Defining Progress Toward Your CX Assurance and Automation Goals
For customer relationships in a growing number of companies, digital is the new normal. According to Foundry’s “2021 Digital Business” study, 91% of businesses have adopted, or plan to adopt, a “digital-first” strategy. Many are already there, whether they planned it or not. MuleSoft’s “2022 Connectivity Benchmark Report” found that 72% of customer interactions are now digital.
This expanding, digital-first landscape radically reshapes the customer experience (CX) — and what it means to ensure high-quality interactions between customers and brands. When most customer engagement with your company happens digitally, and much of that begins with chat rather than human agents, you can’t rely on anecdotal evidence to guarantee those experiences are going smoothly. In this context, software testing is critical for every digital channel.
Not just any testing, though. An effective testing program must match the scale and scope of digital customer experiences, especially as these experiences and the technology that supports them become even more complex. When complexity is high, organizations need to consider adopting a robust, automated testing program, such as incorporating AI testing to consistently monitor when the business hits technological limits with traditional testing practices. Achieving test automation isn’t simply a switch you turn on or off, though; it’s a goal toward which your company can grow and mature.
Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of developing a mature automated testing program, what that growth process looks like, and how to speed up your journey toward more comprehensive CX assurance.
Automated Testing and CX Assurance
Digitally based interactions call for a different way of managing and monitoring customer experiences with your brand. That’s where the concept of CX assurance comes in. More than just a general way to check in on customer service, CX assurance is a detailed process for measuring and detecting any flaws in the customer experience.
At its best, CX assurance involves testing during the software development stage and monitoring in the real-time, live CX environment. To truly capture every aspect of the customer experience at the scale and speed that digital technology allows, however, requires automation.
Consider an IVR system for a major U.S. bank. With customers across the country, it must manage calls from thousands of customers in different regions each day. These calls range from simple balance checks to more complicated service requests that must eventually reach a human agent. Along every pathway in these call journeys, there is a plethora of potential dead ends, ditches, and detours that could derail the customer experience. Whether it’s a dropped call, a misrouted request, or a failure to address the customer’s issue, the root problem is the same: Defects in the software are causing problems in CX.
When you multiply those potential pathways by the thousands, the need for automation is clear. With every software release or system update, it would be incredibly difficult for manual testing to keep up the pace or test extensively enough to cover every possible nook and cranny of the customer journey. Without automation, tests will take longer, labor costs will increase, releases will be delayed, and flaws will inevitably escape undetected. Incorporating new testing methods, such as adding AI to the repertoire, businesses will see a more consistent level of coverage being monitored and assured.
Benefits of Developing a Mature Automated Testing Program
With test automation in play, however, your business can achieve greater CX assurance without experiencing ballooning manual labor costs. Holistic, continuous testing touches every aspect of the development process, allowing you to catch and correct issues before they become serious problems.
Organizations that develop mature automated testing programs experience several important benefits. With a mature program, you can:
- Support DevOps principles: Manual software testing is simply too time-intensive and inefficient to align with the DevOps mentality of continuous iteration and continuous delivery. That’s why many companies that adopt Agile software development and a DevOps approach to releasing, updating, and supporting CX solutions embrace automated testing.
- Design more comprehensive tests: Testing every single contingency facing a CX solution, such as IVR or chatbot software, is beyond the scope of any manual testing process. There are countless paths a customer may take when interacting with the system, and testing every possibility isn’t practical. With automated testing, however, teams can efficiently perform functional testing on every possible scenario and workflow.
- Produce more specific insights: In addition to letting your team explore a broad variety of possible scenarios, an automated testing solution can also zoom in on a specific test case. For example, you can set up a test to demonstrate cases in which a customer would receive negative results when interacting with the CX system. This test case can then reveal how the correct solution would navigate them back to the menu.
- Running tests remotely: The ability to perform work remotely is vital for any development team today. An automated testing solution lets you set up a scenario remotely and check in on the results as they come in. There is inherent efficiency (and therefore value) in not needing a person in the room with a server, manually pushing buttons to conduct each test.
All these use cases for automated software testing add value when you’re designing, developing, and deploying your customer journeys. And the more mature your testing program is, the more you can realize the benefits.
Growing Toward Test Automation Maturity
Achieving testing maturity by automating your testing practices can thoroughly transform your CX development and upkeep process. But how do you get there, and what does growth look like?
It’s helpful to think about maturity in terms of stages. Growth toward a fully mature automated testing program isn’t a linear journey through these stages, and there will be progress and setbacks, with growth moving more quickly in some areas than others. Still, having a clear view of what growth looks like at each stage can help you to chart a course toward testing maturity.
- Stage 1: A company at Stage 1 performs automated testing on an ad hoc basis. Every time they test, teams must start from scratch. They have not yet defined the procedures or toolsets they need to automate on a more regular, repeated basis. An organization in this stage may intend to create reusable test suites, but it hasn't done so yet.
- Stage 2: A business that has successfully set up some reusable test suites has reached Stage 2. By creating tools and code that can function over time, these businesses save themselves time. Rather than merely reuse test suites as they are, personnel can also enhance them over time and receive more consistent, instructive results from their automated testing.
- Stage 3: At Stage 3, testers create a targeted test script for each aspect of their CX systems. Team members write testing code that’s designed to be used again. In contrast to the previous stages, in which testers manage each new job as it comes up, Stage 3 organizations have developed a roadmap and created a measured approach to testing. This is a sustainable, strategic level of testing for CX systems.
- Stage 4: At Stage 4, there is a repeatable model in place. The team knows the processes and has identified the automation window. Since there is a streamlined model for generating new test code, businesses that have reached this level of automated testing maturity can multiply the work accomplished without additional time or resources.
- Stage 5: This is the pinnacle of what companies can achieve through CX testing. Stage 5 businesses can create testing automation that is, itself, an automated process. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning to discover the structure of the CX application and generate appropriate, automated tests for the entire CX environment.
Not only does this “stage view” of maturity give you a clear picture of what growth looks like, but it also helps you decide the right destination for your business. Every business doesn’t need to reach Stage 5 to achieve its goals. With a clear picture of each stage, you can evaluate your own use cases and determine what level of maturity will bring you the most value.
It’s worth noting, though, that if your business has invested in continuous development methods such as Agile and DevOps, you’ll likely find more value in the more advanced stages of testing maturity.
What’s Your Maturity Score?
Those basic descriptions of the stages are a helpful starting point for evaluating your organization’s current level of testing maturity and sketching a picture of where you want to be. But you may want a more detailed, full-color image of where you stand and a clear map of how to reach the more advanced stages of maturity.
Cyara’s CX Test Automation Maturity Model can provide exactly that. When you use this industry-first model and assessment, you’ll receive a personalized testing maturity score, complete with a comparison with industry benchmarks and recommended next steps to improve your score and reach higher levels of testing maturity.
Once you have your score and actionable plan, you can explore Cyara’s robust set of CX assurance tools, which can help you accelerate your progress toward your maturity goals. Take our Test Automation Maturity Assessment today so you can start to plan your testing automation journey.