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7 Challenges to In-House IVR Testing

Written by Jim Chickadel, QA Practice Director, DecisivEdge™

For most organizations, the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system a critical piece of technology that is increasingly becoming more complex and sophisticated.  Companies are expected to have a highly functional IVR system that gives their customers the kind of experience they are looking for when they pick up the phone to call. Consumers increasingly have many options to purchase their goods and services and companies making it easy for them to interact on digital and voice channels will win in the long run. That said, IVR friction is to be avoided at all costs.

In this blog post, I thought I would write about a theme I am seeing as I speak to clients and potential clients.  All too often I’m encountering situations where companies are relying on their business units for testing their IVR upgrades, enhancements and functional releases.  

Below, I outline 7 Challenges to In-House IVR Testing:  

  1. Customer Experience (CX) Channel Evolution: An IVR is just one aspect of CX channels which are evolving rapidly. The introduction of Visual IVRs and the integration of mobile devices, RoboChat and text is already here.  An Organization’s customer service offering must become more sophisticated, not simply to remain competitive, but relevant.  Therefore, it’s testing capabilities must evolve and become more sophisticated as well.
  2. Manual Testing: Companies that utilize business resources to test their IVR systems are generally relying on manual testing.  Given the scope and complexity of even straightforward IVR solutions, automated testing is becoming the norm and the good news is there are options to choose from.  
  3. Documentation: Documenting IVR test results is important, especially from a compliance perspective, but just as importantly is having a fully documented IVR topology.  An accurate and current depiction of your IVR solution will go a long way in making sure you are fully testing your system.  Asking Business users to be responsible and accountable for this activity may be expecting too much.
  4. Inexperience: Although they may do their best to help test IVR applications, sometimes business users don’t have the expertise to build and execute a comprehensive set of test cases. It’s not their fault, they were originally hired for a different role and they may not possess the skills and patience needed for testing.
  5. Test Coverage: IVRs can be deeply complex with many options and paths branching all over the IVR landscape.  Developing, organizing and executing test cases to ensure proper coverage is daunting even for a seasoned tester.
  6. Time and Money Better Spent: When business resources get bogged down in such testing it essentially detracts from gainful revenue-generating endeavors.  It can be a tremendous waste of company resources to employ the requisite army of callers to properly test a system.  
  7. Beyond the IVR: Testing shouldn’t end at the IVR, it needs to go well beyond to the agent workstations or integrated customer service applications. Utilizing Business resources in a manual testing fashion will present bottlenecks when testing large or frequent IVR upgrades and functional software releases.  An Organization is better positioned to address this by having an automated testing strategy that will meet its Agile/DevOps delivery goals.    

In summary, these are just a few examples of the challenges I have seen companies face by utilizing their business unit for IVR testing.  

If you currently utilize internal business resources for your IVR testing needs, you might want to rethink that strategy.  Having a dedicated team of experienced IVR testers or outsourcing to the professionals might be a better tack to take.  

Good luck and if you would like to explore these ideas further or talk about some of the IVR automation tools available to organizations today, please feel free to contact me at, Jim.Chickadel@DecisivEdge.com or call me at 302-299-1570 x415.

About the Author:

Jim Chickadel has over 25 years of leadership experience in the areas of Quality Assurance, Project Management and Software Development.

Jim’s previous leadership positions include SVP and Sr. Director of Systems Development for several prestigious fortune 100 financial institutions such as JPMorgan, Chase Manhattan Bank, MBNA America and Bank of America. He is currently a Senior Vice President leading the Quality Assurance Practice for DecisivEdge.

Jim holds a Master’s in Accounting and a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Finance from the University of Delaware.