Communications Blog • 4 MIN READ

IVR Testing Explained

Mike Burke

Written by Mike Burke

What is stress testing? What's the difference between stress testing and soak testing? What types of IVR testing should I use? If you need the answer to these questions keep reading.

IVR testing is when a contact center tests its IVR system and infrastructure with lots of traffic to see if it falls over. Coming into a busy period, like January sales for retailers or end of year for financials, contact centers need to be sure their systems can handle extra volumes traffic and IVR testing is one way to ensure they are ready.

IVR's can have fail points in various areas and there are different tests for the main culprits. Load testing and stress testing are the most common types of tests but below we describe them all. 

What is IVR Load Testing?

IVR systems live within a complex environment – PSTN access, sophisticated call routing & processing algorithms, database interactions and network connectivity. Load testing is a process that launches real telephone calls through the PSTN that access & exercise the IVR app and its environment at expected traffic volumes. Best practice is to gradually increase traffic to expected levels while plateauing at predefined levels along the way up to full load. This allows you to confirm that the entire environment works as expected: CPU & memory consumption don't go out of range, response times stay within acceptable ranges and network occupancy levels stay in the safe zone.

What is IVR Stress Testing?

Sometimes known as peak traffic testing, IVR stress testing confirms IVR systems have in fact been built to endure extreme traffic levels as measured in two ways – maximum number of concurrent calls and maximum call arrival & teardown rate. The important thing with a peak traffic test is that it needs to be actual outside-in traffic that accesses and exercises all the elements in the public telephone network, in addition to what goes through the internal network. StressTest™ load/performance testing remotely generates Virtual Customer® voice calls that interact with your solution just like real customers. Whether they're voice or web interactions, the peak traffic loads generated should be an accurate representation of anticipated real-world peak usage, so you can have confidence your system will operate as intended even in those real-world high load situations.  

What is IVR Soak Testing?

Soak testing verifies a system's stability and performance characteristics over an extended period of time, for example 1 to 4 hours. Effectively a soak test is a load test over a longer period of time. Run the system at full load, at the rate you expect it to run in production before “going live”. Soak tests are crucial because often underlying issues such as memory leaks might not emerge immediately.

What is IVR Feature Testing?

Feature testing confirms that the built application is consistent with the design, typically a Voice User Interface (VUI) or Visio flowchart. Feature testing checks that the IVR does what it says it does. When a complete “dialog traversal” is executed, every possible scenario or route through the IVR is run. If an IVR menu only offers options 1, 2, and 3, a comprehensive test also confirms that the IVR responds appropriately if the caller enters 4 through 9, 0, *, #, or even no input at all. Comprehensive feature testing is a requirement for all new IVR applications and many companies also validate every possibility whenever they make any changes in their IVR. An automated feature testing process is far more effective and efficient than manual testing. Automated testing enables more frequent application releases that are fully vetted before customer traffic hits them.

What is IVR Experience Testing?

Experience testing refers to 24x7 testing of the Customer Experience being delivered by IVR systems. Essentially, it's an automated secret shopper.  Test calls are made at regular intervals to ensure everything is working correctly all the time. HeartBeat™ experience testing performs ongoing monitoring of the availability, functionality, and performance of the IVR and its supporting infrastructure. Critical customer-facing IVR functionality should be tested every 5 or 10 minutes with alerts generated immediately when issues are identified.

What is IVR Spike Testing?

Spike testing is when a burst of traffic is launched to the contact center that is above and beyond what it is designed to handle. This identifies how the system deals with a big spike in traffic as might happen to a high-availability architecture if one site goes dark. Companies want to find out is if their system will fall over, gracefully degrade, or continue humming along. It often identifies ripple effects, and is critical in IP environments. 

Topics: Communications Customer experience

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