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Ep. 108 AI Overload: The Mind-Blowing Ways Artificial Intelligence Elevates CX! with Sam Nelson

March 13, 2024

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Today on with us is Sam Nelson, VP of the CX practice, coming to you from the Telarus Studio as we roll into 2024. Sam brings in some exciting things already happening with AI and CX deep down the productization path. We talk about how to layer in expertise and products around a modernized contact center and a legacy contact center. The great thing is that it doesn’t matter which they are in, there are options to wedge in and help with both. Don’t miss as AI is what the customers are asking about and tasked to figure out!

Telarus Everybody, welcome back. We’re here on an episode launched, believe it or not, in season three. Can’t believe we’re here. We’re in the studio today. We’ve got Sam Nelson with us. Welcome, VP of CX atTelarus Thanks for coming in. Thank you for having me. Sam, we’re going to talk a little bit about AI. Today’s title, I know this AI gets people excited, but today’s title is the AI Overload Mind Blowing Ways That Artificial Intelligence Elevates the CX. Awesome. I know you got a lot of good ammo. I do. It’s going to be so great. Nobody’s talking about AI. Nobody wants to hear about it. It’s old news, right? No, absolutely. That was so yesterday. Yeah, tomorrow it’s a different AI topic.

Okay, so we had you on. For anybody that hasn’t seen it, go back and watch lots of good stuff. We got into your backstory. We covered a bunch of different things. So I want to talk about a key lesson learned. I’m a big proponent of let’s look back. Let’s listen and hear things that other people have learned along their journeys along the way. So whether it’s a mentor, a boss, whatever, a mistake that you made, just kick us off with a valuable lesson that you’ve learned along your journey. I actually saw a saying a while ago that has been a really great North Star for me. And that saying is simply decide what kind of life you really want and then say no to everything that isn’t that. And I know it sounds kind of cliche, really, really simple, but the honest truth is, hey, like, as an example for our technology advisors, if that’s something you want, great. But if it gets in your way and that’s not part of your plan, don’t do that. Right. And I think a lot of times we tend to overcomplicate things like, oh, I need to learn everything about artificial intelligence in order to sell it. The reality is I’m never going to want to do that. OK, so don’t do that, but be dangerous enough to sell it. Right. Little things like that. Yeah, it’s a good point. I think society conditions you that know is bad. Right. And we’re people pleasers. We want to help. We want to do these things. But the reality is each of us is only one person. So say no to the things that you want to say no. And then you’ll be really, really good at the things that you say yes to. Right. Exactly.

All right. So so let’s fast forward. Let’s talk about in your role, VP of CX practice here at Tularis. So you’ve got strategy. We’re talking about twenty twenty four. We’re doing all this planning. If you look at the businesses, how does a business look at A.I. in twenty twenty four? Oh, it’s a big part of A.I. I think right now we’re in this phase of people looking at A.I. It’s the shiny new object and they’re just not sure what to do with it. They’re not sure of its capabilities, how it applies to them. And so I believe that we are in the stage now of clarifying what exactly that is as it applies to the business, because you’ve got things like chat GPT that have come out in the last year. That’s now a big part of everybody’s lives. We’ve called a lot of attention to artificial intelligence, but the reality is you’ve got these business owners who are like, OK, well, how do I how do I do that? Right. And it’s up to us and the community to teach these and customers of, OK, here’s exactly how it applies based on your objectives, working your way backwards and just clarifying where A.I. really truly makes an impact. Right. Whether that’s in simplifying and automating mundane tasks all the way to conversational A.I. where an actual kind of bot takes over the full conversation. So many different use cases. Right. So right now that’s the stage we’re at. I would think over this next year, it’s going to take a long time to do something like that, getting people out of kind of the old ways of thinking and into how can something like A.I. actually benefit my organization versus replace humans, which it’s certainly not.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, you bring up a good point. I think it’s up to us and it’s, you know, by proxy, right, to the partners to help the businesses understand how to distill A.I. down and how this is a product and how it can help them. So we’re going to get into some more of those. Let’s actually jump right into that right now. So let’s look at we’ve got two things here. We’ve got old school, non-modernized contact center. And then over here, we’ve got a modernized contact center. So how do you see in either of those? What do you see as the first way? If I’m a partner that has either one of these customers, what is a way right now that A.I. could potentially impact the customer experience in those? There are a lot of different ways. And the good news is whether a customer has old school technology or new school technology, A.I. can have a very similar impact regardless of what is actually underneath the hood. And that’s the good news is that A.I. solutions, especially in the customer experience space, can sit right on top of whatever a customer is using, whether that’s on-prem, in the cloud, doesn’t matter, right? Some even are just standalone solutions that customers can take advantage of. And so with regards to the customer experience, I may be a customer calling in and having a conversation with a bot, but I have no idea that they’re using some old on-prem stuff that’s been around for years.

Or if they’re using the latest and the greatest tech that was just released within the last year, right? So that’s the beauty of A.I. is that no matter what they’ve got, they can leverage A.I. to improve and build on customer experience moving forward, which essentially will have its effects of increased revenues, increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, all those good things. So I think what we hope out of this is everybody listens to this podcast, gets super excited, and wants to go bombard their customers with A.I., right? Awesome. Let’s go do it, right? That’s why I love the entrepreneurial mindset of the partners.

How do we help understand, help the partners understand to determine where the customer is? Meaning, is this just something in an environment that I have to augment? Or is this one that I can rip everything out? They’re ready for it. How would you coach a partner on how to have that conversation? You need to start at a really high level. And what I mean is understanding the overall business objectives of an end customer based on what department they’re working in, whether that’s sales or marketing or operations, right? What are your key initiatives for 2024 and beyond, right? And how are you leveraging technology to achieve those initiatives? You really have to start at a high level because sometimes they’re not ready for artificial intelligence or they’ve already come up with a concept of what A.I. is and you have to unravel that spaghetti. You have to kind of get a pulse of where in the A.I. world they stand, right? Are they just learning or are they very familiar with it? But starting with those objectives and working your way backwards is going to give you the ability to build the case of implementing A.I. as well as any other technology, really, right? So you start high level and then you drill down into, okay, key objectives. Here’s where A.I. can make an impact specifically for that business objective, right? You have to start high.

I’m going to ask this question as we go through all the different advanced solutions folks, but security guy here and I’m a firm believer in generative and LLMs and all that good stuff for sure. So if I think about how A.I. has a lot of promise, especially in CX, because I think that’s one of the first places we’ve seen it hit, you know, being a product. How do you address these concerns of privacy, transparency, ethics? How do you help a partner talk to a customer and say, “Here’s how to think about those things when we look at modernizing.” Oh, okay. This is a loaded question. So I am all about simplifying it. So let’s take the example of chat GPT versus GPT, okay? Chat GPT is a product, but GPT, the generative pre-trained transformer, is the actual technology, right? It’s that generative technology. And so when you have clients who say, “Hey, I want chat GPT.” No, no, no. You don’t want chat GPT. You want GPT. And what that does is it segments off sort of the public arena and makes that GPT technology very specific to a company’s information. So think of, for example, Wikipedia versus a customer’s private knowledge base, right? Where you’ve got chat GPT literally scraping the interwebs for all of the information out there and giving you something that it thinks is right versus GPT technology within a private customer’s environment,

feeding information to customer service agents live during a conversation. That’s a lot different, right? And so I think just talking about that delineation between chat GPT versus GPT is a really good way to make it relatable. Now, in terms of security, there are lots of things to consider. Obviously, one, the environment, right? That it’s private, that the technology only touches that and that alone. It doesn’t go anywhere else. It doesn’t dig into anywhere else. But two, believe it or not, a lot of suppliers out there have now recognized that security is a really big issue, right? When it comes to purchasing this kind of technology and the data that flows around in it. And so what they’ve done is they’ve incorporated a lot of language to accommodate for that privacy concern within their master service agreements. So yes, our industry is changing very quickly, but the suppliers are keeping up with that. Yeah, it’s a good point. The reality is to sum that up, if your customers are scared about privacy or lack thereof, these environments can be designed with walls put around it. You’re not feeding the monster, LLM, the mothership or anything like that. Exactly. And we’ll come in and help kind of demystify that as well, right? Because we don’t expect everyone to know this. Who would know that suppliers have verbiage in contracts, right? That addresses that. They just simply won’t. And so that’s why we’ve got our team of engineers, of advanced solutions folks who can actually come in, talk to clients and sort of talk them through what security looks like in consuming these different kinds of products. Awesome. All right, let’s talk about personalization. So one of these big buzz worthy aspects, if I’m a customer, is that AI can help me personalize. So let’s talk, you know, kind of the end products, the customer environment. How do you expect that AI drives personalization and maybe creates more engaging customer experiences? Well, this is one of my favorites. So Josh, when you look through your Facebook or your Twitter or your Instagram, is it fair to say that those ads are very relatable to you? Somehow, magically, yes.

Okay, and that is not by mistake. Okay, there’s, yeah, I know, sorry. But there’s technology out there that is literally assigning you and building you an algorithm. Okay, and that’s artificial intelligence at its finest. It’s building an algorithm just for you. It’s starting to make suggestions based on your interest. And there’s a reason why you’re so interested in checking social media feeds, is because a lot of that is catered to you. And again, artificial intelligence makes that possible. It makes an experience completely personalized just to you. And that’s what keeps you so interested, right? And so now you can imagine companies are tapping into that, right? If you mention something even verbally, your device is picking that up. I know as scary as it sounds, but it is picking it up. It’s going to give you an ad like within the next 24 to 48 hours of what you were just talking about. And it continues to surprise us, but it’s been surprising us for a long time. So clearly we’re very used to that. But when it comes to personalizing the customer experience, that’s what a lot of companies are banking on, right? If I can relate to you as a customer, you’re going to buy from me and you’re going to be super loyal because I care so much about you and it’s AI doing the work. And maybe I can predict what you want or what your next purchase is. And look at that, I’m just lo and behold, here comes an ad magically, right? Right, right. And if you’re interested in a certain product, it’s going to send you that product in different colors, the next generation of that product, right? They just continue to sort of take advantage of your interests that you’ve exposed. Yeah. Awesome.

Okay, so let’s talk about how we help the partners here. So if I’m a partner, I’m listening, I’ve been selling some other technology.

Maybe I haven’t stepped into this arena yet. What’s the practical advice or the approach that you give them to help initiate some of these meaningful conversations and capitalize on opportunities that it’s going to create?

I say the number one thing is familiarize yourself with use cases of artificial intelligence because there are so many, I mean, AI flows across all of the different practice areas, whether that’s CX, cybersecurity, cloud, mobility, IoT, right? But you have to understand really how it applies because when a customer asks you or you bring up AI, first thing they’re going to say is, “Well, what do you mean by that?” And you have to be able to say, “Well, here’s how AI would fit into this process,” whether it’s helping out your customer service agents, talk them into a next step, or maybe you’re trying to go for more sales lead conversions. How can AI help there, right? It can make suggestions on what to say next, right? Little things like that, but how would you know if you haven’t done the research? So again, number one, read the use cases.

Several of our suppliers in the portfolio have those specific to artificial intelligence. Do the research before you go in. And the second thing is, like I said earlier, stay really high level. Ask about the initiatives and then tie that back to, “Okay, here’s how something like AI could help with that.”

Yeah, and are you open to further that conversation? I just listen to see. I love it.

Okay, so maybe you can walk us through an example where you’re out there, you’re doing a lot of training, you’re doing a lot of very unique events, helping teach the partners how to sell this technology. Walk me through an example for other partners to hear where because of some of these strategies that you helped train a partner on, it did something huge for their business, grew their business, or just even a specific opportunity. Yes, so my, oh gosh, one that happened actually just within the last few months, we had a head of digital experience actually hop on the phone with me and one of our partners. And he actually said, “Hey, I want surveys.”

My first question was, “Why?”

And his immediate response was, “Well, we want customer feedback.”

My first response, knowing research in this space, said, “Do you know how many people actually answer surveys?” I mean, Josh, like when was the last time you answered a survey? I don’t know. Not very often. I’m not good at it. – Mark has read. – Okay, okay, yeah. Yeah, and I share that with him. He’s like, “Well, I just want feedback that’s bad.” I’m like, “Okay, well, you might get some responses, but the reality is nobody really answers surveys anymore.” And so that’s why I said, “Why are you doing this? What’s really the background here?” And I came to the root cause of, “Well, we want to capture the voice of the customer.” That’s what it ended up being. At the end of the day, you want to capture the voice of the customer. And he goes, “Okay, well, so how do I do that? Don’t I just need surveys?” I said, “Well, just imagine how many interactions you’re missing out on, right? You’re limiting yourself to data just from surveys that are optional that get very low response rates.

How would you feel about being able to see the entire voice of the customer across every single interaction that came into your business?” Right? And he goes, “You can do that?” I said, “Well, actually, artificial intelligence is something that can accomplish that for you, where your people don’t have to look for things within interactions. AI machines can actually process all of them and show you what’s most important about what people are calling in about or reaching out to your company about.” And he was like, “Oh, wow. Okay, I didn’t know that was a thing.” And this guy, he’s super modern, has all these really cool tools internally, but he still had no idea that something like artificial intelligence could help with a very simple task of gathering the voice of the customer. So that’s a real life example that happened literally in the last few months.

He went into an active sales cycle with a couple of suppliers and were able to put that in to the process right before the really busy holiday season. So a really effective way to just, you know, again, figure out what the high level issue is and then drill down and say, “Okay, that could potentially be an AI opportunity.” Yeah, and you know, I give you kudos, right, because you make it sound so easy. But the reality is, though, I think there’s an underestimation of what these customers know from a tech stack that’s out there, right? Don’t get me wrong, customers are sharp. They got a lot of things on their plate. We’re sitting here at the epicenter of data and research and what’s in the market and what our suppliers have and what everybody’s buying. So you’re very confident in that because you know that product, you’ve seen that product, and it works. And then, you know, we’re having this preconceived notion that our customers already know these things and they don’t. They just they want help. They’re dying for this information. So I’d love love hearing that success story. Yeah, there are a lot of CEOs out there who are going to a guy or a gal and saying, “Hey, we want AI. You go figure that out.” Yeah, be that person’s hero. Exactly. Exactly. All right. So last couple of thoughts here as we look ahead in this. And I know this is a hard answer because or a hard question because this is changing so fast. But if you look at this intersection of AI and CX in the next 12 months, what are these emerging trends? Is it anything different than what we’ve talked about? Do we just stay laser focused on this this GPT evolution or what are your thoughts there? You know, what’s funny is people are like, well, what’s next in AI? It’s so new. The reality is AI has actually been in CX for at least over a decade. We just didn’t realize it. Something as simple as like IVR, right? If this, then that. That’s basic artificial intelligence. Now, as we look into 2024 and beyond, we’re going to start to see AI really take off. We’re going to see more AI applications, not just in CX, but across more swim lanes as they pertain to essentially cybersecurity, what have you. Right. We’re going to see a big uplift in AI across these other emerging technologies. But again, in relation to CX, we’re going to see a lot around conversational AI as models start to learn more human behaviors. And intent, it’s going to start incorporating more of that where you’re you feel like you’re talking to a real person. But it’s actually a robot. Right. We’re going to see a lot of that. We’re going to see a lot more AI around analytics, being able to make data driven decisions, especially for those folks who have old antiquated technology. They just want something to optimize that process, but can’t necessarily afford to lift and shift. We’re going to see a lot of AI sit on top of on prem in addition to cloud stuff. So I think that’s that’s where we’re going in the next year. Awesome. All right. Final thought here. So this is a direct to, you know, the partners can relay this, but this is as it applies directly to the businesses out there considering AI. So if I’m in that bucket, what are the pitfalls that I want to think about avoiding or key considerations to keep in mind as I start going down this AI road? So I’ve got a smooth transition at the end of the day. Yes, I think the number one thing is this concept of how artificial intelligence is replacing humans.

And I think that’s something they’re going to battle day in and day out because it’s stuff that we see all the time. And even some of our technology advisors come to us saying, hey, you know, why would I want to sell something that it’s going to get rid of the human beings within an organization? Which is a really fair question. You have to be able to come back with overcoming that objective saying, hey, you know, it’s not replacing humans. Rather, it’s optimizing your operations and really enabling and empowering the people who are handling these interactions. Because in a situation where, you know, you have to express empathy, you can’t depend on a robot to express empathy. Right. There’s a very key human element here that really is leveraged as a basis of differentiation for companies. Right. When I can talk to a real person, but that person is armed with everything they need to have a successful interaction. That’s gold. That’s what’s going to make me money at the end of the day as a company. Love it. OK, I’m out of questions, Sam, as always. Thanks for coming in and dropping some golden nuggets for us. Excited where I goes in twenty four. Yeah, can’t wait. It’s going to change tomorrow. Love it. All right. OK, everybody, I’m your host, JoshLupresto SVP of Sales Engineering. This is AI. This is CX and much more to come. So until next time, thanks, everybody.