In the age of the customer, companies must compete on customer experience and the contact center is often the delivery mechanism for that experience. Contact centers use a broad range of complex technologies for the web, IVR, and other channels, that must all work in concert to deliver seamless, omnichannel customer journeys. Adding to the complexity are advanced technologies such as, conversational IVR, chatbots, and artificial intelligence.
Customer expectations are higher than they have ever been before and customers expect companies to know what they want. But the costs of failing to meet expectations are high as poor customer service experiences increase service costs and customer defection. According to Forrester, 63% of U.S. customers have stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service.
Contact Center Testing in an Omnichannel World
Customer journeys have become omnichannel journeys where customers use different channels, both digital and voice, to get tasks done. In addition, many customer journeys use self-service and assisted service channels. Customers often start their journey on the web or IVR channel and then move to web chat or a live agent call when they cannot get their task done on their own. This omnichannel customer journey has the following implications:
- CX failures are more likely to occur when customers cross channels.
- Customers expect companies to view them holistically, despite having interacted through multiple channels. However, most brands operate channels in silos.
- It is likely that customers that come through assisted service channels (web chat or call), were not able to get their transaction done in self-service.
- The customer’s tolerance for CX or other issues is low.
- The agent is under pressure to resolve the issue in real-time.
The challenge for contact centers is to ensure a seamless customer experience throughout all omnichannel journeys. While these journeys might be elegantly designed and driven by complex technologies, the CX must be thoroughly tested to ensure that the journeys perform as designed.
Another challenge is the agent’s experience. Agents need immediate access to customer data through CTI and desktop applications. Agents are under pressure to analyze and resolve customers’ complicated issues in real-time, while the customer is on the phone or in web chat.
Read our article Assuring CX Quality: The 4 Incident Severity Levels.
Testing Approaches for Omnichannel Customer Journeys
Contact centers need a way to test the whole chain of the customer journey. Solutions are needed that test digital and voice channels thoroughly and the transition points between channels. Testing should include call routing to appropriate agents, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to ensure that customer data from prior channels is readily available, and agent equipment and applications (phone and desktop).
There are four levels of testing needed for omnichannel customer journeys to ensure that every channel, every transition point, and the agent’s end are working as designed.
Test the functionality, scale, and quality of the self-service experience for voice and digital self-service channels (IVR, web, chatbot).
Include the agent telephony equipment and network in the span of customer experience testing.
Transition to Agent
Test the customer experience at the transition point from the self-service channel to the assisted service channel. Test that the customer is routed to the appropriate agent that has the skills to resolve the issue. Test that the customer data from the CTI data dip moves to the assisted service channel for the agent to access.
Test the agent experience across all technologies, including the agent application environment, applications, screen pop, and analytics. Ensure that the software is up and running and that the performance is smooth.
Comprehensive Testing Required Across the Customer Journey
Functional and regression testing must be done across the complete technology stack in order to deliver omnichannel customer journeys. Agile development methodologies have enabled shorter, more frequent development cycles. But traditional manual testing takes a large amount of resources to completely test everything. An automated testing tool is needed that provides functional testing to ensure that the journeys work as designed and regression testing to ensure that code changes are working.
Load testing is needed to make sure that the journeys work under high volume interactions. For example, the functionality of mobile apps are dependent on the carrier network and the speed that agents can handle calls and email is dependent on back-end systems. Load testing scenarios that mimic real life and call into play all the supporting systems, from the telecommunication exchanges through back-end and third-party systems must be tested.
Monitoring the complex technology environment in production is the only way to know what happens in real life conditions. An ongoing monitoring solution is needed to make sure that all the components are working and that any issues are discovered before customers find the problems. Results from monitoring should be fed back into the regression and load testing scenarios to ensure that defects that were fixed, do not happen again.