Cristopher Kuehl interview

Why traditional QA processes aren’t working for your customer service team?

Quality assurance is a continuous combination of data collection, analysis, training, and improvements. Those elements drive the customer satisfaction and the great customer service a call center provides. The goal is that the QA processes ensure customer interactions align with the business standards. With this in mind, we thought about the state of current QA processes and how it’s transforming. We had a great conversation with Cristopher Kuehl, VP of Analytics & Client Insights at Sitel, about this & here is an excerpt of our discussion:

What is your QA process today?

Cris: Within Sitel, we’re slowly transitioning into automation across different processes. The traditional quality monitoring of checkboxes doesn’t work for the speed at which our business needs to move. Receiving feedback 3 weeks later is irrelevant.

We use speech analytics for compliance automation, behavioural analysis, and as a primary factor to drive our business behaviours. We’ve got to be able to get to the data and take action on the data. That’s how we’re transforming our QA environment, not just for us, but for our clients as well. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you see with QA today?

Cris: We did a study about the traditional quality review and found out that about 95% of the companies that we do business with today are still in the traditional quality monitoring form. Out of that 95%, the average time from the time the call was taken until the coaching actually happened was two and a half weeks. That’s the biggest pain point since any time you add manual intervention, you create risk.

  • Firstly, you’re creating risk because that habit is now continued for two and a half weeks before the feedback is done.
  • Secondly, you’re creating an automatic defensive environment. So, it’s not a very good use of data.
  • Finally, it’s very subjective.

We once had a situation where a QA agent was specifically finding bad calls for an agent strictly because they had taken their lunch out of the refrigerator. We’re all human so you’re going to bring that bias in no matter what you do.

Speech analytics can remove the human programming bias. AI is going to look at John, Beth and Bob, the exact same way every single time, doesn’t matter Bob stole the lunch out of the lunchbox.

Do you definitely believe that AI has a place in improving QA within call centers & BPOs? Do you think people are very open to adopting AI within their current processes?

Cris: I think they’re getting there. I think the world is still afraid of terminator & people look at AI in the same way. It is similar to how they looked at the cloud. The cloud was big & scary at the beginning, but people got used to it & adapted.

AI is going to reshape customer experience by helping eliminate the easy problems. I think people recognize that it has a part in the future, but I don’t think they recognize that it’s going to create a demand for more education in the industry. AI is going to create a demand for more complex, challenging roles, which are going to reshape the contact center industry. People will have an increase in job satisfaction because they’re no longer answering the same thing every single time. Instead, they’re problem-solving and handling difficult situations.

How are you educating people regarding AI & its use in the call centers?

Cris: I think it comes down to education & exposure.

  • Education is understanding the different use cases, how it can be applied & what it is. 
  • Exposure is taking a small use case.

I like to think of it as oatmeal; it’s a breakfast not many people like, however, if you have it every single morning then you’re not going to skip it as you know it’s good for you.

What are the most important call center metrics for you?

Cris: Voice of the customer & Net Promotor Score (NPS).

Ultimately, how your representatives represent your brand is what’s going to keep the customers coming back to you. They are the voice, face & front, so voice of the customer & NPS, in my opinion, is extremely important.

Finally, what are your top challenges today?
  • I think the biggest challenge is that people still recognize the call center as a cost center. We are constantly educating leaders on the value call center has & the importance of investing technologies with us.
  • Secondly, there is a common misconception that offshoring is going to aggravate their customer experience because they can’t do it as well as what they do in-house. One of the ways to overcome this challenge is by building trust, letting people know that experts are there & that they value your brand
  • Lastly, is diversity in call centers. We need to make sure that we don’t only focus on one language or location but hire people who can speak different languages & are from different backgrounds.

About Cristopher Kuehl

Cris is the Global VP of Client Insights & Analytics at Sitel. In his current role, he is responsible for anywhere from speech and text analytics, predictive modelling, advanced data visualization, customer mapping to customer experience. He has been in the contact center industry for about 15 years in roles focused on the analytics from a contact center perspective.  

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