Avoid Process Bottlenecks During Product Validation

How do you quickly find the right product testers? When your trend research and concept testing is complete, it’s time to get real samples into the real world. This step doesn’t have to slow things way down.

If your company is struggling with a bottleneck when it comes time to test your new products, you’re not alone. On fast timelines, brands can struggle to balance tester accessibility with maximized feedback quality. When companies can’t quickly access the right product testers, it can result in quiet but serious compromises. These slippery slopes can threaten feedback timeliness and quality. Worse, the continuation of sub-optimal testing may not only rob your brand of valuable insights but also erode confidence in the testing program itself. This can result in less frequent testing or even abandoned programs. That’s a lot of critical feedback – that can impact your bottom line – left on the table.

Take for example a common scenario; a brand that has completed a business transformation process designed to increase speed-to-market. An anticipated benefit is increased product relevance which should generate more and happier customers. However, this effort to accelerate speed-to-market required tighter timelines, which made their traditional outreach for finding relevant testers too slow.

Fortunately, there are highly-efficient ways to connect with the right product testers during this critical point. Below, we will dive into where things begin to break down and the tools and tactics to solve those challenges.

Pitfalls of Product Testing Primarily with Friends, Family, and Coworkers

One approach to speeding up a slow tester recruitment process is leveraging the people already at your fingertips; friends, family, and coworkers. It makes sense at first – you have a good understanding of what they do, and you have their contact info. But it is important to understand the potential negative impacts of this approach before “speeding things up” this way.

Experience has shown that product testing with friends, family, and coworkers frequently results in slower response times; these individuals may take a more casual approach to product testing because they know you. Additionally, their familiarity with you or your brand can raise doubts about the honesty and accuracy of their feedback. Are they saying the product is great just to be nice? Are they going overboard with critical feedback to come across as more discerning? These nagging questions can jeopardize the quality of takeaways as well as company buy-in.

This is not to say a friend, family member, or coworker may not be an ideal tester. It is actually quite common to leverage individuals in your circle. Plus, your testing solution should be able to easily accommodate people you know. These can come in the form of “ideal target customer” coworkers or highly-experienced brand ambassadors. These individuals can and should be a portion of your testers for the appropriate testing. However, it’s often important to balance them with other testers from your market as well.

What’s Expected of Your Product Testers is Very Important

Product testing requires a different level of tester engagement than concept testing. A common concept test survey might require a respondent to complete around 10 to 30 questions. A common product test often requires multiple surveys, detailed testing logs, photo uploads, and more.

It’s obvious that when your physical sample is sent into the field, you need to be able to rely on your testers to keep up with feedback. What’s less obvious is how subtleties of test/tester fit can impact the effectiveness of your test. For example, does the “mountain climber” on your tester list do a big trip or two each year? Or is she scraping up in the alpine every minute she isn’t working? The latter can tell you what you need to know in a matter of days. The first tester might not have even had the chance to take the jacket out yet.

Just like your product development process itself, the more you know early on, the better your results can be.

Possible Technology Limitations

In many ways, the product assortments you offer to your customers are similar to your technology solution options. Some products are great for certain activities; others, not so much. This same principle holds true for product testing technologies. Here, the right features and benefits can make a sluggish and ineffective process fast and valuable.

Above, we looked at how the challenge of finding the right testers can lead to compromised timeliness and feedback quality. The other half of the equation is the technology itself; most importantly, the technology’s ability to accelerate tester selection. Again, the more you know early, the better your results can be.

A common pitfall of using the wrong technology is the additional process steps commonly required to find testers. Assuming your end goal is to have relevant and reliable testers complete the test, let’s look at two recruitment processes:

High-Touch, High-Risk Recruitment ProcessAccelerated and Informed Recruitment Process
1. Outreach to friends, family, and coworkers via text or email; manage communication1. Access a pre-existing product tester community
2. Seek additional testers through online surveys or partnerships, manage communication2. Search and browse testers according to bio, location and activity participation info
3. Ensure testers are relevant and reliable through continued communication3. Check tester reliability info
4. Select best-fitting product testers who appear to be the most reliable4. Select relevant and reliable testers

One of the biggest causes of the tester recruitment bottleneck is having to solve for uncertainty through manual communication. Simply put, if you don’t have the detailed tester information you need, you have to go get it. This is typically done through direct outreach requiring the management of numerous conversations along the way.

More complex approaches even involve surveys before you start testing.

Tools and Tactics for Finding the Right Testers Fast

A proven path to valuable, timely feedback is to know as much as you can about your testers right away. Having access to information beyond gender, location, and what category of store they shopped at recently is essential. To effectively accelerate your product tester recruitment, you’ll need optimized access and deep information.

The right product testers

Increase Product Tester Accessibility With a Product Tester Community

As we listed in the table above, a pre-validated tester community is a great first step to accelerating recruitment. Access to known product testers allows you to immediately know the tester is willing and able to participate. From there, it’s a matter of making sure they are the right fit for your test.

Accelerate Product Tester Selection with Access to Detailed Profile Information

Now that you have a pool to pick from, access to critical profile information is key. Being able to go beyond basic demographic information and into activity participation details and reliability is invaluable. By leveraging deeper profile information, you can be sure the tester is ideal for your test.

  • Profile Picture and About Me: It doesn’t take much to go beyond the basics. A picture and a few “about me” sentences can help you quickly gain a deeper understanding of who a tester is.
  • Enhanced Profile Details: When you need to zero in on critical tester criteria fast, pre-existing surveys are critical. From occupation details like their work environment or attire to shopping habits, immediate access to this info lets you skip the step of having to collect it.
  • Activity Details: Information about tester activities, their level of capability, and frequency of participation is clearly key when choosing testers. Having this information upfront allows you to identify a tester who can keep up with your test design right away.
  • Ratings and Reliability: You need to know the tester fits your target customer criteria and that they will provide valuable feedback. Access to reliability based on previous testing takes the fear out of the selection process.

Finding the right product testers shouldn’t slow down even the most rigorous production timelines. With access to testers with deep profile information, you’ll get the most relevant feedback reflective of your actual customers – and keep your product development timeline on track.

To learn more about how these tools and tactics can help your brand, let’s connect.