#GoToGetsIT: This article is part of an ongoing series from GoTo’s thought leaders on the frontlines: Our Solutions Consultants deeply understand our customers’ unique challenges and connect the right solutions to meet their goals using GoTo technology. Here, they share their industry knowledge on what it takes to help businesses everywhere thrive in a remote or hybrid world.
Software Engineers are used to running Alpha and Beta testing on their soon-to-be-released code. Typically, these are controlled groups – Alpha testing being internal team members and Beta testing being a small selection of trusted external customers. Alphas from your employee base with their product expertise and experience are great for catching small glitches, but time and time again, companies find that the external customers offer the most wisdom and valuable feedback to help steer a product and keep it on the right trajectory for success.
Who are early adopters?
The customers who we deem “early adopters” have an opportunity to give their input by sharing their professional and personal opinions on new features and functionality prior to a full-scale release. It is imperative that the “real life” usage of new software code is put to the test and used in day-to-day critical operations in a “real world” environment before it’s available to a wider audience. Finding out things like the API, which you wrote and successfully tested in a few use cases, happens to fail when it is polled more than 3,000 times in one day by just one employee can be humbling (and annoying). But it is better to have a live high usage stress test take down a Beta than to have thousands of customers experience outright failures in the live release of the integration code.
Improve your customer lifecycle through Beta testing
Customers involved in beta testing also get a chance to drive product direction, making them more likely to stay with a vendor that has listened to their needs and implemented resolutions that help make their job tasks easier.
Have you ever had a Product Engineer jump on a call to hear the grievances of an upset customer? Or hear a customer who was pleading to see a feature or operability change that would resolve a headache they are experiencing in production usage? It can be valuable to let the customer know that you care about their feedback, you are indeed listening to their use case, you care about their ability to perform their job, and you have the power to make a change that could drastically set them up for success. When this is done properly customer attrition drops, renewals increase, and the lifetime of a customer is extended when they know that an organization has a vested interest in what is important to them.
EAP success stories
IBM and Slack
Salesforce advertises that IBM was an early adopter of Slack, the messaging app that they acquired in the summer of 2021. As an avid Slack fan, I personally know that getting a hold of communication mayhem and having organized conversations makes everything easier. Imagine a giant organization such as IBM making the move from cluttered email inboxes to a new messaging tool. It had to be no small undertaking, but it certainly cuts down on the chatter from disparate systems and allows employees to better organize.
Slack was strategic in bringing IBM in early during Beta testing and using IBM’s voice in many portions of the product flow. Listening to this big early adopter, they have now grown together and built trust. IBM is now the world’s largest user of Slack.
Smartsheet, a provider of workflow automation tools has a great Early Adopter Program on their website. Some of the reasons they list for becoming an Early Adopter are:
- Shaping the product roadmap
- Getting early access to new capabilities
- Building and testing new solutions
- Learning from others in the “Exclusive EAP Member Hub”
At the company I work for, GoTo, we also know that customers who invest time with us early are extremely valuable. We offer free trials to new customers, and existing customers are welcomingly interviewed when they agree to test a new feature or product. Recently we’ve been introducing customers to our newest remote IT support product, GoTo Resolve, and we’ve even built a feedback form into the UI of the product to hear their voices.
Get started with your EAP
Most of us in the software community love trying out new features. If we can learn about these features before they are released to the public, we stay on top of our game, being knowledgeable and informed. When you are a customer in any sized organization, you want to feel acknowledged and want to know that you are not just a number. By giving customers access to the latest and greatest features, keeping them informed, and probing for feedback, they start to feel some trust in the services and applications that they are using. This makes purchases start to feel more like a partnership with a company rather than a business transaction.
My advice: Don’t wait to implement an Early Adopter Program. You only have highly valuable insight to glean and customer trust to gain!