Customer experience (CX) is a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of any testing journey. According to a survey conducted by Qualtrics and ServiceNow, 80% of customers state they have switched brands due to poor CX, and 43% suggest they would likely switch brands after only a single negative customer service interaction.
The need for assurance
These are intimidating statistics, yet in my time with Cyara, I have frequently seen companies willingly sacrifice CX for internal metrics. Be it as cost saving measures, in the interest of time, or simply because it’s the way it has always been for them, CX has too often been the first thing sacrificed, so long as their communication channels remain accessible. For many companies that I have worked with, there seems to be the inclination to complete initial testing with a big event as the main motivator, for example a system migration. This leads to a ‘one and done’ tick box exercise, whereby Cyara completes functional testing, the newly migrated system goes live, and… that’s it. No further checks, no ongoing maintenance testing, no assurance that everything is still delivering the same high-quality CX as it was on day one. With how malleable these customer journeys can be, it is easy for a bad change to slip through and cause a poor experience, or even for something to break functionally and go unnoticed. Each instance like these can lead to hundreds, even thousands, of customers having a poor CX. If 43% of customers are willing to swap brands after just one poor experience, imagine the potential churn due to a lack of monitoring or maintenance in your contact channels.
The customer impact
I saw this regularly in my days working at a call center in the UK. Internal monitoring tools are only so informative, and I couldn’t begin to count the number of occasions where we were only aware of an issue with one of our channels because a customer had complained about it. Not only does this mean that customers are having a poor experience, but they’re also the ones informing you of the issue. Imagine as a customer, you tell one of your important service providers that you are not getting the CX you require. Now imagine, how disappointed you would be to be told, “we didn’t know about that”, instead of “we’ll fix that shortly”. Be it taking calls myself, or later managing the IVR (interactive voice response) system, it was always embarrassing to have to find out about our incidents from an enraged customer base. For many customers, this alone was enough of a poor experience to drive that dreaded brand switch. And that only touches on the potential lapses in the quality of service - things like an option not working, routing to the wrong agent, default routing or false messaging. A full outage is costly for any business, and every second your services are down impacts a growing number of your customers’ experiences. In this particular contact center, the costs of our service outages were estimated to be around a million pounds per minute. And yet on so many occasions, we were not aware of an outage until 15 - 20 minutes, or longer had passed, from the moment of failure. These outages would have been detected if we were testing our services frequently from the customer perspective. Through testing we would have been aware of the issue much faster and been able to more promptly resolve it. With this in mind, and considering how ready customers are to swap brands, why would this ever be acceptable? While technical functionality is crucial and should be the focus of any functional or regression testing, all testing should include an awareness of the customer's experience. And yet, time and again we see our clients sacrifice CX. Customer experience is all encompassing and should be monitored regularly across all parts of your customer journey. Be it by picking up a phone, accessing a website, or reaching out to a chatbot, there should be no reason to settle for a subpar experience, especially when tools are readily available to monitor all of your customer contact channels.
Take Cyara Pulse… Pulse would have been invaluable during my days in the contact center. It can be set up to enable regular monitoring of your IVR journeys and in as much depth as you need. Pulse can be enabled to run a full Cyara test case, and run it at your desired frequency. It checks your connectivity, your IVR journey, and your routing, and sends an immediate alert if anything is not functioning correctly.
Imagine if, during those unnoticed service outages I mentioned, we’d been able to actively dial our phone lines every few minutes? Immediately, a 20 minute outage that our customers had to report is reduced to an email alert in the inbox of the relevant support team in under five minutes. This quicker awareness leads to faster resolution and the test case results Cyara provides will better assist with root cause analysis. Had we utilized Pulse in this contact center, these costly (both in terms of finances and to reputation) outages and issues could have been much more efficiently mitigated, reducing the impact and cost of the service outage, as well as the impact to company reputation which subsequently affected the churn rate. On top of this, Pulse is invaluable to automate any repetitive phone line checks that may be required. In our case, this used to take the form of a daily set of line checks, to ensure that our key business lines were operating correctly, and that any messaging from the night before had been removed. As we were doing this manually, we were only able to test a dozen lines, instead of the hundreds of numbers we had. And this still took close to an hour to complete, reducing the effectiveness of our support team. Pulse would have completed those same checks automatically, concurrently, more frequently, and with a higher level of comprehensiveness.
Thus far, we’ve only touched on the IVR side of what Pulse can do. However, it can also monitor your website in much the same way. By creating a Cyara web test case, we can script a series of button presses through a website and test that key customer touchpoints remain accessible. Again to frame this in the CX lens – let’s say your IVR is down, and you are redirecting your customers to the website. Have you verified that the website is still working? And if it is, will it be able to cope with the increased load of redirected customers? If there are multiple pages of the website that different IVR deflections point towards, are these being checked frequently? CX can span multiple channels, and if your customer drops one to reach out on another, only to find it’s not fully functional, they will be highly frustrated. Even beyond outages, you can use Cyara’s web testing to check your key web journeys. For instance, using it to validate that your payment journey is always operational, will safeguard a key online activity, and introduce faster awareness should anything go wrong. With our web testing, it’s possible to script entire processes, activities and journeys that a customer may wish to complete on your website, and monitor this at your required frequency.
Finally, chatbots… With the prevalence of chatbots today, many companies have pushed them out as quickly as possible, simply to have one up and running. Yet, having one is worthless if it’s going to regularly misinterpret or misroute a customer. Asking a chatbot a simple question and receiving a “sorry, I don’t understand” response is terrible for CX, and one that I can personally say has been a motivator for me to swap companies. Your chatbot should be tested and fully able to respond correctly and accurately to customer utterances. For this, Cyara offers Botium, our dedicated chatbot testing platform. Botium starts by using your chatbot’s training data as a base, allowing us to first verify with NLP (natural language processing) testing that your bot is correctly routing each utterance to the appropriate intent. From there, we can start to produce test data, so we can test your bot with utterances it hasn’t yet seen. We can also introduce human errors to the testing to ensure your bot still responds as it should in spite of these ‘man-made’ mistakes. Additionally, Botium can undertake continual chatbot monitoring so that you can regularly test your bot and be certain that the ongoing experience remains as it should.
When it is this simple to assure your customer experience across all of these channels, why would you settle for failures and outages? Monitor, maintain, and reduce your issues to minimise customer churn, and make your customers even happier.