All too often I see companies inviting customers into betas of new products (real betas, not “Google Betas”), reaping the benefits of their feedback, and then telling those customers to pay for these new features.

I can kind of understand how this happens. Someone in charge – maybe the fictional CFO I often bat around on this blog – has planned around this new feature costing more money, and intends to collect that money. No exceptions. And after all, don’t customers love being involved in betas?

While customers do enjoy getting sneak peeks at new technology, true betas – ones where you’re actually taking into account their feedback – are a lot of work.

Don’t believe me? Swing by the popular webcomic The Trenches and scroll down to the “Tales from the Trenches” section. The life of a tester, even a video game tester, is not fun.

The Trenches

You don’t need to pay your customers in cash for being part of a beta, as they have a vested interest in your success. But you should pay them by giving them the feature(s) they tested for free. Don’t make them work for free, tease a new feature in front of them, and then ask them to pay up. No matter what your CFO says.

Crash test dummy photo courtesy of Simon Yeo