalty returns from exceeding customer expectations.

Delight is Expensive

Delight is Rare

Delight is a tough target to hit with any regularity. However, basic competence, professional service and getting the fundamentals right are easier to achieve – and they matter more than we believe.

Findings from the Survey conducted by the authors on 97,000 customers of varying domains –

Finding #1 – A strategy of Delight does not work

Finding #2 – Satisfaction is not a predictor of Loyalty

Finding #3 – Customer Service interactions tend to drive disloyalty, not loyalty

Finding #4 – the key to mitigating disloyalty is reducing customer effort

“If you are really serious about creating the loyalty outcomes that matter most to the performance of the customer service department and ultimately the success of your company, reducing customer effort must become the new centrepiece of your service strategy”

Wrong Loyalty Goal –> ‘You exceeded my expectations’

Correct Loyalty Goal –> ‘You made it easy’

The Four Principles of Low-Effort Service

  • Minimize channel switching by boosting the ‘stickiness’ of self-service channels, thereby keeping the customers from having to call in the first place.
  • When customers have to call – arm the reps to head off the potential for subsequent calls
  • Equip reps to succeed on the ’emotional’ side of the service interaction by using advanced experience engineering tactics.
  • Value the Quality of the experience over the speed and efficiency

Quotable Quotes

  • Loyalty is now primarily driven by a company’s interactions with its customers.
  • Customer loyalty is an ongoing relationship and the key, of course, is customer support.
  • Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are not the same, and are not even co-related!
  • Make things as easy as possible for your customers

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Introduction

This is my first time reading a book on this topic – or anything related to customer experience at all. So I did not know what to expect. What wow’ed me the most was the first story in the Introduction part of the book itself – i.e. the story of ‘Joshie – the stuffed girraffe’

The story is about Joshie – a stuffed giraffe that gets left behind in a hotel room by a little kid who is later distraught about losing his favorite pal. The hotel Ritz Carlton not only reaches out to the family and ensures the safe return of the giraffe home, but also adds a bunch of ‘extended vacation’ pictures of Joshie enjoying his extended stay lounging around the hotel pool, taking a golf cart ride, having a massage, making friends with other stuffed animals and even helping the staff by manning a security room – much to the delight of the little boy and his worried parents!

This story has now set the bar for customer service in all industries the world over! You can read this story of customer delight in various posts on the internet like here or here or read the blog post below –

Reading this story makes you wonder – How do I get my people to go above and beyond like that? Why can’t our company be known for that kind of delightful service?

Well, this Introduction also sets a beautiful tone and level-sets us for what lies ahead in the book!

I sure hope we reach the answers to these questions by the end 🙂

Happy Reading!

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’

I started the ‘Read Along’ section on my blog last year with my series on the book ‘Agile Testing’ – a much coveted book for all testers. It was a fun way to learn, get back to my reading and also share it with my readers!

2021 started with me finding myself in a new job, an exciting new role in a brand new domain! So, I am taking the Read Along series forward this year by beginning a new book that not only is relevant to my current role and is a recommended read for the ‘Customers for Life (C4L)’ team that I am a part of, but is also super relevant to every software team working on developing software that not only satisfies but wows their customers!

The book is “The Effortless Experience” by – Mathhew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick Delsi

I will be reading the book and will post about learnings, things to remember & quotable quotes from each chapter as I progress. This is to hold myself accountable, as well as to help people looking for good reads or learnings. Hope this helps you. Have you read this book? Do share your thoughts & learnings too!

Here is a link to get your own copy if you would like to read along-

Here are the Chapter-wise posts on the book

Hope this series provides a useful overview and a fun learning experience for the readers!

Cheers

Nishi

Ways to Generate Quick Test Ideas

As testers, we look at everything with a critical eye. As soon as something comes up for testing, our instinct is to get down to examining it and looking for problem areas. After getting a written test script, a new tester would be tempted to begin executing scripted tests right away.

But stopping to gather our thoughts about possible test ideas first is a smarter approach that leads to better, more unbiased test coverage. However, we don’t always have a lot of time to imagine scenarios and different paths. Luckily, there is always some planning we can do beforehand.

In my article published at Gurock Testrail blog I shared some tips for generating test ideas in a time crunch.

Revisit classic test techniques

Our old, trusted test design techniques like boundary value analysis, equivalence class partitions, decision tables, and state flow diagrams are always a help when thinking about test cases. Although most of them are ingrained in the thought process of a tester and are mostly common sense, giving them a revisit, however informal, may still give us some more test ideas.

For example, creating a quick decision table for the interaction of two or more variables to observe the behavior of the system may reveal some unique combination that we might have missed. Or a quick boundary value analysis for the age field in our we form may show us a special case we might have missed.

Similarly, using state transition diagrams to draw end-to-end flows can help not only the testers, but also the developers in imagining the overall system flow and revealing problem areas.

Look at the history

The history of the project or the system can give us many insights into what we are dealing with, where the common defect clusters are, and the most problematic components.

If you are new to the test team, start by having a look at the defect tracking from past sprints or releases. You can then define and think of more test cases based on past defects and the components that have had the greatest number of defects.

If you’ve been part of the team for a while, you are probably intuitively bound to focus on these areas. But even then, it will help to consciously make an effort to list the most common types of bugs encountered and most problematic areas based on your experience. This will help not only you, but also your new and junior team members. Read full post->

Read More »

Four Ways to Keep Testing Skills Sharp During the Pandemic

The global pandemic has many of us wondering about our job situation. There is insecurity and fear in every industry, and many workers are already bearing the brunt of layoffs or pay cuts. If you are in the same boat, you might be thinking about a career move soon enough.

But with most people working remotely, how do you prepare a skill set that is up to date for the testing industry? You need to take charge of your own training. In my article published at TestRail blog I discussed some tips to upskill yourself as a tester, now or anytime in the future.

1. Read

It sounds obvious, but it may not be so to everyone. There are hundreds of books available on all things testing, with more every day, so there’s sure to be something useful to you.

And in today’s day and age, reading does not only imply books. There are a number of blogs, community websites, and newsletters you can subscribe to for the latest articles and write-ups on various new technologies, tools, frameworks, and methods.

Take some time each day to read select articles that interest you and explore what new developments are happening in the industry. You must strive to learn things beyond what you are already doing and the technology that you are already using at work. If you can spare just 15 minutes a day to read your favorite journals, articles, or blogs, you will feel more a part of the industry beyond your own team and company.

2. Leverage online learning

There is no dearth of online courses or learning materials on any technology or tool you want to explore. There are numerous websites, forums, and YouTube channels that offer free content, step-by-step tutorial guides, and training related to software testing. You can start your learning journey with any one of them and continue to explore along the way.

Renowned industry leaders offer their expertise and knowledge in free or paid courses that you can attend online. If live training is not your jam, go ahead and find a self-paced video course. Some of them even offer you a completion certificate once you clear the quiz at the end. You can proudly display it on your LinkedIn or other professional profiles to showcase your skills to recruiters.

3. Connect and network

Connections and networking matter a lot in a job search. Even though in-person encounters aren’t possible right now, you can leverage the online avenues of connecting and networking like attending online free meetups, conferences, and webinars. There are many learning and engaging events that you can participate in to connect with other like-minded people. You can also get involved by helping organize these functions or starting your own group event or meetup. Read full article->

Read More »

4 Tips to Create a Simplified Test Plan for Your Agile Project

Planning is an integral part of initiating any project or activity, including software testing. Although formal test plans may seem outdated and unnecessary to most fast-paced agile teams that prioritize cutting down on documentation, it’s still a good idea to keep a pared-down test plan that can guide the testing effort throughout the project.

In my article published on TestRail blog, I talk about four useful tips to create a simplified test plan for your agile project.

1. Include the basics

A test plan can be as detailed as the team requires, but at the minimum, it must contain the context, timelines, and a brief overview of the testing activities expected to be performed in the project, release, or sprint.

Based on what level of test plan you are creating, begin with a basic heading, like schedule and timelines, testing activities and types of testing expected to be performed, people involved in testing, or any new hires or training required for the project or release.

2. Build off the project plan

Most of the test plan can be derived from the context set by the overall project plan, so give that a thorough read and get the details of the project lifecycle, expected delivery schedule, interaction points with other teams, etc.

Note any specifics that emerge, like shared resources with other teams, sync points for integration tests throughout the project’s lifecycle, or special types of testing needed, like performance, load or security testing.

3. Define a clear scope

Let’s say your project is a mobile application that needs to work on both Android and iOS. It would be beneficial to list all the environments and OS versions that need to be supported. Including them in the test plan ensures you set up the test environments early and allocate testing tasks across all of them. It also ensures that you are not bogged down by repeated testing on numerous test environments at the time of release. What is not defined in the initial test plan can automatically be considered out of scope.

Continue Reading ->

4. Use visual tools like mind maps

A simple Agile Test Plan using a Mind map

Read full article here

Continuous Testing in DevOps

Agile testers need to constantly rethink their processes and tooling in order to move toward faster and more reliable software delivery. The key there is to embrace the continuity. Continuous delivery is necessary for agile development, and that cannot happen without having continuity in testing practices, too.

In my article published on TestRail blog, I discuss the various aspects of Continuous Testing in DevOps-

Continuous testing

Continuous testing can be defined as a methodology focused on continuous quality and improvement. It can use a number of practices and tools to help do that.

Continuous testing encompasses the verification and validation of each piece of the software under development to ensure:

  • Code quality — Are developers creating code of good quality?
  • Application correctness — Are developers creating the correct features?
  • Place in the pipeline — Can the application code flow through the pipeline and across environments and specified tests successfully and easily?
  • A good customer experience — Are users seeing value in the delivered application?

Continuous testing is the way toward continuous delivery. Teams that struggle with continuously delivering on time or with high quality often find the solution to their problems by setting up good continuous testing practices.

Read the full article for some tips to improve your continuous testing framework and help your DevOps succeed, like-
  • Ensure test automation is the best fit
  • Leverage automation benefits in all aspects
  • Select the right tools
  • The Typical Pipeline & what it requires

Continue Reading ->

Agile teams must strive for continuous improvement of their continuous testing strategy. If they’re successful, they can reduce their release times from months or years to weeks or days (or even hours!). By adopting the correct practices and embracing the spirit of continuous learning and improvement, we can help our testers to become champions of agile.

<Image Credits – manufacturingchemist.com>

My Contribution to the eBook ’21st Century Skills for Software Testers’

I am proud to announce another one of my contributions made its way to the eBook titled ‘21st Century Skills for Software Testers‘. This initiative was started by Emna Ayadi and Ard Kramer asking for contributions from various testers on their thoughts about the essential pivotal skill sets that benefit software testers.

🚀 This bilingual book made by software testers is all about:
How we apply 21st-century skills:
🔸 Critical thinking
🔹 Communication
🔸 Collaboration
🔹 Creativity
and also how we are going to use these skills in the future.

#21stskills4testers

This was a great initiative to bring together thoughts of many great testers from around the globe. There are some great pieces featured and a number of things to learn. I am super excited to feature in not one but Two sections in there –

Check out what I wrote in the First section of ‘Critical Thinking’ – Section 1.1.15 ‘Stories of Testers from the Present’ and Section 1.2.8 ‘Imaginations and Thoughts of Testers’

Find the eBook here -> https://leanpub.com/_21stskills4testers And you can download the book for free (fill out 0 dollars)

Glad to be featured along with so many awesome people from around the globe!

I am grateful for the opportunity and always welcome more such chances to contribute my thoughts for the betterment of the testing community!

Cheers

Nishi