CX through the eyes of an innovator: How industry trailblazers are using new CX AI technologies to transform their organizations

It’s often that you hear about the bad examples when it comes to customer experience: a chatbot gone wrong, an endless hold, a call being dropped. When you don’t hear about CX, that usually means it’s working. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make that happen. This is why we decided to pull back the curtain and shine a light on the people delivering exceptional customer experience. In NICE’s inaugural “The Room Where It Happened” video series we sat down with some of the industry’s top CX innovators to document how they are utilizing AI, digital and cloud technologies to transform CX.

As a part of the series, we interviewed Tom Laird, CEO of Expivia Interaction Marketing and Expivia Digital, Edmund Wong, director of corporate revenue optimization for Choctaw Casinos and Resorts, Kristina Heidesch, director of CEC systems, product services for Marriott, Sharon Gamble, customer service administrator for the City of Fort Worth, James West, business process analyst for the City of Fort Worth, Dan Miller, founder of Opus Research, Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, Barry Cooper, president of the CX Division at NICE and Einat Weiss, chief marketing officer for NICE.

Participants sat down to document their stories of CX success with tips for CX organizations looking for inspiration.

“Working for a company that is a market leader…we all carry this responsibility to really drive innovation forward,” said NICE CMO Einat Weiss.

Weiss said the pace of innovation that we are seeing in the CX industry is unprecedented.

“It never happened before. It never happened before in such a fast pace,” Weiss said.

She said AI is changing the game.

“Being able to allow organizations to finally use the data that they have across the board with AI to take decisions quickly and in an informed way and in such an accurate manner as well, is something that is just opening up so many opportunities to do so much more in CX,” Weiss said.

Weiss said she’s not referring to just any generic AI.

“We speak about AI that was created specifically for CX. It has no hallucinations. It is on brand and it is real.”

She said this isn’t just hype.

“I really feel that there's something that is really bigger than anything that we've ever done, just really providing both employees and consumers what they really want,” Weiss said.

To watch her full interview click here.

Marriott International CX leader says they’ve won the technology lottery with new CX solutions

Kristina Heidesch, the director of CEC systems, product services for Marriott International, said their decision to implement a cloud-based platform for customer experience changed the way the company looks at technology.

“It's made for a more exciting environment. Leadership is looking at, ‘Oh if you can do this, can we do this? Can we do that?’ They're more excited about what we're able to do,” Heidesch said. “It's becoming part of that story of we're changing, but we changed because we won the lottery. This is, we won the technology lottery and we're excited about it now.”

Heidesch said they moved onto the NICE CXone platform in 2023.

“We landed on NICE CXone solution for multiple reasons. One of them was it’s a one-stop-shop. NICE had all the solutions that we needed,” she said.

Read Marriott International’s case study here.

“Speed to market has been one of the bigger wins here. So, we're able to deliver results quickly rather than getting lots of different resources involved,” she said.

Heidesch is eager for what’s to come.

“I'm most excited about as it relates to AI, being able to create those automation pieces to make a seamless transaction for our guests, to be able to take it to the next level for a virtual assistant to be able to plan out your vacation,” Heidesch said.

To watch Heidesch’s full interview, click here.

“It is very humbling being innovators,” said Sharon Gamble, the customer service administrator for the City of Fort Worth.

Gamble and her colleague James West sat down in “The Room Where It Happened” to discuss how they’ve transformed their city government’s customer and agent experience. One of their biggest takeaways is that the transformation extended far beyond their department.

“We've improved vastly. We can take more calls and that's why other divisions are asking us to support them because we have this system that allows us to be better,” said Gamble.

Read their full case study here.

Gamble and West said they transformed the way they manage their CX workforce, leaving behind “the days of the spreadsheet,” now using automation to digitize their operations.

“The experience of working with CX and the automation behind it, the forecasting, being able to capture that information and use that to provide that scheduling without having to try and track it on spreadsheets,” said West. “It's amazing. It's absolutely amazing."

To watch their full interview click here.

“It's an understanding that the star is the guest, and you are just one of the contributors to how that guest experience looks like,” said Edmund Wong, the director of corporate revenue optimization at Choctaw Casinos and Resorts.

Wong said he was practically born in a casino, growing up in Reno, Nevada.

“So naturally as I looked at options for a career path to go, customer service was always part of it because hospitality is a direct contributor to that or vice versa,” said Wong. Growing up and now working in this world he said he has an accurate understanding of what it takes to provide next-level CX.

He also feels an acute responsibility in his current role within the Choctaw Nation. The impacts of what he does for CX are far-reaching.

“I think that's the biggest thing is that there's a bigger and better world that you're creating for other people and future generations as we call it. We have internal and external guests,” said Wong. “Your internal guests are everyone that's a tribal member. Your external guests are all your guests, casino goers, hotel goers.”

This is what sparked Wong to change things up within his organization and implement NICE CXone. He said they noticed several improvements as a result of implementation.

“So, the omnichannel component was crucial in being able to operate in this day and age. And without having a system that's able to carry us through that, we would've had to struggle and look at other solutions and be able to plug and play something else,” Wong said.

He said he’s excited for what’s to come in the industry.

“And I think the AI piece is huge and will be mind-blowing, will change the way we do business in the next five, six years,” Wong said.

To watch his full interview click here.

“So, the secret sauce, and I think that's probably not a bad analogy, it's how you use the data,” said Opus Research founder Dan Miller.

Miller has four decades of experience in the CX industry. He’s well-versed in the latest technology developments especially when it comes to CX AI.

“We did a survey in February asking decision makers how aware they were of generative AI, of conversational AI, and then how were they putting it to use? And what we got was a snapshot of companies that are deer in the headlight,” Miller said.

Miller said when you talk about AI in the context of CX, what we’re seeing now is the result of 50+ years of progress around neural networking, analytics, and intelligence search.

“When you apply that to CX, it's really redefined in people's minds what they're capable of doing. And that's redefined what self-service is because it truly is having resources that recognize your intent, understand it, and based on past performance, figure out the best way to resolve any issue, be it an employee or a customer is bringing up in the course of a conversation,” Miller said.

He said using data in the right way is key.

“And I think this is something that NICE understood before any of the other vendors out there is that the content of the conversations that companies carry on with their customers or prospects is just a very rich source of insights that can be applied to creating a better customer experience,” Miller said.

To watch his full interview click here.

“There's no question that AI really ratcheted it up and took it to a whole new level,” Donna Fluss said, talking about the transformative impacts we’re seeing with CX AI.

Fluss is the president of DMG Consulting, a vendor-independent contact center, front office and back office industry analyst and consulting firm. She has decades of experience in the industry.

“The call center is the heart. It is the heart and soul of the operation because we have our hands on the pulse of what's going on with customers,” said Fluss.

She said the amount of innovation that’s happened in recent years is tremendous.

“It's not innovation for the sake of innovation, it's innovation for the value, for the benefits that innovation can contribute to the operating department,” she said.

She said specifically that what is happening with the innovation around CX AI is exciting.

“In regard to AI, there's a lot of concern about the impact of AI, and there's no question that organizations have to use the right AI, they have to have the proper guardrails, but when used properly, it's an important enabler for these operating environments.” Fluss said. “When used properly, it really is a tool that will give the agents the ability to do what it is they signed up to do, which is to help customers, not to spend their time looking for information and writing summaries, but to actually, it frees them to spend their time engaging with and assisting and really making a difference to the customer.”

To watch her full interview click here.

Expivia CEO Tom Laird gives advice to BPOs struggling to make sense of AI

Laird had a very direct message to BPOs trying to figure out what’s next in the wake of artificial intelligence (AI).

“If I have to say something in ‘The Room Where It Happened,’ and I want to speak to all the BPOs out there, so many of the BPOs are struggling right now to understand what's happening in the space, to understand, they're scared, right? They're scared that AI is going to totally decimate their business. And I just want to say you don't have to be scared, but you have to change the model,” Laird said.

Laird said the technology is out there to do some pretty amazing things in CX.

“This is one of the best times to be alive,” Laird said during his interview.

Expivia is a long-time customer of NICE. Laird talked about how working with the industry-leading vendor has changed his contact center operations.

“The journey with NICE has been totally unique,” Laird continued, “I don't know how you could survive today with an on-prem solution. I can't fathom it.”

He said speech analytics has been the number one revenue generator for his business.

“We incent our associates and pay our associates off of sentiment. So, I can tell my clients 100%, we are treating your customers the right way. We're using the right words, the phrases that we're using, the tone that we're using is proper because they see these reports every single day on the tone and the sentiment of our agents,” Laird said.

Expivia Digital recently created an integration between CXone and Discord, enabling agents working in tandem with Azure-based listening bots to effectively moderate dozens of discussion channels across multiple servers simultaneously.

“We figured out a way of using virtual agents to close cases after every time somebody talks. So now we have full analytics on, so everything from trending keywords to sentiment scores, looking at the server overall, each channel and even to each specific community member,” Laird said. “So, building community profiles, understanding who the jerks are in your Discord, understanding who the great people are that we want to promote.”

Read the case study on this integration here.

He said recent advancements in the industry and technology have completely changed what it means to be a contact center.

“The best thing that I can say with how things are changing is we no longer call ourselves a contact center. I think saying that we just have agents that answer calls is totally wrong. We now have to become customer experience providers for our clients,” he said.

He said he’s got high hopes for the future.

“AI is great at analyzing. I want to be able to go in there and be like, ‘Hey, what were my service levels yesterday on these five products or these five skills? What were the lowest CSAT agents? And can you create some learning modules for these guys by 10 o’clock,’” he said.

You can watch his full interview here.

“We're able to launch products and capabilities in a matter of weeks when previously those things could have taken years,” said Barry Cooper, NICE’s president of the CX division.

Cooper said he enjoys hearing the reactions from NICE customers about what they can do with NICE’s technology.

“It’s great sometimes to meet with people that use our technology and innovation to say, ‘Oh my God, that was so amazing. That was so much fun, so much easier doing it this way. This is an incredible interface. I can get things done so much easier. That's actually fun.’ It is great,” Cooper said.

Cooper explained how Enlighten is leading the industry with its CX AI.

“Enlighten is trained on data from customer experience interactions. So, Enlighten knows what the best things to do are in every situation, the best things to say, the best actions to take, and that can be deployed either by a bot interfacing directly with a consumer or as guidance to an agent, making sure those agents can do more and more complex things that they couldn't do before,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he often gets questioned about how AI will impact jobs, specifically customer service agents. He said we’re absolutely going to need agents in the future.

“AI has got a massive place as the copilot to the agent to make them more effective,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he fundamentally cares about what NICE does.

“We're making people's lives more interesting and better because we are managing and optimizing the way that all of us interact with organizations,” Cooper said.

Cooper also gave his take on what’s to come.

‘What's next is massive adoption of hyper-intelligent technology that's going to help manage interactions between consumers and organizations, either with consumers interacting directly with bots that basically mimic the actions of the best agents and this world of agents who are absolute superheroes with deep experience and knowledge, solving the really, really complex problems, but supported by this ecosystem of AI solutions that allow them to be these kind of superhuman problem solvers,” Cooper said.

CX organizations across industries are reimagining what’s possible with new AI, cloud and digital technologies.

You can watch all of “The Room Where It Happened” interviews here.

For more insights, NICE’s new 7 Critical CX Trends for Your 2024 Strategy outlines what organizations can do in 2024 to capitalize on new CX technology and differentiate themselves from their competitors.