A Q&A with Barry Cooper, NICE's CX Division Head

Article Featured Image

Barry Cooper, president of the CX Division at NICE, gave a far-reaching interview with CRM at the NICE Interactions 2024 conference in Las Vegas, answering questions on everything from expected company growth to the evolution of artificial intelligence to the impact of AI on the contact center workforce.

CRM: You said during your keynote that the company had added 1,000 customers since last year's conference. Can NICE maintain that kind of growth trajectory?

Cooper: Absolutely. The growth is at many different levels. The trajectory is increasing. Percentage-wise, it may decrease, because as the base becomes bigger, mathematically, the percentage decreases. But we fully expect every year to add between 1,000 and 1,500 customers. Part of that is that we are offering digital channels and self-service channels on top of the traditional voice.

CRM: What about growth of the company through acquisition?

Cooper: We made two acquisitions last year, VoApps and LiveVox. Our [mergers and acquisitions] pipeline is very full.

Right now, we're doing due diligence in a couple of different places. We're acquisitive, but we're acquisitive in a very strategic manner. Our strategy is to manage and optimize all the ways that consumers interact with organizations. We're looking for all kinds of different things--sometimes technology, sometimes customer bases, sometimes talent and people, sometimes partner bases.

CRM: AI was a central theme for NICE Interactions and many other conferences. But some AI still provides inaccurate information. So what is the reality with the benefits of the technology?

Cooper: AI is only as good as the data is trained on. Microsoft co-pilot and some others are trained on the internet. There are times the requested information is not there, so many of these AIs are programmed to make stuff up to fill in the gaps. This is completely different from what we do. Our training data is not the internet. It is CX interaction, transcriptions between consumers and organizations, their agents, or their bots or their services, married with knowledge bases from a particular organization. If our AI doesn't know the answer, it says it doesn't know.

And our co-pilot application supports the agent, not just with the facts, but if we know the sentiment of the customer, we can change the tone of what they're typing back. If the customer is angry [for example] we will use an apologetic tone; if we detect the customer is open to being sold to again, we can use a sales pitch in presenting the facts [answer].

CRM: So your AI includes sentiment analysis?

Cooper: Absolutely. This is where Enlighten began. The very first Enlighten model we went to market with was the sentiment model. One of our acquisitions a few years ago was Satmetrics, which is now embedded within CXone. It would survey interactions to receive [net promoter scores]. Hundreds of millions were service calls, which allowed us to teach a sentiment model.

We compared manual surveys with surveys from Enlighten. The correlation was almost perfect.

So, rather than getting NPS scores on only 10 percent of surveys, which can be biased, our sentiment analysis is based on 100 percent of interactions. And we can do that in real time.

CRM: Companies using AI, robotics, or other automation say the technology enables employees to perform higher-level tasks, but at a certain point, don't you need fewer employees?

Cooper: At one end of the funnel of interactions, simple AI can handle simple interactions. And clearly the complexity of the interactions that AI can handle is moving. But more interactions keep coming into the funnel. We don't go into the stores anymore, so many of those face-to-face interactions have gone virtual. Add to that the fact that there are many digital economy companies today that only exist on apps. And those apps handle all the easy stuff. If you can't get the answer to what you want through the app, you're calling in. New things are being added to the funnel all of the time. So we still need people for the stuff that continues to grow.

The characteristics of those people will change. They will be doing much tougher things. So organizations will be paying agents more, and those agents will come in with more qualifications.

CRM: Will companies actually be willing to pay agents more?

Cooper: Yes. The economics will change. Companies will save money on the interactions done with automation. More money will be spent on agents to do more complex things. That will be funded by savings from automation and savings from real estate no longer needed because less things are done face-to-face.

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues

Related Articles

NICE Shows the Benefits of AI-Driven Tech at Interactions Event

Artificial intelligence embedded across NICE's products has already led to great results for the company and its customers, Barry Cooper said at a Day 2 keynote during Interactions 2024.

Buyer's Guide Companies Mentioned