Bugs – How to deal with situation when customer finds one for you

9 Mar

I was reading this article posted by Alan Page from Microsoft in sticky minds. This article nicely gives some insights as how people react when customer finds the bug and reports it back to the product owner. Alan nicely describes some situations as how bug can slip into the customer in spite of going through the multi layer check.

As a software tester, I always knew that not all bugs can be found during testing phase and no SDLC process can guarantee you a bug free release. There is always a bug, which finds its way into the hands of the customer. So how do we react when boss comes screaming at us. Most often, I suggest following below ways to deal with such kind of situations,

  • Ask exactly and precisely what customer has reported. Sometimes it so happens by the time, testing team gets to know this information only when other teams have shown fingers at the testing team. Always insists on reference mails from direct customer or insist on keeping the testing team in the loop.
  • Context matters here. Sometimes it happens that customer might have changed his mind and now wants that particular feature should work fine and should have full functionality rather than watered down version. So seek more information from customer.
  • Some customers are more demanding than others, so I suggest study your end users correctly and do proper assessment of their behavior. Sometimes for various reasons this might not be possible, but still I suggest to find ways to know your ultimate end users. It is the key requirement for testing to succeed that testers need to know their end users behavior.
  • Stay calm and just listen. Do not accept or deny anything. Ask for more information. Once you have that information, validate that information with your documents. For doing all this exercise, you might require some time, ask for it. Senior managers might deny you this time, but again it is your job to remain firm in your statement.
  • Check all your previous filed bugs, it might be the case that you might have already filed this bug and some developer or some situation might have forced you to think and work in other direction. Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to report or chase some bugs. It happens and has happened many times in my projects. I often forget things quite easily.
  • Ask the customer to provide you with more information like screenshots, data they have used, format of data they have used, what software’s are installed in their machines, what time they encountered this bug etc. All these information will help you to ease the situation as this type of questioning means that you value that particular client very much. You are building empathy here.
  • Do not get defensive under any circumstance without validating information in the first place. Getting defensive is just a bad step.
  • Do not point fingers at any team or get emotional in your statements. Quite often, we as a human being find joy in pointing fingers at others in times of crisis. During my early days, I did have this character. Now a day I point fingers at my fate and blame god for getting me in this project.
  • Sometimes it could also happen that due to communication gap, what has been tested and what has not been tested has not been communicated to all stakeholders.So before reacting one has consider this point as well.

What I often suggest people is that its their own reaction to the situation which bring them a hard days or helps other people create a some kind of negative perception about their work. Therefore, whenever you point fingers on other teams or start getting defensive about your work, think twice as people are going to view your work with suspicious mindset. So next time, if customer finds a bug for you, thank him sincerely and tell/share with him your plan as how you will ensure that same situation is not going to be repeated again. In any case, if none of my suggestion works, then I must say that either you work in the wrong place with wrong team or I need to get some more experience in this industry.

Disclaimer: I do not know Alan Page personally but I do sometimes read his blog. I was reading his article at the time when I was involved in one of the escalation of my colleague and I was member of that firefighting team. Cool, I just love the way people escalate in this industry, all white and colorful words and each statement using the client/customer card as the tool.


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