Cyara Blog

Is It Time for a Checkup?

Posted by Matthew Schwarz, Program Manager, NALA and EMEA

March 21, 2016

stress_test.jpgIf your customers are reaching your agents, you can assume everything is running smoothly in your contact center, right? Well, maybe, but what happens when your contact center is bombarded with unusually heavy traffic? Load tests are the contact center’s equivalent to stress tests that your doctor might order to check your heart. And, just like stress tests, load tests can uncover serious issues that can cause a catastrophic failure in your contact center.

Recently, a major telecommunications provider and an equally well-known financial services company performed load tests. This blog post provides some details of their load tests and some key takeaways.

Telecommunications Company Load Test

The load test was run by placing calls into the customer’s contact center environment over the public network. These calls peaked at 2,500 simultaneous calls.

Several key issues were identified in this test:

  • IVR Prompt Playback Quality Issues, including audio dropouts that made it impossible to understand the prompts
  • A large number of calls took more than 10 seconds to answer
  • For some calls, there were long silences before the IVR prompts began

Running a load test is a simple task if you use a testing platform to manage the details. In fact, without a testing platform, your contact center could get a clean bill of health when there are serious issues that weren’t uncovered.

Financial Services Company Load Test

In the load test for the well-known financial services company, the client planned three cutover activities to occur once they reached 2,500 concurrent calls. In this disaster scenario, the primary contact center had a failover to a secondary contact center, and the secondary contact center had a failover to a third contact center.

In the test, the primary contact center failover to the secondary contact center was unable to maintain the number of calls without a performance issue that would have been noticed by customers. The secondary contact center failover to the third contact center also was unable to maintain concurrency and in a live environment there would have been a noticeable degradation to the customer experience.

The primary contact center load test for a disaster scenario was not deemed successful. In addition to dropping calls, the primary contact center was unable to keep the concurrency, and no new calls were accepted during the failover and for three minutes afterwards. Also, calls made to the inbound numbers were ringing for longer than 20 seconds on average, which would have a negative impact on the customer experience.

These issues at the primary contact center would not have been uncovered without load testing, and because of the complexity of the scenario, required a robust testing platform to manage the details.

Other Top Issues Uncovered with Load Testing

The issues uncovered in these two load testing examples are not the only ones that can be uncovered. Our engineers came up with a list of other issues they commonly see when load testing.

There are several issues that occur related to calls…

  •  that are dropped during heavy loads
  • that are not picked up during heavy loads
  • that are not answered during failover
  • that are not being answered by agents; i.e. ring no answer behaviors

Capacity issues can also occur, for example…

  • the carrier wasn't allowing all of the calls through
  • the infrastructure that is installed at the customer site cannot handle the number of calls

 Other issues that sometimes occur…

  • delay between messages and transfers increases, sometimes dramatically
  • calls are answered by the client, then forwarded to incorrect destinations
  • issues with call routing defects and validating attached data

Issues with backend systems are also common under load…

  • problems are often found with backend call recording
  • call back applications can fail to call customers or can deliver the wrong prompts to customers

Ensure Your System’s Health

The best way to avoid a heart attack and a visit to the emergency room or worse is to take the stress test and deal with the underlying issues, usually through diet and exercise. Likewise, load testing is the best way to avoid a critical meltdown of your contact center and corrective action to fix any underlying problems the test uncovers. Think about it. Can you really afford not to take preventive action to safeguard the health of your contact center and your brand image?

Find out about Cyara’s Rapid Start Load Testing

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