Shep Hyken's Amazing Business Radio

Amazing Business Radio: Jeff Nicholson

Jeff Nicholson on What Consumers Know (and Don’t Know) About Artificial Intelligence

How will artificial intelligence (AI) enhance the relationship you have with your customers?

Shep Hyken interviews Jeff Nicholson, the Vice President of CRM Product Marketing at Pegasystems, about how AI technology will help companies serve their customers even better.

First Up:

Shep Hyken’s opening comments focus on artificial intelligence and how it can use data to create meaningful interactions with customers. Once people become more comfortable with AI, they’ll begin to understand how useful it can really be. Currently, there are some common misconceptions that people have about AI, especially the kinds of AI that they are already seeing in their day-to-day lives.


Featured Interview:

Shep begins his interview by asking Jeff Nicholson about Pega’s recent global consumer study, “What Consumers Really Think About AI.” Pega published its study after surveying 6,000 consumers across six countries. AI is poised to transform how customers interact with businesses, but some customers must first overcome some educational and emotional hurdles. They must feel comfortable enough to use AI to its full extent.

Jeff suggests rather than being omnichannel, be channel-less. Don’t focus on the channels individually, but use AI to streamline the customers’ experience across all channels. Jeff provides an example explaining how if you are on you can easily transition to any computer, or even their mobile shopping app to continue your shopping with the same consistent experience.

Some key findings from Pega’s Study:

  • Only 33% of respondents think they use technology with AI, but 71% actually use an AI-powered device or service
  • 70% are fearful of AI, yet 71% are open to businesses using AI with them if it makes life easier
  • 33% said that AI is never going to know them and their preferences as well as a human being

When the respondents were asked, “How do you describe what AI can do?”:

  • 51% said AI could think logically
  • 37% said AI could interpret speech
  • 35% said AI could replicate human interaction

Those are realistic responses, yet some respondents erroneously identified what AI could do:

  • 14% said AI could feel emotion
  • 10% said AI will take over the world
  • 8% said AI controls your mind

Top Takeaways:

  • AI doesn’t get rid of customer service jobs. It changes them, for the better. With the help of AI, customer service representatives will be able to devote their time to helping customers better, adding value to the relationship.
  • AI systems will interpret customer data, compare it to customers with similar histories, and work to understand the customer’s mental state. Based on that, AI will recommend to the customer service representative good ways to handle the interaction. This concept is called Next Best Action.
  • AI will be the employee’s “wingman”, making suggestions for the agent to share with the customer.


Jeff Nicholson is a recognized customer engagement thought leader. Jeff works closely with industry analysts and has been a frequent presenter at industry events on subjects including consumer engagement strategy, customer analytics, digital marketing and customer journey best practice.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, “New York Times” best-selling author and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

“A lot of the role of AI is to help you become simpler, to hide the complexity.” – Jeff Nicholson


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This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. How can artificial intelligence (AI) turn self-service into great service?
  2. How can artificial intelligence (AI) make customer service better?
  3. Do you need to have an omni-channel strategy?
  4. Will artificial intelligence (AI) take away jobs?
  5. What is Next Best Action?

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