Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Testing and Chess, Any Connection???

This is about a conversation I had with a Customer care executive.

I wanted to access internet on my desktop pc with my mobile as the modem. My mobile was connected to the pc through a bluetooth dongle plugged in the pc. I had to configure some settings in the pc. So, I called up customer care and the executive asked me to switch on the Loudspeaker mode and follow his guidelines.

I switched on the Loudspeaker mode and at the first instruction itself, we both are stuck.

He says: "Sir, go to Start button, click on it, you will find Settings option".

The option 'Settings' can be viewed only if the menu style selected for your system is 'Classic Start menu'. I had the first option 'Start menu' selected for my pc. So, I was not able to see the option: 'Start > Settings'.

Me: 'What is the option you are looking for?' CE: Sir, first get to Start > Settings. It'll be present in all the computers. Me: I know that, but now I'm not able to find the option.

Give me some time.
******** I change the option in Control Panel > Taskbar and Start Menu to 'Classic Start menu'. ******* CE: Go to Network Connections. As I already had a lot of network connections configured, placing the cursor on the option 'Network Connections' displayed all the available connections. I had to add a new connection. Finally, I could configure the network connection. This took around ten minutes.

Observations: > The executive is not ready to listen to me and stuck with the same sentence: You must find 'Settings' option on clicking 'Start' button. > I'm not informed about my mission (Setting up a new network connection). > My questions are not answered (What is the option you are looking for? Ans: Network Connections) > The executive is not ready to believe that the expected behavior is different from the observed behavior (reason: option selected in Taskbar and start menu display)

This one call with the customer care executive gave me valuable lessons to ponder on:

Lessons I learnt:
> Testing is like Chess. In chess, you think about different moves possible by your opponent and play the best move according to situation. Similarly, in testing it's better to keep in mind that for an input, there may be more than one output.
> As the executive was stuck with the process and not ready to move away from the process, he made me(the end user) unhappy. User is more happy if the end result is achieved and not the process.
> Be open for options.
> Be ready to help your customers(A good post: Educate your customers :
http://testertested.blogspot.com/2008/02/educating-customers-on-testing.html ) Yesterday I understood the real meaning of educating the customers.

Feel free to comment. Share your experiences and views. God save customers from such executives...


glsandeep said...


If the executive is as good as u expect y will he sit in the call center..he would have sat beside u n started a blog like this....!!!

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


If call centre executives mean they are not as good as testers, and testers mean not as good as developers, developer means not good as architect, architect means not as good as CEO, CEO means not as good as Chairman, Chairman means not as good as the President of the country then ultimately are you trying to be GOD?

Every profession has challenges. It is just that me and you chose testing challenge to live our life but that doesn't mean anything we didn't choose is a bad thing.


You might want to link to Jon Bach's post that I have linked in my blog that you mentioned.

glsandeep said...


I mean same what you mean...

Even the cust. Executive feels the same...
What i wanted to convey is he(Cust. Exe.) is better in what he is doing....

Gaurav said...


When we had the recession in 1998, I lost my job as a software tester and "forced" to join a call center. I worked as a Technical Support engineer for 14 months.

I would agree, that some of us can be really very irritating.
Also, remembe that some software testers can be very irritating too :o)

I was trained to be very very explicit with customers.
Instead of saying click on the Start button, I was asked to say "Please perform a single left click on the Start Menu button"

We were also trained to ask closed ended questions.
Rather than asking, do you saying, go to Network Connections, my script was:

1. On the bottom left hand side of the screen, do you see a button which says Start?
Possible Answers: Yes or No
2. Please perform a single left click on the Start Menu button.
When you do that, do you see a menu popping up?
Possible answers: Yes or No
3. Do you see a menu item labelled Network Connections?
Possible Answer: Yes or No

This strategy saved me a "LOT" of time.

In one case, I asked the customer to open the CD tray and inside a CD (asking her to keep the shiny side down)
*sigh* the call got escalted..

however, there can be soem REALLY DUMB customers, who call the system tower as a Modem/hard drive/monitor/main frame...

For technical callers, I would say

1. REMEMBER that you need the executive. If you do not NEED the executive, fix the problem yourself.
There are many discussion forums where you may pose your questions
2. If you are technically well versed, then help the execute in assiting you. You may tell the agent that you are a software engineer and know your way around the system very well. Be patient and trust me, the issue would be solved (if within the scope of support)