Kurt Dahlstrand, Director Technical Sales & Services at Hammer, explains how automated testing and monitoring can help you avoid costly CX failures.
Contact centres continue to evolve to meet changing customer needs in an increasingly digital world. Successful customer journeys depend on multiple technology systems working together seamlessly.
Any disruption to these underlying systems can lead to an annoyingly slow or poor quality experience, or worst case, a complete failure of the system rendering self-service communication inoperable.
Automated testing and monitoring can play a valuable role to ensure smooth running daily operations, by monitoring contact centre performance and alerting you to CX failures – before your customers do.
In this blog, we explain how advances in technology mean that you can now test the end-to-end customer journey in an automated fashion and highlight some of the key test cases for contact centres in today’s world.
The purpose of testing is to ensure that customer interactions and agent experiences perform as intended.
This involves measuring specific events in the customer journey; starting at the point where a call is received from the carrier network, through IVR or IVA interaction, out to an agent and terminating with the after-call survey.
The aim of testing is to establish if the key events took place as they were designed to, whether each event took place as quickly as needed to satisfy customer expectations, and if the quality met desired thresholds.
Manual vs. Automated Testing
Amid the growing complexity of contact centre operations, manual testing seems almost archaic. It’s time consuming, labor intensive, expensive and inefficient: imagine picking up a phone and placing a call into the contact centre, navigating through various IVR menus, and then repeating – one-by-one – hundreds if not thousands of times. And yet, we still see this as a commonplace practice across many organizations today.
Automated testing, on the other hand, is capable of simulating thousands (even hundreds of thousands!) of calls in minutes.
Beyond just traffic generation, automated testing can also facilitate end-to-end testing utilizing virtualized test agents that validate proper call routing, screen pop data delivery, and call quality.
This automation can be scaled to support full production traffic loads or much smaller loads (but many more use cases) for quality assurance or user acceptance testing.
Coupled with real-time monitoring, automated end-to-end testing supports more informed decision-making through robust assurance for entire customer journeys across all channels and platforms.
It ensures better customer outcomes and more effective use of resources to deliver measurable ROI, particularly around investments in new technology.
When Do You Need It?
The short answer is all the time.
Pressure to innovate quickly using technology is enormous (and growing!). This puts increasing strain on front line staff, contact centre leaders and Dev Ops teams.
They are either struggling to implement fast enough or are picking up the pieces as upgrades, patches and new infrastructure are released – often without adequate testing.
Voice user interfaces like IVRs are updated regularly, meaning problems with the customer journey often won’t come to light until after updates are released into the live environment.
With the prevalence of issues that frustrate customers likely to rise as complexity increases, testing ought to be considered critical to playing to win. It provides valuable assurance that frees up resource, enables innovation and ensures quality management.
Five Areas Where Automated Contact Centre Testing Can Help Your Business Win in an Ever-Changing Landscape
1. Business Continuity Planning
The pandemic laid bare the vulnerability of contact centres to unexpected peaks in demand, often across several channels simultaneously.
And while managing peaks is an everyday aspect of contact centre preparedness and business continuity planning, many were caught off guard discovering too late their infrastructure, network, and applications didn’t measure up.
Whether expected – like seasonal peaks – or unplanned such as travel disruption, extreme weather or an e-commerce website outage, how can you be certain your contact centre will hold up?
The answer is without running real-life simulations you just won’t know for sure.
Automated end-to-end testing provides you with bullet-proof assurance your contact centre will continue to perform – to peak capacity and beyond – in fact we would go so far as to say that automated load testing is the only reliable way to test your business continuity strategy.
2. Monitoring Voice Quality for Home Working Agents
Hybrid-working is now a permanent feature of contact centre operations. Yet, do you know if voice quality and data access are consistent across all your agents – whether they are working from home or in the contact centre?
Without an understanding of whether customer experience varies between contact centre and home-based agents, how can you know what needs to be done to optimize consistency?
On-going testing and monitoring of home-based environments can help ensure quality is maintained and issues are identified quickly. End-to-end test automation offers this possibility – discretely and cost-effectively.
3. Independent Validation of Your CCaaS Provider
Migrating to the cloud has delivered improved scalability and flexibility to contact centre operations and reduced the need to invest in expensive infrastructure with the associated risk of redundancy.
But how do you verify claims about uptime reliability made by your CCaaS provider? The truth is without on-going independent CX journey testing and monitoring you have to take their word for it.
If you were to spring an unexpected load test on your CCaaS provider, would they pass or fail? The answer is that without independent end-to-end testing, you just can’t know.
4. Infrastructure Upgrades
As a contact centre professional, you know the one thing you can always rely on is constant change. If you’re only partially migrated to the cloud or if you host entirely on-premises, you’ll be introducing new infrastructure on a regular basis to keep pace with changing demand.
Whether you’re upgrading your network, introducing new SIP trunk capacity or releasing updates to your telephony platform you’re always going to sleep better at night if you can be 100 percent certain key functionality like systems, workflows and integrations still work. Or that SIP trunk capacity mirrors IVR, queue, and agent capacity.
Automated, end-to-end testing delivers this peace of mind.
5. Negative User Feedback
We all know receiving negative feedback from users puts pressure on front line staff leading to fewer successful customer outcomes, setting off a chain reaction of events which can be costly.
That’s why contact centres place such great importance on ensuring customer interactions meet a defined quality standard within all channels and across all agents.
But what if things aren’t going to plan? Is it possible to know where the performance shortfalls are? The answer is resoundingly “yes”.
Negative user or advisor feedback can be avoided. And “yes”, automated end-to-end testing will help you minimize exposure to it, leading to more successful outcomes, enhanced customer experience and satisfaction.
To learn more about the benefits of automated contact centre testing download the ebook Automated Contact Center Testing & Monitoring 101