NICE inContact this week released the Spring 2019 version of its CXone cloud-based contact center software, with multiple artificial intelligence-powered updates for smarter customer and agent engagement, plus enhanced customer relationship management integrations.
NICE inContact CXone “is the most complete, unified, and intelligent cloud contact center platform available in the market,” said company spokesperson Cheryl Andrus.
“The capabilities announced in the Spring 2019 release continue to differentiate with the new end-to-end AI capabilities and the extensive CRM integrations available with Salesforce and all the other CRM applications,” she told CRM Buyer. “Some competitors have point solutions, whereas we are delivering intelligence across the full platform.”
NICE inContact CXone combines best-in-class omnichannel routing, analytics, workforce optimization, automation and artificial intelligence in one platform, the company said.
AI’s Role in CX
NICE InContact CXone Spring 2019 adds the following AI capabilities:
- NICE inContact Advanced Chat for CXone – an integrated chatbot that lets customers configure and deploy bots to perform common tasks, and offers easy options to transparently elevate interactions to agent-assisted chats. Optional AI services include Natural Language Understanding Classification and Sentiment Analysis, Natural Language Processing Entity Identification, Language Recognition and Sentence Similarity;
- NICE Nexidia Predictive Behavior Routing (PBR) for CXone, which connects customers with the best available agent for their personality, communication preferences, and behavioral characteristics using advanced algorithms that fine-tune the matchup based on the top business goal identified by contact center leaders — such as Average Handle Time or Customer Effort Time, for instance;
- AI-powered WFM Forecasting, which has a “best pick” option that considers more than 45 patented algorithms, seasonality patterns and trends to smooth out anomalies in scheduling; and
- AI-driven Interaction Analytics and Insights that identify sources of customer frustration and unresolved issues.
AI is “setting an entirely new standard of operations for a lot of organizations,” Andrus said. “The best experience that customers have is the lens through which they view every subsequent interaction, regardless of who it is with.”
That pits companies in any industry against each other and against companies in other industries in terms of customer experience.
“AI is fast becoming an important element of applications that support customer experiences,” noted Nicole France, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“It’s particularly useful in addressing routine, predictable activities,” she told CRM Buyer. “That includes helping customers to get faster answers to frequently asked questions. Anything that allows customers to get to what they’re looking for faster and more easily is generally a good thing.”
Contact centers “need to get customer interactions right and delight customers not just the first time, but every time,” Andrus said. “As consumer expectations increase and competition intensifies, the contact center’s margin for error shrinks.”
Eighty-three percent of customers who had exceptional experiences with a company were more willing to recommend it, Andrus pointed out, while 81 percent who had a bad customer service experience said they were very likely to switch to a competitor.
Customer service has the volume of data that has a consistent structure for AI training, so it’s “a great area for the application of AI,” observed Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.
“That said, delighting customers takes more than a pleasant bot experience,” she told CRM Buyer.
CRM Software Tie-In
The CXone Spring 2019 release includes deeper Salesforce integration. Other new and enhanced CRM integrations in the works will deliver a breadth of options for large and small organizations globally.
CXone Routing for Salesforce Digital Channels and New Packages for Salesforce add a global carrier-grade voice channel to Salesforce digital customer interaction channels, in addition to an intelligent routing engine. Agents will handle digital channels from within their familiar Salesforce interface.
Skills-based routing combines agent proficiency with customer attributes from Salesforce to find the best customer service agent for each interaction. This speeds up resolution of customer requests, reduces transfers of calls between agents, has options to provide higher levels of service to premium customers, and connects customers with agents who have the skillsets to resolve their particular problems.
Further, new CXone Packages for Salesforce extend the Salesforce Lightning Service Console with integrated workforce management, quality management, interaction analytics and customer feedback applications.
“The depth of our integration with Salesforce is unique because no other competitor is FedRAMP authorized, nor do they offer a workforce optimization integration with the CRM,” Andrus said.
CXone Spring 2019 also has new and enhanced prebuilt CRM integrations with the following systems:
- Oracle Service Cloud
- Microsoft Dynamics
Each integration will provide a unified desktop option between CXone real-time interaction handling, and the CRM software’s customer profile and case management, as well as bidirectional data synchronization.
“Integration is key,” Nucleus’ Wettemann said. “The No. 1 way to undelight customers is to ask them to repeat themselves, because you can’t track and inform interactions across multiple channels.”
Integration with CRM “is a strong trend we’re seeing across contact center and communication apps,” Constellation’s France noted. “It’s all about providing the relevant information, in context, to the right employees at the appropriate moment in time.”
One of the new AI-driven interaction analytics and insights features in the NICE inContact CXone Spring 2019 release is a patent-pending Frustration Detection feature that apparently identifies issues and agents that contribute to customer frustration.
Another is the Unresolved Issue Detection feature. This identifies contact types and agents that contribute to multiple interactions.
“Sentiment analysis isn’t new, but advances in AI training and processing speed mean we can — and should — get better at detecting frustration and addressing it,” Wettemann said. “Just acknowledging that a customer is frustrated can go a long way.”
However, “customer service agents are already under a high degree of surveillance,” France said.
Used appropriately, monitoring can be helpful in training, but “using AI to identify, among other things, individual agents who may contribute to customer frustration compounds the potential for misuse,” she cautioned.
There is a strong link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, France pointed out. “If anything, adding to the Big Brother surveillance approach with new AI tools is more likely to put off the very agents you most want to keep — those focused on doing the right thing for customers.”