When it comes to digital transformation, many will be surprised to know that the word “Digital” is not the most used word by NICE’s General Manager of Digital, John Willcutts. Nearly every conversation Willcutts has is instead laser-focused on CXi (customer experience interactions), what he calls the driving force behind digital. With Willcutts helping to lead the charge, NICE’s digital strategy is all in for CXi, the blueprint for brands to deliver seamless CX in the digital era.
As the world has transitioned into this new era, consumers expect more. Picture this: a banking customer is having an issue with their account and uses the chat on the bank’s website to resolve the issue. The customer wants their problem handled in the moment and with as little friction as possible. Brands are expected to deliver the right answer at the right time across any digital touchpoint. It’s never been more important to meet the customer wherever they are in their journey — including picking up in the middle of a previous interaction without missing a beat. Asynchronous communication has become the norm in our lives: it’s imperative that self-service can rise to this same level.
“We are building a world that is massively asynchronous,” Willcutts said talking about his vision of the world in the coming years. This is also the bread and butter of CXi. Willcutts said he’s been preparing for this for much of his career. Willcutts served as the CEO of Nexidia, a leading provider of advanced customer analytics, until Nexidia was acquired by NICE in 2016.
“Think about the chat that you have going on with your family, right this second, you might not have looked at it in a week but if you messaged in it today you would know whom you’re talking to and what you want to do. I envision the future of customer service to work in the same way,” Willcutts continued. “There’s always someone there who knows the context of the relationship, that’s ready to answer the question or solve the problem, and that’s the goal.”
The real power behind achieving this, Willcutts said, is AI. When Nexidia merged with NICE in 2016, this created a customer analytics powerhouse. Analytics underlays everything that NICE does. NICE’s purpose-built AI is trained on trillions of recorded digital interactions. AI helps train not only agents to better handle customer interactions but also bots. The goal: create a level of understanding and interaction that is high quality, regardless of whether it is human-led or bot-lead. With AI, chatbots are trained to understand and respond to any customer need exactly as a human agent would.
Let’s go back to the banking customer referenced earlier: When the customer is chatting with a chatbot, a CXi-fluent bank would have the customer data necessary to pinpoint and resolve the customer’s issue immediately. A CXi fluent bank can take it one step further, however, enabling chatbots to not only solve simple customer issues – like reporting current account balance – but also more complex financial issues that previously would have required a human agent, with all the hurdles and hold music such interactions often entail.
“Until you recognize that your data is the most important piece, the missing piece in your AI strategy, then you’re never going to achieve CXi fluency,” Willcutts said, adding that data is at the forefront of everything NICE does. Brands that are CXi fluent have built a solid foundation from rich data, informing and drastically improving every touchpoint throughout a customer journey. This is also ultimately how Willcutts said brands will build customer trust in the digital era: better data can better train nearly every facet of CX.
Another major part of NICE’s CXi success comes from its suite of best-of-breed applications built on a cloud-native platform. Putting all the data on one platform eliminates siloes and makes it easy to share data across teams. With a holistic view of every customer, throughout every phase of their journey, generates actionable insights that propel brands to deliver top-notch CX.
“The key to mastering CXi is having all your actions in one place. CCaaS is at the heart, and from there it is essential to make sure all digital channels are on the same platform.” Willcutts said. By integrating every entry point and providing AI-powered self-service interactions for customers when and where they need it, high-quality CX can now be realized far beyond support interactions and utilized by every department in an organization. This brings Willcutts to the final integral piece of CXi. He said it is essential for brands to choose a robust and proven vendor that can carry the brand into the digital future. This is particularly pertinent for brands as they head into an uncertain year and are focused on projects and improvements that are immediately actionable and have strong ROI.
“Brands must ensure viability of the vendors they speak with,” he said.
Willcutts said NICE has cultivated a culture of innovation and winning. This is driving record adoption of CXi across the market. Though CXi encompasses many different facets to orchestrate seamless CX, Willcutts said the underlying goal is not complicated.
“What does success look like? Five years from now, have we delivered a world that’s made it easier for brands to manage their contact center, and have we delivered a massive number of asynchronous conversations so that somebody is always there to help you no matter what the solution is, what time, day or night?” Willcutts said. “That’s the goal. It’s that simple.”