Survey: Many Companies Don’t Regularly Test Call Centers and IVR Systems

Many companies are lax in keeping tabs on ensuring that their customer service systems are delivering superior service, according to an Empirix-sponsored LinkedIn survey of more than 1,000 international technical professionals.

The survey, conducted in early summer, asked managers and executives across multiple industries how they assure high-quality customer experiences in call centers as they enhance telephony, information systems and IVR systems.

Their responses revealed that few companies invest in technology to proactively identify problems with customer service systems, or to preempt them in the first place. For example, the survey found that 20 percent of companies adding new technology to their customer contact centers either wait for customers to complain, pray, or only pay attention if it’s a major upgrade. Most---62 percent---test upgrades manually by having employees randomly evaluate different aspects of performance. Only 18 percent use automated testing, which provides the most consistent and reliable intelligence.

The survey also found that most companies, 68 percent, never test the voice quality in their contact centers. Poor voice quality is a drag on call center performance because it forces service representatives to repeat themselves or, in extreme cases, ask customers to hang up and call again. That means that they or another representative has to start the interaction again, wasting time and preventing them from serving another customer.

This lack of pre-deployment testing and ongoing monitoring can reduce the returns on companies’ investments in customer service technology. Systems that drop calls, deliver the wrong information to customer service representatives, route calls incorrectly, or provide poor voice quality force reps to spend more time resolving each issue and adding unnecessary cost to each interaction. More importantly, when severe, these problems can lead to churn.

“The survey identified a huge disconnect between investing in customer service technology and knowing how to realize the maximum return on that investment,” said Tim Moynihan, vice president of marketing at Empirix, in a statement. “Companies are committing significant sums to purchasing the hardware and software, but they’re not viewing quality assurance as part of the equation. There seems to be a lot of talk about superior customer service, but this survey shows an inconsistent approach to testing and monitoring these systems.”

The results were more encouraging for contact center monitoring, with 31 percent of companies investing in monitoring technology to keep their customer service systems running smoothly. Still, the largest percentage, 45 percent, uses manual methods.

“Manual testing at least shows that the company is trying, but it’s not a good use of peoples’ time and it’s usually a one-shot deal,” Moynihan said. “It doesn’t provide a broad view of when and how problems might occur, especially when systems are subjected to a realistic number of users. Automated testing can validate the system thoroughly, from end to end, but few companies use it.”