NICE Interactions - Personal Connections Elevated
NICE held its annual user conference, Interactions, in Las Vegas, with a day set aside for analysts to delve into the company’s products and services.
The company has a broad customer experience portfolio, including a cloud-based contact center platform, as well as analytics, workforce optimization (WFO), automation and AI. After NICE’s purchase of inContact and Nexidia, the company brought all of these assets together to create CXone, which it calls a true native, open cloud platform, injected with analytics and AI. By bringing together NICE’s workforce optimization, AI, automation, and other capabilities with the inContact CCaaS and Nexidia analytics portfolios, NICE provides a powerful customer engagement solution.
At the analyst event, NICE CEO Barak Eilam discussed how the company has transformed to become an enterprise software company based on an open cloud platform, focusing on enterprise and midmarket customers. As the company looks to the next five years, it’s focusing on leadership in:
- AI and automation
According to Barry Cooper, Enterprise Group President, NICE’s strategies goals for the coming year include:
- Relentless innovation in order to find new ways of generating value for customers
- An integrated portfolio providing unified experiences, shared platforms, and program management
- Accelerated cloudification
- Simplified and agile organization
- Customer experience
Relentless innovation includes several areas such as analytics, AI, robotics and automation. NICE is leveraging machine learning and AI in everything they do, with AI embedded throughout its offerings.
CCaaS, AI, and More
Paul Jarman, NICE InContact CEO, discussed the company’s CCaaS offering CXone, as well as its partner ecosystem (including RingCentral, Fuze, and others), and CXone Customer Success Services. As Jarman noted, “Our job isn’t to sell a voice product but to solve the customer’s problems, which requires a suite approach.” The Customer Success Services include a customer success advisor who understands contact center technologies and can access a team of experts in scheduling, training, performance management, digital channels, bots, etc., to help customers solve their problems.
Aviad Abiri, VP Portfolio Marketing & Enablement, and Chris Bauserman, VP Segment & Product Marketing, expanded on this and discussed NICE’s portfolio vision. Emphasizing the four pillars of the portfolio – cloud, digital, analytics, automation & AI – they noted that these are not separate product categories, but rather that these elements are “throughout everything we do.” For example, Abiri explained that creating exceptional customer experiences starts with the customer and creating a unique personalized experience while empowering the agents with the right tools. He added that NICE provides an omnichannel experience to seamlessly route interactions across all touch points to connect customers and employees in a smart and highly personalized way, while capturing the information through recording, and adding capabilities to analyze, connect, authenticate, capture, and comply. Bringing in Nexidia Analytics, adaptive workforce optimization, predictive behavioral routing, customer journey optimization, and other tools in the NICE portfolio brings this all together to help businesses provide better customer experiences.
As mentioned, the use of AI and automation throughout its portfolio and offerings is key, and NICE introduced several new capabilities in its new CXone Spring Release, announced at the event. According to the press release, CXone’s end-to-end AI capabilities enable organizations of all sizes to predict and act on AI-powered insights to delight customers, engage employees, and significantly improve agent productivity. New CXone AI capabilities include:
- NICE inContact Advanced Chat for CXone
- NICE Nexidia Predictive Behavior Routing (PBR) for CXone (more on this below)
- AI-powered WFM Forecasting
- AI-driven Interaction Analytics and Insights
I spoke with Bauserman about these new announcements, as well NICE’s unified message around the NICE, inContact, and Nexidia portfolios. In this video interview, he also discusses NICE’s focus on Intelligence, Integrations, and Architecture.
I wanted to better understand NICE’s AI strategy and spoke with Eran Liron, EVP Marketing and Corporate Development. Liron provided examples of how AI is being used in NICE’s products, as well as how customers are using these capabilities.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a big part of NICE’s offerings, and one of the stars of the show was the embodiment of this – NEVA, or NICE Employee Virtual Assistant. At the analyst event, Oded Karev, VP, Head of RPA, gave an energetic presentation about how NEVA helps automate some agent tasks, while providing information to agents to help them be more effective while interacting with customers.
I got a great demo from Omer Fuchs, Head of Business Development and Strategy, Process Automation Solutions, showing how NEVA automates processes and tasks, helping agents become more productive and efficient.
If you prefer a better quality, more professional video, I recommend this YouTube video with Oded Karev.
Predictive Behavioral Routing
Perhaps the most interesting of all the demos and announcements was Predictive Behavioral Routing (PBR), based on NICE’s acquisition of Mattersight. PBR “connects customers with the best available agent for his or her personality, communication preferences and behavioral characteristics, powering more productive and positive conversations and call outcomes, and better customer and agent experiences.” PBR intelligently connects customers with the best employee based on personality, communication preferences and behavioral characteristics. Mattersight is now in the NICE Nexidia family and PBR is working with CXone to match each customer the agent best equipped to handle their personality style (note that PBR is vendor agnostic and can work with any ACD or call routing system).
When a customer calls in, PBR connects them to the right employee based on personality style, communication preferences, and behavioral characteristics. This can be done to optimize average handle time, customer effort time, customer satisfaction scores, NPS, FCR, sales effectiveness, customer churn, etc. The concept behind PBR is that people have different communication styles and can be paired with an agent best able to interact with them. NICE identified six styles – organizers, connectors, advisors, originals, doers, and dreamers. When a customer calls in, they go through a typical IVR process and the Mattersight system in the cloud looks up the caller in the world’s largest personality database. Using AI and a predictive model the system identifies which agent is the best fit for that caller, and the ACD routes the caller to the agent who is the best fit for the caller’s personality style. Matching callers to the right agent helps to reduce customer effort time, while improving CSAT, FCR, and sales effectiveness.
At the general conference, we heard from James Cave, Senior Director Omnichannel Customer Experience, Macy’s, who has been using PBR since 2017. Cave described how by using PBR, “Macy’s knows who our customers are and who to connect them with.” Since 2017, 44% of calls to Macy’s went through PBR, which reduced these calls by 55 seconds each, while resulting in a 5.5% productivity improvement.
I was very impressed with what I saw and heard at the event and believe that NICE’s embrace of AI and automation throughout its portfolio of CCaaS, WFO, and analytics is a strong differentiator for the company.
As an analyst, I go to events like this very frequently, and I’m pretty jaded when it comes to fancy visuals for keynote presentations. I have to give credit to NICE and its production department for a very impressive presentation by CEO Eilam. With the theme of Personal Connections Elevated, Eilam spoke from an elevated stage, with cool visuals that helped tell the story he presented.
Here’s a video of Eilam re-introducing NEVA to the audience.