BizTech BizTech Podcasts

50. What are the customer interactions of the future? with Guest Paul Jarman of NICE CXone

January 4, 2023

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Listen in to this special episode where we get an opportunity to speak with a long-time friend and pioneer in the contact center space, Paul Jarman, of Nice CXone. Paul talks business lessons, along with key paradigm shifts that have happened over the years all of which have created incredible opportunities in the contact center space more than ever before.

Transcript of episode can be found below.

Josh Lupresto (00:00):
Welcome to the podcast that’s designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering at Telarus. And this is Next Level BizTech. Hey everybody, welcome back. I’m your host Josh Lupresto here today. A lot of special stuff going on. We’re in the studio, as you can see. We’ve got a special guest. I’d like to welcome in here, Paul Jarman, CEO of Nice CXone. Paul, thanks for coming in.

Paul Jarman (00:29):
Hey, great. How you doing today?

Josh Lupresto (00:31):
I can’t complain. I could, but nobody would listen, so doesn’t matter. Hey, special special note today. This is a big deal. This is actually episode number 50, so appreciate you coming in, being here in the studio. You know, like we were talking earlier, you guys are a stones throwaway, so love that you could break away and get some time to come out here and excited to do this with you.

Paul Jarman (00:51):
Well, that’s great to be here. We’re practically neighbors and you got a great place here and a great studio. So it’s great to do the podcast with. Yeah.

Josh Lupresto (01:00):
So let’s talk about where we always like to kick these off. You know, you’ve been at this, you’ve built a, an incredible company, but I want to talk about you personally. You know, where, where was your background, how did you start this, and what was that journey like for you? Right? Did you, did you wake up and go, this is, I know what I wanna build, I know what it needs to look like, or was there a path that you took to get to where you were to start this?

Paul Jarman (01:24):
You know, it’s most good stories. This is over 25 years that we’ve been doing this, and as we began this, it was really, it started in a very different place. So really we started principally in telecommunications. Early on it was a little bit of b2c, and then it became more B2B telecommunications. And then about 2005, we really looked at the market and, and we said, you know, we can’t be that unique or special in telecommunications, but we could do something in software. And it was right about then we started to look at the opportunity for cloud software and in we did a small acquisition in 2006 of a company called My City. And that ended up being the very first piece to this puzzle that we started with that created this idea that we could provide cloud-based basically, you know, great software that people could use as a pay as you go service. And, and that started really combining that with our telecommunications that we had been doing for five or six years. And all that started in about 2006, but the company started back right before 2000. And as we, as we started to combine the software with the telecommunications, we started to really see a new growth pattern for us, which was what then became in contact. And obviously what now is NICE CXone?

Josh Lupresto (02:49):
Yeah, it’s been an interesting growth path. I, you know, I came into this space obviously knowing it as as in contact, but there’s been such a long history here where you guys have been such a great supplier, great partner. So it’s been cool to see it grow cool to see the partners get behind it, the channel get behind it, and it, it, it’s been fun, right? And excited for where the future goes of which we’ll get into here in just a minute. So let’s, let’s give a little bit of an overview for anybody that is not, you know, the whole goal of this podcast is to help partners step into a space either deeper if they’re in it already or if they’re selling something adjacent. So maybe just step back for a second as it stands right now, give us a little bit of an overview on NICE CXone.

Paul Jarman (03:31):
You bet. So when you, I’m gonna talk a little bit about the market first and then about CXone. And as you really think about what’s happening today, you know, the world’s changing. And, and in part of that changing of the world, one of the things that’s really different for companies now is that they’re really what I call entering the reference economy. And what I mean by that is, is that now most goods and services are driven and sold based on third party references. All of us, every day we go to a place, we look and see how many stars that product got, that book got that restaurant got that car got, or that service got. And based on these third party references, we are making most of our new purchasing decisions. So as companies reconcile to that change, they have to now really create a service model.

Paul Jarman (04:22):
And an experience that is, is, is seamless. It’s very customer friendly, it’s very successful and it supports those references. And so as you kind of look at the customer experience market today, the first thing we saw was this, this really reference driven economy. The second thing that’s really happening in our market today is this new drive to digital. And as you look at what’s happening with digital, it used to be we all call the TOLLFREE number. We got an agent, we had a conversation, hopefully it fixed our problem, maybe it didn’t. And all of a sudden that doesn’t really happen that much anymore. What’s really happening is we’re going on Google. We’re looking at a website, we’re searching for solutions. We’re going to apps and, and social media and other places to get answers to our questions or issues or problems that we have with a particular product or our company.

Paul Jarman (05:15):
And so as you look at the service market today, it’s now this cloud, it’s digital and it’s so important and so critical because it’s really what drives the brand. Branding is no longer company driven. It’s driven by the people that buy and reference around it. So as you look at what CXone is, is back, you know, 20 years ago we started in traditional telecommunications and then we started in basic, I’ll call it a ACD or customer service based on phones and tollfree numbers. And really where we’ve gotten to today is CXone is now a platform. It’s a set of multiple solutions that run on that platform, and it basically solves first all of the interactions that a company might have with its consumer, and then it solves the self-service parts to the interactions that might be needed. And then when it is a human that they’re interacting with either digitally or through voice, it solves all the tools that a company would need to help those agents to be successful. And then lastly, it provides really all the analytics that come behind it that help companies understand how they’re doing with their customers, how they’re doing with their business, how much efficiency they’re getting, and what else they can do to be more successful across all of their different touch touchpoints that they can measure success from.

Josh Lupresto (06:39):
It’s a great it’s a great example or a great story and I think we talk a lot about when we go do these academies and the trainings and all these different things for our partners, the one phrase that we always use is, you’ve gotta be able to you gotta be able to communicate with your end customers in the way that they want to communicate with you. And so we, we, we especially always get the partners that say, okay, I, I’ve learned these things. Where do I take this now? What, what questions do I ask? Where do I go? And, and so I think you guys have done a great job of recognizing that. And I want to, I want to jump into that a little bit about how you guys have kind of pioneered some innovation in this. And so, you know, looking at that, what do you kind of, how have you looked at the importance of innovation in this space? Cuz your point, right, you came from the telco space, the a c d to where it is now, all of the, the incredible tools that you guys have to interact. How, how have you viewed that importance of innovation and capturing that?

Paul Jarman (07:32):
You know, innovation has always been huge for us. And innovation can be in lots of things, right? It can be in service models, it can be in products, it can be in how we make and create technologies. And so we’ve always kind of felt like innovation’s a foundation of really everything we did across the business. And as you look at innovation today, it’s a couple of things. So first of all, we, we looked forward into the future and we said, okay, what’s likely gonna happen? You know, where is the customer experience gonna go? What’s it gonna be like? And then as we came backwards, we looked at the companies and we said, what’s keeping a company from doing it successfully? Cuz what we see as we look in the market and look work with so many different companies is most companies do it poorly. And, and the question is why?

Paul Jarman (08:16):
And as we, as we answer that question and we look at where the future is and the gap between those two, that’s a really fertile place to innovate from. And so we, we really looked at it on both sides. And then we’ve got really wonderful research and development teams, product teams, market research groups that have really helped us understand what’s necessary. Now, as you think of the innovations that we’ve done though, there’s a lot of different places. So the first thing is, is that we help to help those companies really have the width of the products and solutions and platform to manage the entire customer experience. We’ve really been been the first company that’s really said, let’s cover the entire width of a customer journey. And the second thing we’ve done is we’ve really said, okay, once we’ve been the first one to do the entire journey, and we can do it for small companies, medium companies, large companies, international companies, really any type of company, we then said, how can we be the first to really make it easy?

Paul Jarman (09:16):
And one of the big challenges in our market has been that it’s really been a market full of point solutions. Mm-Hmm. . So companies have just suffered because they, they buy 10, 12 point solutions, they can’t integrate ’em together, they can’t make them work together. It creates a choppy customer experience. And then all of a sudden they, they wonder, how do I get out of it? And so what we learned was is it wasn’t just enough to make it possible. We have to really put a lot of time and money into making it easy. And, and that easiness comes technically, it comes with service models, it comes with expertise but it all starts with creating a wide deep platform where they can get most of those tools they need from a single provider.

Josh Lupresto (10:03):
That’s good. I wanna talk about progression. So switching gears a little bit here, right, picking Paul Jarman’s brain building a business, what to our partners that are out there building businesses of their own, what, as you’ve built this up, what’s been kind of one or two of the most valuable lessons that, that you’ve learned in in growing a company?

Paul Jarman (10:27):
You know, that’s a great question and there’s lots of possible answers to that. I think, I think the first thing that I have always found is, is you’ve got to go find that real customer need. And, and then you’ve gotta understand that there’s a return for that customer when you solve it. So the first thing I think that a lot of people sometimes struggle with is, is really understanding what does my customer really need and how do I become really good at delivering it? And then doing it long enough that you become good at it. A lot of people fail because they aren’t patient enough or determined enough or have enough grit to keep keep the course even when sometimes it doesn’t seem easy. It might be their other ideas. And in that we, we do, I do agree you should change your ideas as you go, but only as you change what the customer’s looking for.

Paul Jarman (11:17):
And, and then the second thing I would say is, is it’s important to really think through deeply how you make money solving the problem. And so, you know, usually I see a lot of people struggle or fail when they haven’t really gotten the right vision as to what it is I can really help the customer do successfully. And then secondly is, is can I make money doing it? And, and those sound really basic, but it’s amazing. It’s good though, when you really step back and ask people those two key questions that they have really good understanding of those two answers. How many of ’em have just kind of been busy and they work and they work hard and they, they, they just kind of make stuff happen, but it doesn’t really be as strategic as it could. Yeah,

Josh Lupresto (11:57):
Great points. I love it. Very basic. There’s no shortage of ideas. There’s shortage of execution and what was it, Wiseman once said, don’t confuse activity with productivity

Paul Jarman (12:07):
. That’s right. Or results.

Josh Lupresto (12:09):
Yeah, exactly. Okay, let’s, let’s talk about your platform as it competes in the broader marketplace. What, what do you feel that are some of the, either the, the innovations or some of the differentiators, right? If the, if someone comes up to you and says, well, what do you guys differ against X and Y and z competitor w you know, we, what do you say as or if if you need x, you know, this, this piece of it where do you feel that in, you know, the nice InContact, NICE CXones really stands out?

Paul Jarman (12:41):
You know, it’s a great question. So, and, and, and to answer that question, you gotta ask, say what the platform is solving, right? And so cuz we have, we have different people in our market, we have CRMs we have competitors in what I call the ACD or the self-service or interaction management. And we have other people to the side of us that also do things like collaboration or pbx. So inside of kind of collaboration of PBX PBX on one side and on the other side, this idea of the CRM or the customer relationship management, in the middle, there’s the management of the interaction. So the first thing I would say is our first differentiation is, is that we can handle the entire interaction, the digital part, the website part, the Google part, the self-service part, the agent part, the digital part, the voice part, the proactive part, the reactive part.

Paul Jarman (13:32):
So the fact that they can come to one place and get all of that under a single brand on a single platform that works seamlessly together is huge. The second thing is, is that we’ve made it so that it can work for 50 seats, 20 seats or 10,000 seats. And so the ability for us to manage all types of enterprises from the small to the huge. The third thing is, is that it can work across the world. So we’ve made it so that the multinationals and so many different organizations all across the world can have 30, 40, 50 offices or contact centers all over the place. And it all works together. And so, so the first thing I would say is really the breadth, the depth, the international nature. And then when you really dive into each piece, and I could spend an hour or two with you here doing it and I won’t , but you know, you look at how we’ve integrated the digital with the voice and how we’ve integrated all of the agent performance tools with the omnichannel systems.

Paul Jarman (14:35):
And so you start to get to all these pieces, we’ve really created tremendous differentiation in, in innovation there. And then lastly I would say is, you know, our heritage from in contact now nice and the nice companies and the different piece pieces that NICE has had all along, we all of a sudden have this great power in data and the analytics and the machine learning and the AI that comes with that really is setting apart as us, apart as really the smartest platform in the market. And so it’s not just deep and and wide, it’s intelligent and that in intelligence is really a key step to the future of how you successfully do customer experience.

Josh Lupresto (15:16):
Great stuff. I want to, I wanna play on that a little bit of where you talked about the data that you have. I think that’s what’s part of how you’ve been successful is that you’ve been able to innovate and improve and see and hear what the customers are asking, what the sales folks are seeing, right? Firsthand what the trends are. I like to ask this question because when we get brought in, right from an engineering perspective, when we get brought in, generally it’s the customer has this problem or this one thing, or they’ve asked for this, this tool set, and I need to provide that tool set. Can you help me do it? And so that what we find that that journey generally then once we actually talk to the end customers, it doesn’t always look like what, what it looked like initially either they, they needed something totally different or they needed three or four different things because of how they needed it tied together. To your point, they had a lot of different solutions. So I’d love to hear it from your perspective, either anecdotally or just broad-based. You know, is there any trends that you’ve seen where they thought the outcome was this, that we, the customer thought their problem was this and we solved and in the end it actually looked like, you know, this solution that we put in place?

Paul Jarman (16:22):
You bet. So there’s, there’s a lot of answers to that. Sometimes they’re just coming to us saying, I need to save money, or they come to us and say, you know I just want this one thing. And, and really what we find is we dig in many times is what they initially thought was important was only kind of important. And as they kind of get to know what’s the power of a platform or the platform, they start to find additional solutions or they didn’t consider were possible or they start to hit new KPIs. They didn’t know it could be affected by something that they weren’t purchasing or they thought they didn’t quite understand. So I guess examples I would say sometimes we found people who wanted just a digital channel and then they’ve learned that their customers really want six or seven of ’em.

Paul Jarman (17:12):
And so they, they really widen out the digital channels. Other times we found people who thought, wow, I just am gonna schedule like this, but they realize with really good scheduling, they can transform the use of agents. Or I found people who, who thought they wanted this bot for self-service, but when they started to realize that it’s so much more than a bot, it can be proactive, you can do it on the website, you can create things through Google, they found a much more holistic self-service plan. That self-service could be a far more powerful tool than just, hey, there’s this little bot that does a couple of things on the side. And so usually that’s cuz they didn’t even know to ask the right questions as they were coming in to purchase the products. But as we started to get into their situation and we can give them more advice than they’d ask for in the purchasing process, we found a lot of richness in helping them succeed in a lot of ways they didn’t even think of when they started.

Josh Lupresto (18:08):
That’s good. Alright, so pro tips, sales tips. One of my favorite books out there that I read I is called Power Questions. And I, I think what, what that book taught me was, rather than going in with an agenda of what I think the customer needs or what anybody needs, I just, I ask questions, right? I either restate and these are, these are techniques that we always talk about, but really understand, I think you want to talk about this and I think there’s vested interest here in this, this issue or this problem. But is that what’s important to you is that what’s on your roadmap? Is that what’s immediate right now? So your advice for, let’s say partners that are in an adjacent technology, maybe I’m an MSP selling security and I’ve been contemplating going more into this. What’s your advice there or that partner’s talk track or just some of the questions that you’d recommend to get them to get their customers to think of them in that light, but now be able to do this?

Paul Jarman (19:00):
You bet. So, so first of all, I think a couple of questions that I have found, and I I do agree that questions are a key to the process. And, and so a couple things I would say is the first thing is, is don’t be so busy selling that you’re not solving. I continuously ask our sales organizations go solve don’t sell. Because in our world, solving is selling and and to solve, you first of all have to get into the questions and often they’re asking for something that isn’t really the answer. So the question really first is, I know you want this thing, tell me what it’s gonna solve and tell me what KPI you hope it moves when you solve it. And as you get a little deeper into those questions, you start to get a better idea of what it is you can actually solve it with versus what they might even be asking for.

Paul Jarman (19:53):
The second thing I have found in this market is customers might be looking for a product, but they really need, as a partner, they need someone that can hold their hand, stand with them and provide the expertise of, of the market and say, look, come with me and I’ll help you through this journey. And so it’s not just about buying another point solution, but let me help you really go through a journey that’s that’s iterative that gets you to the customer success that you’re hoping to achieve. And, and then I would just say lastly, I think a lot of people buy from people they like and people they trust and people that they think understand them. And so when you can be conversational, you can tell the good with the bad, you can ask great questions and you really become an expert in an industry, they will by far trust you more than if you just come in and say, here’s the features, here’s what I got, here’s what the price is, you’re gonna love it and good luck.

Josh Lupresto (20:54):
I love it. Great nuggets in there. Okay, we’re at the end. As we wrap this up, I would like to, if, if we had a crystal ball here, I’d say please look into your crystal ball and I, I think you’ve done a great job. We talked a lot about innovation of, of forecasting kind of where this thing goes. And you know, when we were recently out as a team to kind of look at the way that, that you view interactions of the future and all these different channels and all these things, it’s cool to see how far out you guys are looking, but I’m, I’m, I’m curious, we can use this broadly. As you look back out maybe let’s call it a year, two years, three years, where do you see the customer experience segment changing? Right? What, what do you see differently or, or do the products change or the customer needs change? Just, you know, any way you wanna take that curious what you think the next couple years look like.

Paul Jarman (21:43):
So, so first of all, the factors are really changing us will be digital, it’ll be self-service, it’ll be people looking for a much more personal experience and then really more than just an experience, a journey frankly. And so what I think is gonna happen is, is is is the industry and the consumer. The consumer first of all is gonna expect a very fast, personable and efficient way of solving problems. And they’re gonna want that in any form of interaction. They like all the way from digital to websites to search engines, to calling to all these different forms. So I think at the end of the day, what will happen is, is the consumer’s gonna demand this multi-channel, multi experience, optional way of solving problems. And then the company’s gonna say, I need to do all that, but I need to stay compliant. I needed to be efficient, I need it to be cost effective.

Paul Jarman (22:42):
And in the mixture of those two is where what we’re seeing is, is that companies will really have to change to make that possible. To get to what that consumer wants in this new world with the cost structure they have to do it in, with the security they have to do it in will be really tough. And so I actually think that in go a couple more years, you’ll see self-service become more popular. You’ll see digital be more popular and you’ll see customers expecting a more personal and seamless journey to solve their problems. And they want the company to feel interconnected and seamless to their experience. And companies are gonna all of a sudden start to say that’s possible. I can do that effectively as long as I use the right insights, machine learning, AI tools that can happen more so than it is happening today. So I don’t think the future changes a lot. I think that’s just speeding up to where it’s going and then the suppliers like us are getting much better at making that possible.

Josh Lupresto (23:44):
Awesome. Good stuff. Okay. That wraps us up. Paul, again, I appreciate you for coming in. Thanks so much for coming in to the studio here. And again, thanks for all the years of the partnership as well. Awesome. All right, everybody that wraps us up for today. I’m your host Josh, Lupresto SVP of sales engineering. We’re covering CX, the interactions of the future. Thank Paul Jarman for coming in so much today. Till next time.