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Customer insight: how we test a service

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It’s important that DVLA engage with all customers who will use our digital services. Following the successful testing session hosted by Motability, the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) will host our next session on 28 and 29 October. Twelve BVRLA member companies who are part of DVLA’s fleet scheme will have the opportunity to user test the developed View Vehicle Record (VVR) service and provide useful feedback which will be used to make further improvements.

During the event Julie Riseley, Product Owner, will give an overview on how DVLA online services fit together. Julie will provide attendees with information on how VVR will allow companies on DVLA’s fleet scheme to view information on vehicles within their fleet, and then consider the benefits of opting into the V5C (logbook) on demand initiative. V5C on demand will offer fleet operators the option of suppressing a V5C when they register a new vehicle via a motor dealer. DVLA will only issue a V5C when one is requested by the fleet operator or when the vehicle is going to be sold on.

We are currently undertaking an exciting digital journey, transforming our processes into user-friendly online services, whilst continuously supporting those not using the digital route.

One of the main elements of our transformation is to ensure that the user, whether they are a member of the public or a commercial customer is firmly at the heart of the design.

Customer insight

Our Customer Insight team informs the projects of up and coming user needs. Typically the team will take a sample of a service and test it with a representative sample of users at least once in every two week sprint. The agile process allows us to react, review and improve. The process is important and allows us to take a product, test it, feed back to the project, develop it and test again.

The process

  • Firstly, the developers provide us with the sample or latest version of the product.
  • In the second week we test this version with customers. The footage and feedback is collected that same week and returned to the project team.
  • Then the developers may have a number of user stories to concentrate on and refine to resolve some of the issues identified in the test.
  • The new version is developed and released for further testing.

It really is that quick to gather this useful customer feedback and continuously engage with our users from as far afield as Plymouth to Glasgow.

Cost and difficulty

There is a myth that usability is very costly and difficult and that user tests should be kept for the rare web design project with a huge budget and a long time scale for delivery.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources and the best results come from testing with 5 or 6 users and running as many small tests as possible as the product develops. We have a number of things in place to help us. We have a contract in place with a recruitment company to source participants for us based on requirements which can be very loose – just any random customers are fine – or very specific.

In some tests we may want people:

  • of a certain age
  • with a particular driving entitlement
  • who have a certain level of internet experience

The upfront work in the discovery phase, about understanding our customer segments, allows us to be very focussed in our testing so we know the people who are helping us develop it are the ones who’ll use it in the long run.

We also use some software that allows us to record the customer as they use the system.

The software tracks:

  • the customer’s mouse movements
  • click rates
  • time on task
  • what part of the screen the customer is viewing and much more

We’ve recently begun streaming these testing sessions live back to the development team and some of you may have seen this last month. The real advantage is that when we are out on the road testing, with as wide a geographic and socio-demographic spread of our customers as possible, the developers are still able to get feedback in real time.

As much as possible we try to copy how a user might come across the system in a real life scenario and gathering this data is essential in our services being as user-centred as possible.

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