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Unified communications is becoming an increasingly important tool for driving time to market and revenue streams. Frost & Sullivan, in its report, Meetings Around the World: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration, found that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies surveyed said they use UC solutions to cut the need for business travel. The same report also found that more than half of those responding thought UC solutions presented a powerful alternative to in-person office visits.

Companies requiring UC entrust their mission critical worldwide telecommunications to one of a few global companies. There are a plethora of complex issues looming for any company that relies on worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platform installations. These issues negatively impact customer retention, customer service, sales, reservations, corporate image, and revenue. Avoiding them at all costs is essential.

Setting up global sales and customer service telephone numbers and IVR platforms is complicated and costly. They are the business's lifelines for customers and employees. Being 100 percent sure that they are operational is imperative.

A First Financial Training Services survey reported that 96 percent of unhappy customers don't complain. However 91 percent of those will simply leave and never come back. A Gartner survey showed 85 percent of customers were dissatisfied with their telecommunications experience with 92 percent of all customer interactions occurring via telephone.

Inadequate testing
When new worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms are delivered to global businesses, they are tested randomly, at best, by the provider, or their local in-country telco partner. However, these tests do not verify all numbers being delivered, and the testing is rudimentary. These companies solely and sporadically test electronically, which permits problematic and/or non-functioning numbers and IVR platforms to be delivered to customers. This testing cannot detect ANY in-country call quality or quality of service (QoS) issues, and most importantly, does not simulate the in-country user experience.

It is because of the flawed limited relationships between worldwide UC companies and their in-country local telco partners that global companies are losing clients and compromising sales because their newly delivered worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms are faulty. Customers calling to inquire about and/or purchase services, products, and make reservations cannot do so because of problematic telephone numbers and IVR platforms. The time and money spent to fix faulty worldwide telecommunications is costly and frustrating, but more importantly, negatively affects how a company is perceived in the marketplace, creates a poor customer experience, and undermines customer retention.

It is imperative for customer experience, retention and revenues to simulate the in-country user experience by in-country quality assurance testing before delivery to global businesses. This ensures that all worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms are functioning properly.

According to Global Telecom Testing's 2015 Pass/Fail Report of Worldwide Telephone Numbers, more than 33 percent of worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms tested are non-operational upon delivery to global businesses, even though the UC company and/or their local in-country telco partner have stated otherwise. The risk of relying on these companies to ensure that worldwide telecommunications are operational is much like playing Russian Roulette with your business' lifelines.

For global companies whose day-to-day business operations depends on successful customer experiences and worldwide collaboration (conferencing, calls, faxes, etc) it is imperative that their worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms are fully operational and can deliver consistent robust, and positive results. Completed calls and the in-country caller experience needs to be the priority; not the cost of testing - you get what you pay for. However, completed calls and the customer experience clearly isn't their priority.

In-country testing essential
The first step to fixing problems is discovering them. In order to 100 percent verify that worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms are operational in any worldwide city, in-country, live landline and mobile test calls must be performed in those cities/locations. This type of testing identifies problems before customers and employees begin using the numbers and IVR platforms, which ensures businesses are successful.

In-country live testing not only locates any non-operational worldwide telephone numbers, but also ensures that they are problem-free, the message is correct, language and dialect is correct, voice and DTMF prompts are working, and that IVR platforms are functioning properly. The reliability of worldwide telephone numbers and IVR platforms are enhanced which in turn drives customer satisfaction, and retention.

In-country live test calls are the most important testing benchmarks because only this type of testing accurately simulates the in-country user experience by detecting call failures, call quality, IVR platform installation errors, and QoS issues.

Worldwide in-country testing performed by human testers guarantees accuracy at a level that cannot be achieved through computerized and/or electronic testing.

Steve Levenson is vice president of Global Telecom Testing (GTT), a company founded in 2007 specifically to address the lack of worldwide in-country live telephone number and IVR platform quality assurance testing for global companies. It is the only company in the world that in-country tests and simulates the user experience with over 800 local testers in 200 countries and territories. GTT enables clients to establish a local presence and a highly reliable testing environment by leveraging the world's largest global footprint. Customers gain a universal understanding of their in-country user experience enabling them to make actionable corrective decisions with measurable RoI, and collaborate on those decisions both internally and with telecom carriers. Each year GTT tests over 50,000 numbers performing 100,000+ test calls along with user acceptability testing of over 600 worldwide IVR platforms and 400+ mobile apps & games.