When it comes to customer experience (CX) in the contact center, performance is everything. Whether it’s a dropped call, an extended wait time, or a frustrating handoff across channels, customers will remember these bad experiences.
It doesn’t take many mishaps to spark someone to consider a change. In 2019, even before the pandemic ratcheted up consumer expectations for CX, a Clutch survey revealed that 79% of customers ranked efficient resolution as one of their highest priorities when dealing with telephone service. Further, according to a survey by Salesforce, nearly half (48%) of all customers will consider switching brands if they don’t get the service they expect.
These realities may seem harsh, but they simply serve to emphasize the critical place of continuous performance testing in contact center assurance. Without it, you leave your CX performance up to chance. Every contact center must have a clear strategy in place to ensure consistent, comprehensive performance testing across every service channel. Below, we’ll explore a few continuous performance testing best practices to set you up for success.
What Is Continuous Performance Testing?
Before we dive into best practices, it’s important to define our terms. Simply put, continuous performance testing prioritizes testing throughout the development process, in addition to ongoing monitoring of the live production environment. As a critical component of DevOps and Agile methodologies, it favors integrating testing into the development process rather than leaving it until the end.
This process “shifts testing left” to reveal performance issues earlier in the development process, before they become complex problems that require intricate unraveling. This saves time and prevents problems from directly affecting CX.
For instance, consider the potential impact of a simple menu update to your IVR. Such updates commonly introduce routing problems, where an updated menu prompt directs a caller to the wrong sub-menu. Without performance testing, this creates a cascade of negative effects: The customer is confused and frustrated, their wait time is prolonged or they give up, and the contact center falls short of its SLAs and CX standards. With proper performance testing services in place, that issue should never make it into a live call.
5 Continuous Performance Testing Best Practices for 2024
Simply running performance tests isn’t sufficient, however. To truly capture its benefits, you must rely on the following five best practices.
Make a Plan
As with any new business process, the first step in establishing continuous performance testing is to make a plan that ensures your testing practices and priorities align with your business objectives.
Testing is most effective when you start with a few key focus areas and scale outward from there. Take some time to review and establish baselines for your SLAs and other critical CX metrics and build test cases around them. For instance, if you want to ensure you answer 90% of calls in under 20 seconds, what system or process issues are preventing you from reaching that goal? That’s a clue to where you should focus testing.
These larger goals will also help inform the types of tests you build. Performance testing encompasses a broad range of test types, from load tests to stress tests, and each serves different purposes.
Bring Developers and Testers Together
Close collaboration between developers and testers is integral to the DevOps process in general, and this is no less true of continuous performance testing.
Traditional waterfall methods separate these two departments into silos, which causes a buildup of issues at the end of the development cycle. In contrast, continuous testing opens lines of communication and encourages testers and developers to work together throughout every stage of development. With more input across the entire cycle, developers can make improvements on the go and testers can stay informed about development as it progresses.
Test Early and Often
Closely related to collaboration is the idea of continuous iteration and continuous development (CI/CD). This method of performance testing treats releases and updates to your IVR and chatbot systems as an ongoing process rather than separating them into isolated, prolonged instances. This breaks problem-solving down into smaller, more manageable chunks and speeds up the process of improving and updating your CX systems.
It’s helpful to think of this in terms of “QAOps,” where CI/CD becomes a constant process of quality assurance for your contact center. In that sense, continuous performance testing is a proactive approach to maintaining your SLAs and CX standards.
Automate Performance Tests
If you’re serious about QA, however, you’ll quickly realize that the task of performance testing is far too large for a team of manual testers. The best performance testing services allow you to automate the process. This is the only way to deploy tests quickly enough to get a comprehensive view of CX performance and test at scale.
Consider one of Cyara’s clients, a major Australian bank. Its six contact centers handled 120,000 customer calls per day, and the bank was migrating everything to a new CX platform that would support dynamic call routing. It needed to ensure its new platform could handle up to 3,750 concurrent calls, and voice quality issues were already causing problems.
By automating 600 test cases to test 6,000 unique call flows, the bank was able to reduce its testing time by 80% and improve voice quality success rates to 99.7%. What once took five testers five days can now be done by one tester overnight.
Review and Revise
Again, the continuous performance testing process is just that: continuous. That applies not only to the software you’re testing but to the tests themselves. As you collect data and make improvements to the system, you should continuously revise your test cases to provide more precise, informative results. Likewise, live monitoring is essential to the process, as you must have a view of the real-time CX environment beyond the confines of pre-release testing.
Gain the Full Benefits of Continuous Performance Testing
Continuous performance testing is integral to contact center CX assurance. However, the testing process is just as important as the initial commitment to QA. Without a larger embrace of DevOps, a plan for automation, and testing that connects to your larger business goals, you’ll only achieve a fraction of the benefits of performance testing.
To do that, you need to leverage the cutting-edge technology of the industry’s leading continuous testing performance service. Cyara’s load and performance testing solutions will put your CX to the ultimate test so your customers don’t have to. Capture issues early and reduce CX flaws by up to 80%. Contact us today to learn more about what Cyara can do for your business.