Whilst unsavoury scenes of people clambering over one another for the best Black Friday deals seems to have subsided in the UK, an ever growing number of UK retailers are embracing this US imported sales event and one point has become abundantly clear; Christmas shopping officially starts on the last Friday in November.
Whilst some agree, myself included, that kick starting the holiday shopping frenzy actually brings benefits for call centres supporting the influx of sales, it's not without it's challenges.
On Black Friday last year, BT saw the number of calls carried to their customers' contact centres leap by more than a third compared to 2014 and this trend is set to continue.
When a website crashes under the strain of traffic or the fulfilment centre is not geared up to handle the increased deliveries, invariably customers turn to a human voice for reassurance and to allay anxieties.
For all retailers, it's the contact centre team that are at the forefront of clearing up the debris left in the wake of this annual shopping bonanza.
When the unforeseen happens, the modern contact centre needs to be prepared for every eventuality, remaining flexible and agile to meet the demands of their customers and the business.
Preparation and execution is key and deploying an automated testing strategy within the pre planning and execution stages of your contact centre operations and can be the difference between a successful holiday season or a failure.
With the advances in cloud technology, machine learning and simplified user interfaces, automated testing is no longer a luxury afforded by only the largest contact centres.
Self-serve automated testing software allows you to perform all your testing requirements utilising in-house knowledge and expertise.
By eradicating the costly overheads of professional services and consulting, self-serve automated testing is now a viable option for all.
Understanding the limitations of your infrastructure is vital. With SIP channels often replacing ISDN it's now impossible to tell if all channels are open and operating correctly. The first you hear of the problem is when customers report back that they've been receiving an engaged tone before finally getting through.
Having an unlimited number of people dial into your contact centre at the same time is impractical if not impossible, whereas automated testing can immediately replicate 1000's of concurrent calls in a variety of different testing scenarios.
Offering unlimited testing opportunities, self-serve automated testing allow you to deploy unique tests appropriate to your requirements, obtaining validation that your systems are able to cope when your customers turn to the phone in droves rather than the web or social media.
Let's not forget the important role interactive voice response (IVR) can play in relieving the pressure placed upon your agents.
When executed properly, IVR can offer a faster and more effective service for customers with a simple or routine enquiry whilst diverting calls away from agents.
However we've all been in the situation where a temporary IVR is setup and tested only for it to have a negative impact further down the call flow which wasn't considered or thoroughly tested.
Incomplete or ineffective IVR's only create more frustration and anxiety for the customer which results in a more challenging call for the agent when they finally connect.
Self-serve automated testing can test an entire IVR path in minutes, giving you the freedom and flexibility to install temporary IVR's as and when required by the business.
Perhaps one of the most important, but often overlooked features of automated testing is the ability to run regular calls across your infrastructure to ensure all elements are working as they should be.
Advances in machine learning allows the software to record and analyse the test call on your behalf, negating the need for human intervention. When a variation in the test call is identified, the software alerts the appropriate teams for further analysis and appropriate remediation.
Regardless of how you use automated testing the ultimate goal remains the same, to take a proactive approach in identifying issues before they impact your customer.
And we all know the benefits of a happy customer!Talk To Us