Communications Blog • 3 MIN READ

IVR: A Common Casualty from Lack of Contact Center Stress Testing

In a recent blog, I discussed how call center stress testing ahead of peak season was an essential for any businesses relying on sales from their busy periods to tide them over throughout the year. But what is the impact of failing to carry out sufficient contact center stress testing?

IVR bears the Brunt from Lack of Stress Testing

IVR failures are a typical example of the fallout from lack of stress testing. Consider January Sales, they often have many limited promotions and seasonal messages requiring countless changes to the IVR, not to mention all the changes from December holiday messages. It's likely there are additional routes and options left and hidden throughout the IVR. However, the vast majority of contact centers will fail to do the necessary stress testing, which means leaving customers hanging in dead-air. 


How much Stress Testing is Necessary?

You must test every single permutation of a typical customer interaction -- and a non-typical interaction. You should test continuously. If you make a change today, you must test it today. Yesterday's test isn't good enough. This is the difference between making the sale or losing the sale. If a customer calls in and gets transferred to a dead end or trapped in a loop, you've just lost the sale -- and probably the customer -- for good.


The 800 Problem

I remember a case where a customer was trying to reach a large national retail chain via an 800 number. The company had the same 800 number across the U.S., but would automatically route incoming calls to a local number. The company was managing thousands of local numbers. If the employee responsible for managing the phone tree incorrectly keyed in a local number, a missed connection would result. And that's exactly what happened, often. In fact, customers who called in from one city were routed to a competing retail chain!


Stress Testing Confirms whether your IVR can meet Demand 

Another reason you need to run regular tests is to ensure what you think you have in place, is in place. I'll give you an example. Let's say you do your homework and add several new phone lines to your contact center to handle the increase in call volume for promotion time. Let's say you request additional lines from your telecom provider to take your total lines to 20,000. Then the season kicks into high gear, calls start coming in and you notice your contact center is maxing out at 15,000 calls. What's going on?

You might reasonably think: OK, that's all the calls we're getting. But what may be happening is your telecom provider has under-provisioned your lines. Instead of 20,000 lines, your provider has given you only 15,000. Those other 5,000 callers are getting a busy signal. Many telco providers have limited capacity so they manage their phone lines via an arbitrage system. The only way to know for sure if you've been shorted by your telco is to perform contact center stress tests and IVR load tests that will tell you where the problem lies.


Topics: Communications Customer experience

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