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Call Me


I spoke about the overlap between testing and technical support at SoftTest 2018 last week. The presentation was based on When Support Calls, the book I wrote with Neil Younger and Chris George for the Ministry of Testing.

Here's the blurb:
Testers are said to be advocates for the customer, but when do most testers come face to face with a real-life customer? I don’t mean internal stakeholders, but the people at the sharp end of things, the ones actually using the software. Rarely, I find. Which is why it can be a SHOCK! to be asked to participate in a customer support call. It’s an unusual situation, there’s pressure, the customer is watching, something needs fixing, and there’s a deadline ... of yesterday. 
Gulp. But don’t worry! You’re on the call because a colleague values your input. Perhaps you’re great at analysis, or lateral thinking, or problem solving. Maybe you have deep knowledge of your product, or the whole ecosystem, or the historical angle. You could be there for questions, or answers, or honesty when you don’t have either. 
These kinds of tools from your testing toolbox are valuable on support calls and in this talk I’ll say how and why. I’ll also give an intro to customer support, talk about how to prepare for calls, what to do during and after them, and — importantly — what you can take away personally, for your product, and for your team. 
Key messages:
  • understanding of customer support and its similarities to testing 
  • actionable advice for when support calls you 
  • benefits for you and others of being involved in support
Here's my slides:
Image: Atlas Records

Comments

  1. In our company, we sometimes get "tech tasks" when support can't resolve an issue with a client and asks us to examine or explore the behaviour the client is reporting. And in our existing product, we get to test bug fixes arising from reported issues.

    But sometimes those fixes can be quite complex when the Product Owner has accepted something as a bug that ought to have been an enhancement. I recently spent about three months working on a complex fix because one of our power user clients wanted to do something with the app that it wasn't designed to do, and the PO had agreed to it...

    I would like the opportunity to engage with clients more, especially as we're working on a new app; but the established practice is that only the PO or the sales account execs have contact with the client on top-level issues such as requirements gathering or ways of working. We may be moving to a greater emphasis on hosting apps for clients, and I think we may have to broaden out our contacts with clients, and that will be A Good Thing.

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