Sunday, July 22, 2012

Focus on the Customer

Hello Testers!  It has been way to long since I posted something on this blog.  I find it interesting that it took a vacation to inspire me to post again.

While planning the vacation I visited numerous websites.  As a tester, I was somewhat  alarmed how many defects I observed on these websites.  The defects did not really bother me too much because they are websites.  What really bothered me was how non-userfriendly many of these sites are.

When booking airfare it was unclear as to whether the prices were round trip or each way.  When booking trains it was not easy to determine was it a direct route or a slow route.  Key attributes such as family passes were not obvious nor routinely recommended.  You purchase your ticket for Virgin trains, but you never ride on a Virgin train.

The craziest thing I found wrong with almost every website is that it was not obvious how to contact customer support.  Many times through exhaustive searching of a website I could not find the answers to my questions.

So here is the one example that set me over the edge.  Our daughter has become a vegetarian, so she wanted me to contact United Airlines to make sure she got the vegetarian meal on the plane.  I thought this would be a simple radio button or checkbox on the user profile.  Hell, we had to add passport details and other personal information.  When I went in to adjust her profile I could not find anywhere to change her meal selection.  I finally ended up calling customer support.

When we were preparing to leave my daughter asked me to confirm that she had a vegetarian option for the trip home.  Again nothing on the website was obvious.  The only number available to call customer support was a 1-800 number.  No where on the site could I find out an efficient way to contact customer service from an international location.  They flew us to a foreign country, so they should be prepared to service, me, the CUSTOMER.  Well, calling from London on a cell phone, I incurred phone charges at an international rate.  I have not got the bill yet, but I can just imagine the cost of this inquiry.  As it turned out they set the vegetarian option for the entire round trip flight, but how was I to know.

I will not even get started on my experience with airport kiosks.

Bottom line for me as a tester is that I need to pay extremely close attention to what the customer should experience.  I need to focus on not only the functionality that is on the web page, but what functionality simply might be missing.

Be the USER!