• June 6, 2023
  • By Chris Cronis, Managing editor of CRM magazine

NICE Proclaims a New Era of AI in Customer Service at Interactions

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Customer service today is in "the early stages of a seminal new technology wave unlike any we've seen before," NICE CEO Barak Eilam said today in the keynote that opened his company's Interactions user conference in New York.

AI "holds in its powers the opportunity to solve all of our current challenges in one giant swoop," Eilam said to the crowd of about 1,500 attendees. "It is a technology super-wave of far-reaching consequences that will make the achievements of past technology waves pale in comparison, for the world as a whole and for the CX space in particular."

It was a bracing moment, as Eilam had already run through the implications of past leaps in technology: computer hardware in the 1970s, software in the 1980s, the internet in the 1990s, and mobile and cloud computing over the past decade and a half. The last two especially have had an enormous impact on the customer service industry, he said.

The changes have come as the volume of customer interactions grew a hundredfold in the past 10 years, with customer experience complexity on track to increase tenfold every five years.

Yet despite that rise in volume and complexity, service organizations have essentially kept the same number of employees today as they did 10 years ago, and only 20 percent of service operations had even started their native cloud migrations, Eilam said. Those factors, along with AI, are creating a sink-or-swim scenario for CX organizations, he added.

While artificial intelligence has been on the public's radar for decades now—Eilam noted the early milestones of IBM's Big Blue defeating chess grandmaster Gary Kasporov and Watson's success on TV quiz show Jeopardy!—AI's recent leap has taken even technologists by surprise. "It took us roughly 30 years to just get it to an effective 'learning-to-read' stage," Eilam said, comparing it to an elementary school pupil's progress. "However, the remarkable thing is that AI has accelerated through to its 'reading- to-learn' stage in a mere few months"

And the momentum won't stop there. "I have no doubt that AI will get to a stage of being able to prompt itself," he added, "and potentially, start working in AI communities with [their] own hierarchies. Scary"

That note of caution aside, Eilam is bullish on AI's immediate implications for customer service, likening AI to a 'CX alchemist conjuring up a completely new world of possibilities of how technology and customer service can be melded together."

To further demonstrate NICE's belief that AI is the most influential tech innovation in a long time, Eilam unveiled extensions to NICE's generative AI tool, Enlighten, which is built on hundreds of billions of service interactions of all types, he said.

The extensions, announced earlier today, include Enlighten Copilot, which provides real-time assistance and personalized coaching to contact center agents; Enlighten Autopilot, a customer self-service tool that "acts as your best and most trusted employee, creating fully personalized experiences"; and Enlighten Actions, a ChatGPT-like tool that can perform complex analytical operations in minutes rather than days, Eilam said.

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