“The truth is that the majority of contact center leaders cannot depend upon their contact center infrastructure with total certainty.” This is one of the conclusions reached in a new research study commissioned by Hammer, The State of Contact Center Testing 2023.
Contact center leaders are feeling the pressure from all directions: to deliver innovation, upgrade legacy hardware, improve the customer experience and address rising churn levels; all while managing a hybrid workforce, focusing on agent retention and remaining completely operational.
Hammer’s president John D’Anna aptly likens the present situation for contact centers to “rebuilding an aircraft mid-flight.”
The State of Contact Center testing is based on extensive survey of over 1,000 contact center leaders and budget influencers in the UK, Australia, and the USA, carried out in 2022. This survey included a broad sweep of job titles, with respondents from as diverse sectors as Finance and Insurance, Utilities and Healthcare.
Here are five key insights from the study:
1. Cloud migrations are leaving valuable ROI on the table
Most contact centers have either moved all (18.7%) or part of (41.4%) their infrastructure to the cloud. A further 22% have expressed an intention to migrate within the next 12 to 24 months. But our study dug a bit deeper. Are people really getting the anticipated returns on their investment?
Around three quarters (74.54%) of respondents said that they took the migration as an opportunity to redesign their contact center, but only around a third (35%) in our study were able to strongly agree that they achieved all their goals.
Moving your contact center to the cloud offers an unprecedented opportunity to redesign your customer journeys and put the customer at the heart of your contact center. Yet just over one in three (35%) of contact center leaders involved in a cloud migration said that they carried out a pre-migration configuration audit and just 33% agreed that they were able to independently monitor the performance of their CcaaS provider.
- Read our blog “Learn from the Top Five Contact Center Cloud Migration Pitfalls” before you plan your next cloud migration project.
- More on the reliability of CcaaS providers and cloud migrations here
2. Testing is an untapped opportunity to improve outcomes from tech upgrades
The economic uncertainty may be increasing the focus on Return on Investment (ROI) but it does not seem to be dampening enthusiasm for technology upgrades; 96% of contact center leaders said they were planning upgrades in the next 24 months.
Planned investments spanned a wide range of technology applications from email and web chat to Conversational AI and Conversational IVRT to CRM, Omnichannel and Analytics systems, to name a few of those mentioned in our survey.
At the same time 87% of contact center leaders said they did not have the resources to thoroughly evaluate these technology investments. And on top of that, when we asked about the return from technology improvements implemented during 2020-22, just 36% strongly agreed that the project met their expectations in terms of performance improvements.
There is a huge opportunity to increase the Return on Investment from technology upgrades by testing improvements before they go live. With DevOps teams stretched to the limit, the majority, 88%, said that manual testing is just too slow. Automated testing will not only speed up implementation cycles; it will also ensure that the upgrade delivers anticipated performance improvements.
The modern contact center environment is dependent upon the interoperability between multiple systems and channels. Manual testing simply cannot do justice to this complexity.
3. Take ownership of the customer journey!
Today’s contact center is typically a patchwork quilt of multiple systems and applications, often with interdependencies between them and there are many steps in a single interaction where the user experience can be compromised.
Yet contact center leaders still rely on individual vendors to validate their technology, rather than recognizing that they must take ownership of the entire customer journey!
To compound this, lack of visibility is endemic across the industry. Only around 30% of contact center leaders can confidently say that they have clear visibility of technology failures that impact the Customer Experience and that is equally true of web chat, messaging, email, and SMS applications.
What this boils down to, is that your customers or agents are likely to find out about technology issues before you do!
A lack of visibility severely hinders your teams’ ability to properly diagnose and resolve issues, resulting in inefficiencies and failures between and across multi multichannel customer journeys that result in customer frustration and ultimately customer churn.
Tech visibility is essential for maintaining control of the customer journey. While orchestrating customer journeys across different channels is a big ask, the potential difficulties are mitigated by automated end-to-end testing, which offers the precision to validate omnichannel journeys and identify potential points of failure.
4. Outages will increase this year
Just 3/10 of contact center leaders expressed total confidence in their contact centers’ ability to handle unexpected surges in call volumes. That means 70% are exposed to a high level of risk when faced with unanticipated surges in call volumes.
With 67% of contact center leaders saying outages increased in frequency over the last 12 months, the industry is looking alarmingly exposed in 2023.
Have you tested your business continuity plan? A load test costs relatively little in comparison with the peace of mind it guarantees. No wonder then, it is a top three priority for 32% of contact center leaders.
5. IVRs are a make-or-break function, yet overlooked by quality teams
IVRs are quite polarizing. To many, they are dehumanizing and a pain to deal with. Yet for others they provide clarity, efficiency, and a uniformity that human agents simply can’t match. Whether your IVR is perceived as the former or the latter depends on your quality procedures.
Yet the research study confirms that the IVR is often overlooked by quality teams, with only 32% confidently asserting that they regularly load testing their IVR. So, it is perhaps not surprising that 74% said customer feedback highlights IVR routing failures, 70% receive complaints about IVR complexity and 68% of respondents admitted that their customers regularly complain of being caught in an IVR loop.
Frequent updates are necessary but must be handled with care. Manual testing simply cannot test every journey a customer might take through the IVR and certainly not at scale.
The more complex the IVR, the more potential points of failure. A successful IVR channel is reliant upon good, thorough testing, every time it is updated, to verify that the IVR is doing its job. Automated testing can validate each component that underpins successful IVR journeys.
After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, and Hammer’s survey shows that only 32% of contact center leaders strongly agree they have clear visibility of routing failures.
Download the full report for more insights to improve the performance of your contact center environment in 2023.