Why You Need to Always Test Your IVR System

Due to constant technological evolution, nothing ever stays the same in the contact center. Take interactive voice recognition (IVR) systems, for example. These systems undergo continuous A/B testing to figure out the best way to get people through the application more effectively and efficiently.

Once a better path through an IVR is discovered, the older, less efficient methods are wiped from the system. However, whenever a change is made to the IVR application, it's necessary to test the entire system from top to bottom to make sure everything still works as intended. After all, you need to determine that changes made to one part of the system didn't affect another part of the system. Here are four scenarios in which IVR testing is absolutely critical.

Test After Patches and Updates

Contact centers and IVRs regularly undergo periodic patches or program updates. Whether required for security purposes or to correct bugs, these kinds of changes can create adverse and unintended effects. Because the changes and updates can affect underlying databases and data processing systems, running a full load test to serve as an overall health check is a good idea in these situations. Also wise would be running a full dialog traversal test to ensure that the system works the way it's supposed to -- at every twist and turn.

Adjust for Capacity

Another thing that happens on an ongoing basis within the contact center is capacity adjustments. Capacity can be cranked up and down, depending upon what's going on at any given point in time. During a busy period, such as the holiday season, you may need to expand capacity to meet increased customer demand.

A newly enhanced IVR application, for example, may need to support more concurrent customers, which will require more ports because every interaction takes longer. Additionally, there will be more interactions with the underlying networks and databases because the expectation is that people will use self-service instead of transferring to an agents. Whenever any change in capacity or capability is put into place, an important step is the running of a full stress test to make sure that every element in the environment is functioning properly and no part of the system is getting overwhelmed.

Anticipate Peak Usage

Predicting the future is actually easier than most people think. We can all make reasonable assumptions about what the coming year will bring and events that will occur. For instance, at the beginning of every year, we know that winter will be followed by spring and summer. We also know that each of those seasons will bring with them peak events -- such as Black Friday or an inevitable weather crisis.

Organizations should prepare for these events months in advance by running load tests to make sure that nothing has changed in the underlying environment and that the system in able to handle whatever comes its way -- be that a traffic spike brought about by, say, a late summer hurricane that hits the Eastern seaboard or a midwinter blizzard that roars up through the Midwest. You know these kinds of events are inevitable, so you need to stay one step ahead of them by preparing for their eventuality.

Maximize the Customer Experience

Contact centers are core to the customer experience. If a customer has a bad interaction with your contact center, it could end up damaging both your brand and bottom line. The good news is that, even with constantly changing technology, you can remain in control of your contact center. And testing is the key, especially when it comes to your IVR.

The truth is that customers hate inefficient or ineffective IVRs. They hate IVRs that route them to the wrong agents. They hate IVRs that don't understand what they're saying. And most of all they hate IVRs that hang up on them. You can avoid these mistakes by stress testing your environment to ensure your configuration is in peak condition and has the functionality to meet the needs of customers. After all, happy customers mean a healthy business.