This Is Where Quality Meets Customer Journey Monitoring

Customer journeys are at the heart of every digital business. Understanding, measuring, and optimizing is a business imperative.

We can quickly lose sight of our customers working with digital products; there are so many exciting products, tooling, and metrics to play with. But the truth is, our customers will only use and buy with a successful digital experience.

Customer journey monitoring helps to refocus our organization towards a customer-centric vision. It brings significant value both from a functional than operational perspective, verifying right now our experience.

We need a structured approach to overcome the challenges at the crossroads of various disciplines and complex IT systems. In this article, we share a definition of customer journeys, their added value, and where they meet with test automation.

What are customer journeys?

Our digital platforms support a User Experience (UX) aiming at a particular goal. In the world of e-commerce, we traditionally refer to two key concepts: Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Journeys. But why?

These journeys are here to ease the users’ experience in the problem they are trying to solve. The various hallways of a grocery are organized in a particular order to facilitate your shopping but also increase the number of products you would buy.

Digital experiences have the exact requirement of offering a clear path to the users to perform a particular action. The online experience removes the physical constraint of moving and walking and can also be confusing to navigate.

Customer journeys are models to focus on our customers as Personas with particular needs to streamline the experience to fulfill them. The result we target per journey is a Call To Action (CTA).

Why should we monitor customer journeys?

Our companies exist as long as we have users or customers. An obvious reason to monitor customer journeys is to make sure our users can buy our product and services right now on the platform. We also need to bring novelty for our users.

We have to constantly evolve our user experience to keep them interested, engaged, and respond to their needs. But changes create a series of requirements we have to secure.

Firstly, we can only improve what we can measure. Customer journey monitoring is then at the foundations of enabling improvements and iterations. Digital experiences require to rely on data, dashboard, and automated processes to access insights; there is no other way around.

Customer journey monitoring is at the foundations of improvements and iterations.

Secondly, we are always in a cognitive dissonance between changes and the stability of our user experience. We want to deliver increments to our user experience, but at the same time, changes come with risk due to the complexity of IT systems. Monitoring does enable proactive detection.

Thirdly, things break in IT; this is part of the infrastructure. High-availability architecture, automated recovery, replays are all there to help us react gracefully to these instabilities. Similarly, we cannot just assume the recovery will happen. We need trustful active supervision to know the state of our user experience.

But where do customer journeys link with QA and test automation?

Where customer journeys meet with test automation

Monitoring is a task associated with the operations team, handling supervision processes, tooling, and hotline. This vision is partially true and lacking an essential part, the customer perspective.

Quality assurance teams can bring additional value to the company from their business perspective across other functions. Both manual and automated actions can support the customer journeys, the critical part being to align the test techniques to the business priorities.

Figure 2: The business perspective and added-value of customer journeys

Customer journeys are happening with real users in the production environment. Nevertheless, we can still test and validate them across the other environments for non-regression. We have to be clear about the verification we want to perform.

For non-production environments, our primary goal is to focus on non-regression. We achieve this usually with manual and functional automated tests executed at each release. The tests run regularly to ensure the end-to-end integration with the other components.

In the production environment, what changes? We have many more users in various contexts, more extensive infrastructure, and business happening there. For the same reason, we will tend to execute the monitoring much more regularly, ideally every minute.

But still, what customer journeys have to do with test automation?

We need to combine the previous elements: the customer perspective, verification, and automation. We usually build a set of functional non-regression tests we perform in UAT. The added value is to capitalize on these same tests, executing them in production and more regularly.

This comes with challenges.

Challenges of monitoring customer journeys

If customer journeys were a simple subject, much more starts-up and companies would succeed with their digital experience. This is not the case for a series of reasons we are hopefully improving over time.

A fundamental element of customer journeys involves humans as of today. We measure the user experience with a traditional step-by-step and workflow approach. We can easily forget about the emotional part: Does the user like this interface? How does he feel when using it? Would that make it come back? A series of tooling exists, but still, this is, in essence, not easy to measure.

Figure 3: The human elements of customer journey monitoring

There is also the complexity from a technical perspective. Customer journeys rely on the successful execution of the various IT layers with an unstable network and infrastructures. It explains the challenges of stability, integration, and limiting noise. 

For test automation, we have to limit our customer journeys to the most important ones to focus our efforts. Then, our automation needs to be reliable mainly by a proper design of the test steps, actions, and, more significantly, environments and data. A traditional case is to create an account and make an order, but you don’t want to take false orders every minute while validating it. Those two elements are fundamental for stable customer journeys monitoring with alerts that people care about. False positives will be ignored over time.

Our customer journey approach is vital in integrating those requirements.

How to start a customer journey monitoring initiative

A traditional yet powerful practice is to “Start With Why”. We come back to the business and user perspective. Business priorities, key customers, and associated experience are the first step. This involves not only looking at dashboards and metrics, as much as engaging with key stakeholders to align the requirements.

Once we know the why with what we are trying to achieve, we can start to address the how. Similarly, a collaborative approach from product, development to operations will bring significant and lasting value. Customer journey monitoring involves transversal processes where alignment is vital.

In the following articles, we will share the process of identifying the customers’ journeys and implementing them using Cerberus Testing. Meanwhile, feel free to look at our videos and use-cases to get familiar with the framework to support your test automation journey.

Start now here.

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