Interactive voice
response (IVR)
systems: three
tests to pass

Author: Rose de Fremery

Your interactive voice response system is a critical component of your contact center. In order to consistently deliver a high-quality customer experience, it must be resilient. Traffic spikes and sustained volume can tax your IVR system's capabilities, potentially impacting your customers. By proactively testing your interactive voice response system, you can ensure it continues to operate at peak performance even when challenged.

To guarantee a successful customer experience, your IVR system should pass three tests. But before you update or deploy an IVR system, you should be sure you understand the value it can provide.

What is an interactive voice response system?

Chances are, you've encountered an IVR system in the wild. When you call a customer support line, you usually hear an automated greeting followed by a series of options for progression. You can advance to the department you need by issuing a verbal command or tapping a key on your phone.

Interactive voice response systems can enhance the customer experience and improve contact center productivity by quickly connecting customers with the right resources—often in far less time than a human customer support agent could.

Maintaining and updating IVR systems

If you're implementing a new IVR system—or thinking about updating the one you have now—keep a few key considerations in mind. An IVR system may have unique network capacity requirements, particularly when it comes to sustaining periods of peak call volume. If an IVR system is not properly resourced from a network capacity perspective and it experiences a sudden surge in inbound calls, performance and customer experience could both suffer.

Updating and replacing IVR tools may also pose challenges, particularly if you are thinking about switching from a legacy premises-based IVR solution to a modern cloud-based offering that relies on IP telephony. Along with addressing network capacity concerns, you want to be certain that your new IVR solution properly interfaces with other key systems, including your contact center and unified communications solutions.

Whether your plan is to implement or upgrade an IVR system, pay close attention to the experience it delivers. Interactive voice response testing can help ensure that the customer receives a consistently excellent experience.

Interactive voice response testing to gauge system performance

Businesses can deploy a wide range of tests to assess the performance of their IVR systems, but there are a few clear places to start:

  • Stress test. A stress test determines whether your IVR system can sustain periods of exceptionally high call demand. To deliver the most accurate results, a stress test should simulate actual peak traffic as closely as possible.
  • Load test. A load test gradually introduces incoming calls to your IVR system, steadily measuring its ability to handle an increasingly greater capacity until it reaches a full load.
  • Soak test. A soak test generates sustained high volume over an extended period of time, putting an IVR system through its full paces. This type of test helps reveal hidden issues that could affect IVR performance.

In addition to running these three tests, businesses often conduct thorough evaluations to confirm that the IVR system's features properly respond to commands and accurately route call flow. Because interactive voice response systems exist as part of a complex ecosystem with other technologies, it's also wise to make sure the IVR system can properly integrate with other software. Ultimately, the customer should benefit—no IVR assessment is complete if a business cannot be sure it's delivering a high-quality customer experience.

How managed contact center services streamline IVR implementation

Deploying an IVR system is a complex undertaking, but time-tested resources are available to streamline and accelerate the process. Managed contact center services can help businesses better navigate the process of upgrading, deploying and testing an IVR system. A managed contact center services partner can also help manage costs and get better performance out of your IVR solution, securing an attractive ROI from your contact center investment—all while optimizing the customer experience.

Learn how Verizon's Contact Center Managed Services help you manage costs and get better performance.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.