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What’s under the hood? – The blinkered approach to contact centre testing.

When it comes to buying a new car, you don't just look at the picture and take the word of Bryan (you can call be Bri!) the sales guy when he tells you how great the car is.

You want to get behind the wheel and put it through its paces. You want to be sure when you hit the breaks hard that the car responds and two of the wheels don't fall off in the process.

W should surely apply this same logic to contact centre technology deployments, but how many projects are signed off simply because the system can accept a call and the IVR appears to work as it should, without actually running the system at scale to see how it performs?

But it should just work!

All to often end customers will not request or carry out any formal testing at all. With the number components required to deploy of a modern day contact centre it's often difficult to determine who is ultimately responsible for making sure it all works together.

Regardless of the fact that it's in the best interest of both the end user and the integrator to ensure the system can operate under the agreed specification, who should take responsibility to carry out the testing and bare the cost is often disputed.

It's easy to see why, the end user feels they are buying a service that should meet the agreed specifications whilst integrators are providing a solution that will do just that so long as the bespoke 3rd party components and network providers stick to their side of the bargain!

To jump back to the car analogy again, Brian will give you all the assurances you want that the wheels are not coming off anytime soon, but he can't give you any guarantees that the pothole in the road that the council still hasn't fixed isn't going to knock a few bolts loose!

Some will argue that testing isn't important as any outage would be covered by SLA's. While this may be true, the damage to the businesses reputation and the potential loss of new business will often far outweigh any credit available from missed SLA's.

Historical high costs of both manual and automated testing made all parties look the other way when the conversation turned to who should cover the cost.

However, with the advances in SaaS and new players entering the automated testing market, the cost of automated testing is now affordable to the masses and shouldn't be a bone of contention for either party.

Logic and certainly best practice dictates that a formal end-to-end test of the entire contact centre deployment should be carried out and an agreement made from the outset as to who is responsible for managing this piece of the project.

Look at the big picture!

Even when people do test their contact centre environment they'll often shy away from creating a holistic test and instead focus on unit and functional testing.

Unfortunately in these instances the activity generated doesn't truly represent the call traffic that real customers will generate and doesn't even come close to showing you how your system will respond to volume and sustained call traffic.

Instead of simply kicking all four tyres, get behind the wheel and see how they perform doing 70mph along the M1.

Automated testing technology can replicate high volume real-world calls being placed across your entire infrastructure and highlight problems as they're identified.

With automated testing technology reducing testing timescales and UAT by up to 75% it doesn't need to add weeks to an already tight project timescale and can actually save you money in the long run.

Put time on your side!

If you're using any automated testing software that's worth it's salt you'll be able to carry out a number of tests during a pre-agreed time period (unless you're buying an annual licence and then you can test whenever you like!).

This allows you to really get to the guts of where any problems lie.

You know what the system has been spec'd to handle and automated testing will allow you to gradually build up to the pre-agreed levels without simply pushing it to it's limits and watching it fall over.

Carrying out tests with a gradual ramp up will allow you to quickly identify when and where problems start to arise to allow you to address and then re-test until all issues are resolved.

Automated testing also allows you to carry out testing over a sustained period to determine if you systems can not only handle a sudden jump in traffic, but also continue to operate if that traffic continues for an extended period of time.

This collective empirical data will allow you to ensure that your system has been built to specification and can continue to operate even when the unexpected occurs…which we all know it will!

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