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Beyond CCaaS + WFO to CXi
Four years ago, I took proverbial pen to paper to describe NICE and inContact’s vision for their recently combined entity, the CXone platform. CXone would ultimately combine cloud omnichannel routing, workforce optimization (WFO), analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) from the Amazon Web Services cloud. Last week, during an industry analyst summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, NICE’s CEO Barak Eilam introduced the company’s vision for the next five years: create frictionless experiences beyond the contact center, for a market they define as Customer Experience Interactions (CXi).
NICE CXone CEO Paul Jarman framed the terms from a branding perspective: NICE is the company, CXi comprises the market NICE is staking out with its solutions and CXone is a platform solution for the CXi market.
The graphic on top describes the components NICE defines as part of CXi. The original CXone platform included CCaaS, WFO and analytics. New in 2021 are self-service and digital . On the bottom, NICE demonstrates the technologies underpinning each of those components and shows that the CXone platform will continue to evolve to include serving these new functions, along with the initial ones, in an integrated way.
What does NICE mean by digital “across all doorsteps?” This term is key to the definition of the CXi market and how NICE is planning to transform it. “Across all doorsteps” is being used as a shortcut for the myriad of ways, other than interacting with a contact center, that customers can and will interact with a company, e.g., walking into a retail store, clicking on an ad in Facebook or liking a post on Instagram.
I’m reminded of a comment made by Chris Bauserman, vice president of marketing, NICE CXone, at the time of NICE’s acquisition of proactive conversational AI company ContactEngine. “Being digital is not just about supporting digital channels that reach an agent. It includes all the other touchpoints that a customer can use to reach out to a company to solve an issue,” he said. For example, Barak Eilam, NICE CEO, said last week, “Google is, believe it or not, the number one entry point to all self-service journeys. ” Today, how does a company help manage that journey for a customer?
Jarman expanded on the notion of CXi with a slide saying, “CXone is leaping forward and exceeding the boundaries of the contact center to intelligently meet customers wherever their journey begins, enable resolution through data driven self-service and prepare agents to successfully resolve any needs event (emphasis Jarman’s ).”
Jarman says digital interaction management is key because these interactions are catalysts for disruption in multiple ways. For the consumer, using a digital channel is a more natural way to accomplish what they need to do and resolve their needs . Examples of these new digital doorsteps are using a search engine, completing a task on a mobile app, and it could be an app. It could be a proactive experience they should have had based on the knowledge the company has, e.g., knowledge of an internet outage and expected time to repair.
NICE has strategically made acquisitions in the past year that add functionality to achieve the goals of CXi. MindTouch became part of a Digital Solutions business unit, headed by John Willcutts, that focuses on digital, knowledge, and self-service. NICE’s ContactEngine acquisition brought the company conversational AI to proactively engage customers on complex multi-touch journeys. NICE then launched CXone SmartReach to help companies automate multi-day, multi-channel conversations.
What does NICE defining a new CXi market mean to a buyer of contact center or workforce engagement management solutions? It depends on where the buying company is on their own digital transformation journey.
- For the existing CXone customer that has already deployed CCaaS and WFO, the new CXi market approach offers an alternative to the myriad of point solutions they may be using today to address digital engagement and a path to more proactive service and automation.
- For a company currently served by a premises contact center, CXi offers not just a cloud solution to solve the immediate issue of modernizing, but a roadmap for a digital engagement strategy that goes beyond today’s definition.
While it might be easy to compare NICE’s CXi to the Genesys notion of Experience as a Service (EaaS), laid out by the company at an analyst meeting in December 2019, NICE benefits from timing and market readiness. Everything about digital engagement and automation has changed post-COVID. Twenty months into a pandemic that dramatically changed the appetite of companies to offer digital and automation and consumer readiness to embrace it, NICE makes its announcement into a global economy much more ready to process CXi and its potential benefits.