By: Hamish Sherlock, Director of Solution Consulting at Applause
Most digital experiences today, such as online shopping or streaming services, are simple and intuitive. Many of us, though, still consider online banking to be complex and laborious. To overcome this perception, banks and other financial institutions therefore need to find ways to minimize any friction that occurs during the customer journey. Perhaps the best way to achieve this, and to improve the performance of the mobile apps, chat bots, and smart assistants they use, is to put their testing in the hands of those with the greatest experience of that journey – the customers themselves.
Proper planning and testing
In common with most industries, the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation initiatives of financial institutions everywhere. Now, with the majority of transactions and customer interactions being made online or via mobile, it’s imperative that these institutions can deliver services which cater for the needs of customers increasingly dependent on digital channels. Indeed, the loyalty of those customers can often depend on it. Recent research found that companies with strong omnichannel engagement strategies retain on average 89 percent of their customers. In contrast, companies with weak omnichannel engagement retain only 33 percent.
Of course, developing that level of engagement doesn’t happen overnight; it requires proper planning and testing. Indeed, testing is vital in providing a company with insights into how its customers interact with its products. It’s important, for example, to identify any gaps in experiences in the different channels a customer might use, and to ensure content is properly localized for different geographical markets, with accurate language dialect and awareness of any local customs that may impact the customer experience. It’s important, too, to consider the different ways in which different customer tiers – high-value customers, new customers, or customers with minimal requirements – use and experience the application.
It’s here, then, that a crowd testing approach can prove most beneficial. After all, who better to testan application’s features, functions, and nuances than the people for whom it is ultimately designed.
There are other areas to consider as well, such as digital inclusion. The pandemic led to an increased awareness of the need for greater digital accessibility. Subsequently, businesses are building inclusive experiences into their digital products. People with disabilities play a crucial role in usability testing and the gathering of user feedback to help improve digital experiences for everyone’s benefit.
Augmenting internal testing resources
Many financial service providers, especially smaller, emergent fintech companies, will have limited QA and testing resources. But, by tapping into teams of diverse, skilled testers, these companies are able to augment their internal QA efforts and improve their user experiences.
Tailored to a company’s specific needs, these vetted testers can interact with its software products under real-world conditions, across the relevant devices and locations, and quickly identify any high-impact bugs and complex process that might exist across different digital channels and interactions with customer service agents. They can also spot any bias or other deficiencies inherent in services powered by AI.
Using a combination of exploratory testing to discover issues arising from unexpected usage patterns and real-world conditions, and structured testing to validate that core features work as intended, the first-hand experiences and feedback of these testers can be incorporated directly into a company’s product testing and development processes. This feedback, all of which stems from a real user’s real-world experience of an application, can be invaluable in speeding up testing processes, and streamlining an integrated customer journey into an intuitive user journey. And, if required, a suitably large and diverse testing community can allow an application to be tested in any country, in any language, and on any region-specific device to ensure all its features are localized.
What’s more, by removing the QA bottleneck, it allows those companies without adequate internal testing resources to roll out new applications and features faster than ever before.
Putting the customer first
As with their online shopping and streaming services, consumers today want an easy, streamlined digital experience from the financial institutions they deal with. Whether it’s insurance, savings, or current accounts, they want to be able to access different financial products, on any device, at any time, wherever they are, without friction.
The only way to ensure digital banking works for real customers is to test the customer journey with real people. By tapping into a global community of digital experts to address customer needs and identify bugs, biases, and potential flaws, the crowd testing approach allows financial institutions to reduce testing costs, release faster, ensure digital accessibility and create frictionless experiences for more satisfied and, importantly, more loyal customers.
Financial services companies are developing a new generation of banking and payment products built around the customer experience. By employing real people in real-world environments, crowd testing has a vital role to play inputting the customer first.