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What to Expect at NICE’s Interactions Live 2022 Event

Denis Putilov Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

Image: Denis Putilov - Alamy Stock Photo
NICE Interactions 2022 is set to take place from May 24-25, and by the contact center providers' estimates — it's going to be the biggest one yet. Last year, NICE reported over 20,000 attendees at Interactions 21, and it has steadily increased over the years. And for this year's event, NICE expects to host over 25,000 attendees during its two-day virtual event.
 
So, what’s the draw? NICE is a CCaaS leader, and the sector has been attracting a lot of attention. We have seen several new providers enter the space, and there’s tremendous interest from organizations in anchoring their digital transformation strategies around the customer experience. Many people are also interested in what NICE communicates as its priorities.
 
This year, the conference features a broad agenda, including 50 best practices sessions on topics such as mastering digital interactions, journey orchestration, and agent empowerment. In many cases, these sessions are hosted by NICE customers like Disney Streaming Services, Verizon, Honeywell, and Kroger.
 
A main draw will also be the keynote speakers, which include the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush and Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker George Clooney, in addition to NICE’s CEO Barak Eilam. (Yes, Barak and Bush together at last). Bush and Clooney may be political opposites, but they found some common ground over the past few years. Many expected Clooney to run for President, but he indicated last Fall that would rather have a “nice life.”
 
I am particularly interested in the virtual reality (VR) technology. It’s a virtual track within Interactions where attendees will don an Oculus Quest 2 headset for networking and gameplay (with prizes). I’ve been tinkering around with VR since Google Cardboard, but the Oculus Quest is the device that’s triggered my imagination. So far, my experiences have been fun and games, so I am intrigued by what NICE has up its virtual sleeve. There’s no doubt a real opportunity in VR, and I’m anxious to see what types of customer experiences will be had in the “NICEverse.”
 
Interactions will also include a virtual expo hall with premier sponsors, including Atos/Unify, Google, and Verizon. Other notable sponsors are Nuance, Omilia, Servion, and RingCentral.
 
That’s the program from a high level, which is all that’s been disclosed. The rest of this post offers predictions and expectations for Interactions 22.
 
NICE uses the words “effortless” and “frictionless” frequently but not as synonyms. CCaaS is all about the customer experiences, but we tend to blur the contact center as a customer with the experiences that contact centers provide.
 
When the company talks about effortless experiences, it is referring to streamlining its customers’ processes. This includes partners and organizations that deploy NICE products, such as CXone. When NICE talks about frictionless, it’s about the experience of the contact center’s customers. Both are important, but they clearly have different needs and desired experiences.
 
The contact center is undergoing significant technical changes, and simultaneously, contact center customers want everything to be easy. As customers, we no longer tolerate repeating ourselves or inefficient, frustrating experiences. I know that I’m quick to tweet my customer service frustrations.
 
Eliminating the friction is a prerequisite to effortless experiences. NICE is reducing friction by intending to introduce new capabilities without increasing the complexity. Contact center solutions can be very complex and actually obstruct brand loyalty. The answer, according to NICE, is its Customer Experience Interactions (CXi) framework.
 
NICE introduced CXi last fall, so I expect it will be the center of the conversation at Interactions. CXi was intended to streamline new CCaaS capabilities without increasing or even decreasing overall complexity. I expect an update on CXi with additional insights from customer implementations.
 
CXi allows an organization to meet its customers wherever their journey begins. Contact center traditionalists will say the customer journey begins when a toll-free number is dialed, but today, it’s more likely the customer journey begins from a Google search or other Digital entry point. NICE calls these “digital doorsteps” into the contact center. The vision of CXone is to manage interactions across every consumer touchpoint, including the digital doorsteps and phone calls, and provide a responsive or proactive experience.
 
For example, regardless of which channel a customer may select for an interaction, should the call require an agent, CXone presents customer context sentiment and conversation history in a Customer Card. This data can be integrated with the automatic call distribution (ACD) and external systems such as a CRM. CXi can also be used with digital-only and digital-first implementations. It leverages the data across all of the digital touchpoints that customers use.
 
“Journey” is another word I expect to hear a lot at Interactions. NICE has been very innovative with regards to customer journey analytics and customer journey mapping. The goal is to help its customers understand how their customers flow through various touchpoints. The more visibility across the entire journey enables a more accurate portrayal of the customer’s actual experience.
 
Earlier this year, the company named Elizabeth Tobey as the head of digital marketing, digital solutions for NICE. Tobey has a diverse marketing background, which includes multiple awards for viral and engagement marketing. Presumably because digital is overtaking everything, she reports directly to NICE CMO Einat Weiss — rather than into the digital solutions business.
 
Most of the CCaaS providers are expanding services into one or more adjacencies. NICE is one of the few CCaaS providers that expanded from workforce optimization (WFO) into CCaaS with its 2016 acquisition of inContact. Prior to launching its CXi framework, NICE made two acquisitions last year: MindTouch to accelerate its digital solutions for knowledge management and self-service and Contact Engine for multi-touch journeys.
 
NICE is taking a very broad approach to customer engagement, and the same can be said about Interactions. The CXi framework spans WFO, CCaaS, analytics, AI, and other digital service tools. I should also highlight that Interactions will feature two masterclasses: TikTok dancing with Derek Hough from Dancing with the Stars and a cooking course with celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli. The point presumably is that providing excellent customer experiences requires depth and broadness.
 
Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

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