CXone on One with Andy Traba

CX One on One with Andy Traba

In our new “CX One on One” series, we will meet dynamic and talented team members behind the scenes at NICE representing all the facets of the world’s #1 cloud native customer experience platform. We recently sat down with Andy Traba, Vice President of Product Marketing. He discussed how zip-lining through the Mayan jungle reminds him of new advances in artificial intelligence, why generative AI has caused a dramatic shift in how both brands and consumers view AI as a must-have and he called out the industries that could do more to elevate the customer experience.

Andy Traba says parenting and personalizing the customer experience are more alike than people may realize.

He sees the similarities in raising his 10-year-old twins, Maia and Maddox, who show him how they are unique—and in what ways they require a high level of personalization from him as a parent.

“When we think about customer experience, there is a definite parallel with being a twin dad,” Traba said. “Maia and Maddox have a common bond yet they’re completely separate people with different personalities. I need to tailor my communication with them. For me, it really highlights the whole aspect of personalization and the need for the customer experience industry to understand people and how they have unique preferences, unique demands.”

With artificial intelligence advancing quickly, Traba and his team are actively developing unique digital-first, AI-powered personalization solutions to help organizations meet expectations for personalized experiences and seamless and customized experiences that leave a lasting impression. In 2004, he started his customer experience career with Mattersight (which became part of NICE five years ago), serving in various leadership positions during his tenure.

CXone on One with Andy Traba - Andy Traba Zip Lining

Zip-lining in the jungle of artificial intelligence

A vacation spent zip-lining through the Mayan jungle is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for Traba—while serving as a reminder of familiar terrain he’s traversing daily.

“I was struck by how much zip-lining through the incredible Mayan jungle resembles the current AI landscape,” Traba said.

Hear him out and he’ll take you there with him.

“Like navigating the dense, tangled vines and towering trees of the jungle, traversing the AI landscape requires agility, adaptability and the willingness to embrace the unknown,” Traba said. “To succeed, it’s necessary to embody the spirit of a true explorer and harness the power of AI to propel ourselves forward.”

If AI is a jungle, consider NICE as your guide to anticipate the future.

AI helps curate the data so companies can turn insights into results in real time. This can give customer service agents the information they need to pinpoint opportunities and make decisions, elevating both the customer experience and agent experience. With the right tools, a seamless customer service experience can be built on a foundation of data, not guesswork, and provide the ability to grow and pivot based on customer needs.

“The rapidly evolving customer landscape demands smarter data and enhanced experiences for consumers, making it critical for organizations to leverage AI to meet customers at the start of their digital journey and fulfilling their growing need for instant gratification,” Traba said.

How do Traba and his team keep up with the fast pace of innovation? Living and breathing tech is their M.O.

“It’s something we would be following even if this wasn’t our job,” Traba said. “If you liked sports, you would keep up with the latest scores or if you liked music or theater, you would be in tune with that. I think we’re just naturally in tune with technology and what’s going on in that space so that makes keeping up a natural progression.”

GPT – how generative AI is making an impact

One could break down the discussion over artificial intelligence in two buckets: Before GPT and After GPT. Now, artificial intelligence has evolved into a must-have.

“Customers and brands alike used to consider artificial intelligence a ‘nice to have’ or too futuristic,” Traba said. “Well, that’s certainly changed with GPT on the scene. I think GPT has flipped the switch on the mindset to be, ‘OK, it's arrived.’ This is a new world because so many people have interacted with it, been impressed with it and we’re seeing a shift in potential of what’s capable of being done.”

Traba says the shift is starting to reveal itself as the technology accelerates to become more conversational, something NICE has helped to introduce with the industry’s first, AI-powered solution to provide intelligent responses to inquiries using generative AI.

Just as the potential of GPT is emerging, so too are its limitations.

“I've always reinforced when talking about AI or machine learning it’s a garbage-in, garbage-out model,” Traba said. “The data sets have to be on-point, or the result is going to be the ‘hallucinations’ GPT users are finding from time to time.”

Discussion over GPT’s so-called “hallucinations,” or the term given to a generation of AI outputs that are unreliable or factually incorrect, will continue to mar the new technology’s reputation as long as it causes misleading responses.

Traba explains that GPT is a model that’s programmed to generate language based on past information so if it doesn’t have access to the relevant information or data—it’s going to be forced to make things up.

“Where I think new large language model (LLM)-driven chatbots have potential in our space is two-fold. We have access to really specialized proprietary data, billions of interactions, about customer experience with brands,” Traba said. “Second, the way that we’ve analyzed all of that data to create these very standardized and labeled data sets. For example, the way that we’re analyzing sentiment for a bank is going to be stored in the same data structure as a healthcare industry client—along with customers representing every industry.”

That holistic vision is how customer experience will ultimately benefit from the new technology, he added. Pooling such data will enable a company in one industry to better measure customer sentiment relative to its competitors, or pinpoint where it’s overachieving to rank #1 in its industry and should continue to invest.

“We can think about how CXone is growing as all of that data that it has is going to unlock more macro cross-industry trends,” Traba said. “Of course, that’s valuable for the businesses, but it’s also going to be valuable for the consumer as it leads to more competition, and a heightened customer experience as brands race to outperform each other on CX.”

CXone on One with Andy Traba - Andy Traba Family

If you weren’t in CX …

We asked Andy Traba what he would be doing if he weren’t in the customer experience industry.

His immediate reply: “Can I have superpowers?”

And then the sports fanatic shared his dream job.

Traba, who grew up in Chicago and currently lives there, quickly responded he’d like to be the quarterback for the Chicago Bears and take them all the way to the Super Bowl.

Which industry could be doing more with AI

With so much possibility and potential available to brands to transform customer engagement with brilliantly human self-service, which brands need to do a better job of seizing the moment?

For further insight, we posed the question to Andy Traba.

“Financial services," he notes, "are sitting on a goldmine of data. Yet, when we consider which industries are at the forefront of AI adoption, financial services surprisingly trails behind. The current distress in the banking sector underscores the urgent need for evolution and transformation to better meet business goals."

For example, a personal banker at a financial institution can leverage a customer’s data, preferences and goals to perfect a financial strategy to help customers grow their wealth yet that’s not happening at the rate it could be.

There’s even been headlines about GPT being able to choose future high-performing stocks better than humans.

Another big opportunity for improved customer experience is in healthcare. There is a growing demand for modern healthcare today and in the near future. Of the estimated 73 million baby boomers, all of them will be at least 65 years old by 2030.

“I can envision AI playing a larger role in helping to cure disease, prolong life—and more. I would bet meaningful money on that happening in the future,” Traba said.

Future of the contact center

Artificial intelligence is transforming the customer experience as well as the agent experience. Just don’t underestimate the enduring need for contact centers, Traba says.

“Artificial intelligence enables brands to augment the experience for customers from beginning to end while reserving those more high-touch interactions for agents skilled in empathy,” Traba said. “The analogy I use is the contact center is really headed the way of an Apple Genius Bar on steroids.”

Customers who have an issue beyond what the capabilities of AI can handle will need to talk to an expert agent who can more immediately help them reach resolution, Traba explains.

“The contact center will be the ‘place’ where you can have productive time with an expert who can solve your problem,” Traba said. “That's the direction I see the contact center evolving. I really hope we call agents some form of ‘expert’ in the future. And AI will enable agents to stay at the forefront of the evolving landscape and grow alongside it.”

Let NICE be your partner in next-level AI transformation

NICE CXone enables the hyper-personalization that Traba’s talking about—capturing each business’s persona, every nuance of each business’s language, every common or customized business need. First to market in leveraging the latest in artificial intelligence, NICE offers the following solutions:

NICE Enlighten AI - Turns customer service into a powerful competitive differentiator with a suite of innovative CX solutions. Enlighten AI also helps agents positively impact customer satisfaction with real-time guidance on the behaviors needed to achieve their goals.

NICE Enlighten XO - Streamlines self-service applications by automatically generating insights from human conversations using advanced AI to build smarter self-service. Powering up self-service by using continuous insights from conversational intelligence allows brands to transform insights into action.

Enlighten Actions - Unleashes unprecedented power to orchestrate your CX business, proactively uncovering areas for AI-driven optimization and carrying out complex automation to accelerate execution for all CX leaders.

Enlighten Copilot - Centralizes conversational AI assistance that promotes smarter guided interactions, AI-driven personalized coaching, and task automation opportunities, creating better agent and supervisor experiences.

Enlighten Autopilot - Creates fully personalized experiences with new consumer-facing conversational AI solution based on trusted company knowledge, aligning responses with business goals.