Technology is supposed to make our lives better, not take control of our lives and make us miserable. To stay in control of the situation, you must think and plan ahead of time, which includes planning failure into the process. That means going through a testing procedure not assuming that it's going to pass, but instead assuming that it will fail. Planning to fail results in a schedule that accommodates issue identification, remediation and re-test.
When Should You Perform IVR Technology Testing?
One of the critical features of all contact centers in today's world is self-service brought to you by interactive voice response (IVR) systems or self-service websites. From a life cycle perspective, it's always critical to perform a complete test of every element using IVR testing tools prior to go-live. Whenever there's an inflection point or change, you also need to conduct a test to ensure the system still holds together under pressure and works reliably.
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Full Dialog Traversal of the IVR Application
In the IVR environment, it's important to do a full dialog traversal of all the possible combinations of user inputs. Every possible path—from the main menu to either accomplishing the intended task or being transferred to an agent for assistance—should work as specified. For every ‘happy path' representing the menu options actually voiced by the system, there are likely five times as many negative tests that have to be conducted to make sure the system is working properly. Performing a full dialog traversal will ensure that you don't have code that will lead people to a disconnect situation when they are already confused or frustrated to begin with.
Gluing All the IVR Pieces Together
In the typical contact center, elements from as many as 20 different vendors must be integrated together. After unit testing all components and determining that every piece meets its individual spec, it's time to glue everything together. You should load test the system (especially the IVR complex) to make sure that everything works as intended when traffic revs up to the expected peak level, both in terms of the absolute number of users and the rate of transactions entering/leaving the environment. This is especially important in today's VoIP world. It's more work to initiate and disconnect an interaction in the SIP world than it was in the TDM world. All the different elements associated with the velocity of incoming/outgoing calls must be thoroughly tested to make sure that revving the system won't cause it to crash in some fashion.
Plan for Failure, Testing IVR Technology for Success
Consider all the underlying interactions that an IVR application has to make behind the scenes. Several different databases must be accessed to perform user identification, authentication, and finally information retrieval. Users may wish to review their account balance or plane departure schedule, for example. All those databases need to be tested to determine if they can deliver a response within the time that people expect. With the advances in speaker authentication technology, extensive data processing has to occur within seconds. When dealing with such a complex environment, it's critical that all these elements are tested before go-live to ensure everything works exactly the way you expect it to and delivers the customer experience you intend to deliver.
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