Everyone loves a good IVR. Customers can save time by self-serving, companies can route the right calls to the right extension while minimizing call volume, and even getting honest service feedback is easier when it’s all automated.
So everyone loves a good IVR... as long as it works.
When it doesn’t, frustration levels easily rise. After all, as anyone who’s ever worked in a contact center knows, most customers don’t call in to praise us. They call in because they have an issue they need support with, or something went wrong and they’re already mad. Increasing their effort and making a bad situation worse is never good for business.
The solution most companies go to is more agent training. That, of course, is important, but it’s just as often that technology fails - way before interaction with an agent - lead to customer churn that could have been easily avoided. Enter IVR testing.
The Business Case for IVR Testing
Making your customers smile hasn’t been a “nice to have” in years. As more choices abound, as customers grow more aware, as it becomes easier to find reviews from others, customer experience has become the critical make or break of any business - more than product and price.
- 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience (2014).
- 98% of US customers and 96% of customers across the world see customer service as a significant aspect of their purchase and loyalty decisions (2017).
- "Even a minor improvement to a brand's customer experience quality can add tens of millions of dollars of revenue" (2020).
IVRs were invented to help companies scale high quality experiences, but when this useful tool doesn’t get taken care of - when it doesn’t get tested and optimized - it often ends up getting in the way.
So let’s see how to help our IVRs help us.
Improve These Few Things with IVR Testing to Increase Your Bottom Line
Let’s start with three important foundations for successful testing, then talk about the secret sauce - how to scale them.
Understand the Experience from the Customer’s Perspective
Besides getting their issue resolved, customers who reach out to a contact center want to feel understood. Who doesn’t, when we have a challenge?
When it comes to agent conversations, we talk about empathy training and showing customers that we care. When it comes to IVR, the technological experience is supposed to convey that we “get them” almost without words.
But here’s the thing. Developers and their managers, who dedicate a ton of time and effort to build great IVRs, aren’t always the best ones to decide that an IVR works well for their customers. They’re too close to the tool, or otherwise, live and breathe the industry (or at least the company). They’re also sometimes more tech-savvy than some of their customers.
What feels like a smooth operation to us might feel complex and confusing for our customers.
IVR testing often lets us discover challenges we never would have otherwise noticed, but our customers likely do. Yes, we could survey our customers and get some feedback, but we’ll only reach so many customers - and there might be some aspects of the technological process they won’t know how to articulate. We’ve got to test things out to be ahead of challenges that could come up.
Stay Proactive in the Face of Growing Tech and Business Complexity
Maybe you did some initial IVR testing and everything worked well, but as your system grew more and more complex - more service options, more integrations - things started breaking. Calls no longer get routed to where they’re supposed to, your voice system can’t properly identify what customers are saying, you name it.
Without regular, ongoing IVR testing, you discover this too late - after it already caused customer frustrations - instead of being proactive and preventing issues in the first place.
When you’re proactive, you can constantly fine-tune customers’ experiences. You can add regional dialects, improve accuracy despite background noises, and increase overall call efficiency. Customers will feel that your IVR, and therefore your company, “gets them.” They’ll feel supported and end the call knowing they can count on you.
But can your IT team count on your company?
Provide Enough Support for Your IT Team
Most of us in customer service come to work to put smiles on customers’ faces. Plus, we care about the success of our companies and the positive impact they can make when they thrive.
But many IT teams just don’t have enough support to optimize what they can offer.
Every team’s needs are different. Talk to yours to find out what they need most. To give you a few ideas:
- Maybe your IT team needs to be less siloed from other teams.
- Maybe it needs more data, so it can know how much call volume your IVR can sustain before it crashes.
- Maybe IT team members have been expected to do IVR testing manually, and they only have so many resources.
If it’s the latter, here’s what we’ve seen makes the most difference.
Want to Scale Customer Smiles? The Secret Ingredient to IVR Testing
It’s time to start automating your IVR testing. When you automate, you can keep testing your IVR even when your team is asleep or occupied with other tasks. Moreover, some IVR testing tools create functional tests for you every time you update your IVR. They’ll create monitoring tests, load tests and regression tests, then run them automatically, on an ongoing basis, alerting you if there’s an issue - often before customers start noticing the issue themselves.
No matter how complex your IVR is, or how many integrations you have, automated IVR testing easily covers all situations and paths, and it does so much faster and cost effectively than manual testing.
That means two things.
First, you shift your strategy from reactive to proactive. Instead of constantly chasing problems and trying to keep up, you’ll be ahead of the game, catching errors when they can be easily fixed before they cause business damage.
Second, you’ll also simplify your ability to show management the value of your contribution to the customer experience, and therefore, to the company’s bottom line. You might even end up creating a new profit center.