Doing CX Right

Demystifying AI: How Humans and Machines Can Work Together, with Stacy Sherman of Doing CX Right Podcast - Featuring Lately CEO Kate Bradley Chernis

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Speaker 1: (00:10)

Hello, Kate, welcome to the Doing CX Right show.

Speaker 2: (00:13)

What up, Stacy? How you doing? ?

Speaker 1: (00:16)

I am great cuz I'm here with you and I really mean that I have been mesmerized by what you're doing, even what you're saying out there in the world, in your social posts. And I'm gonna quote you in a couple of things today, .

Speaker 2: (00:35)

Oh wow. Uhoh that, uh, .

Speaker 1: (00:39)

Yeah, you are, you are turning things upside, right? Thank and, and a disruptor. And so that's why I'm so excited that you're here. But before we get into that, please tell my audience who are you, what do you do for a living?

Speaker 2: (00:56)

That, boy, that's a deep question really. But, um, , I'm the c e o and co-founder of Lately ai. And we use artificial intelligence to do three things all at once. We learn your brand voice and then we are able to pinpoint the words and ideas and even the phrases that will convert your own unique audience on social media. And we do all that through the ingestion of long form content, which we're able to splice up into dozens and dozens of kind of promotional components, all driving traffic back to the, the original. So it's, you know, it's a lot, it's a lot to to say, but it is what we do. And we're not generative ai, although people do put us in that bucket. And we can talk more about that later, but mm-hmm. , prior to this wild, uh, rollercoaster , I had a career in radio. My last gig was broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM Satellite Radio.

Speaker 1: (01:57)

Wow. Well, tell me why your passion, what made you even leave radio and go into this startup that you raised from, you know, like a baby and, and, and really grew this baby to why, why the passion.

Speaker 2: (02:18)

Yeah. That's, you know, I, I love radio so much and I love the theater of the Mind. I, I, that I was lucky enough to be brought up in the kind of radio where we were live still, where you're cracking the mic overnights, you know, you had a place to make a lot of mistakes and, and learn. And I was with people who loved playing jokes like on the air. We would make up all these characters and you would think that there was this whole thing going on, and it was just us goofing around, you know, backstage with like Foley and, and all that kind of stuff. And I, I thought a lot about, I was a writer, so I did, I was a fiction writing major. Another at the time, kind of a useless skill, right? People made fun of you. What are you gonna do with that?

Speaker 2: (02:58)

You're gonna be be a teacher, right? How do you make money? Who's laughing now? Cause the whole world runs on text in one way or the other. But, um, I, I thought about how powerful it was when you're reading a book and, and your mind has to fill in the blanks, right? That, that incredibly engaging process that we all do, not even realizing it probably, but listening has the same way. When you're listening to someone, the theater of the mind kicks in and you have to fill in the blanks. And so, so let's hold onto that and I'll, I'll tell you more about that later. But the reason I left radio, the honest reason is because I was so, so sexually harassed and was in such a hostile work environment that my body shut down. And I became in incapacitated in a number of ways. And I was forced to leave. And it was awful, Stacy, because I thought I was gonna lose my, my personality because this is who I had been for so long, and I was terrified that I didn't have an identity, right? Isn't it weird now? It seems weird. ?

Speaker 1: (04:05)

Well, no, now, no, now people are talking about it. It's been happening for so long in every industry, right?

Speaker 2: (04:14)

That's right. Yeah. Everyone, and we didn't even, we didn't even realize it, that I didn't realize it because it was such a part of the fabric of everything we did that, you know, I was participating in it and rewarded for it, right? And I was, I don't have a face for radio. And so I was on the receiving end of quite a lot of it. And, um, and there's no, you know, there's really no women in radio. I think there was out of a hundred people on, on the floor I was in, there might have been three of us. So what was kind of crazy, as I was diving into a lot of everything I could figure out how to do to help myself, I had this weird, I have epicondylitis and, and tendonitis throughout both arms and hands, which basically means I cannot type at all, um, without extreme pain.

Speaker 2: (04:58)

So I, this microphone that I'm wearing is something that I wear all the time. I talk to my computer all day long. I still talk for a living. Stacy, what's up with that? But this is Dragon naturally speaking, which is by the way, is also artificial intelligence that here I am at xm, I have no money. I have to get my own laptop because the IT team won't install this software in into the, in anything in the, in the building, right? So I'm kind of left on my own devices, so I, at least with a laptop, I could be mobile and try to figure this out. And Dragon didn't work like it does today. It barely worked. And there were a few underground instructors, and I found one, and she lived in DC and she was a huge fan of my channel, and I was able to pay her in CDs because that's what I had, right?

Speaker 2: (05:42)

I didn't, I gave her like a couple hundred CDs and she helped me learn how to use this. It's like learning a new language and I was able to start to function like you do, you know? But still, it took a long, I mean, I've been using Dragon now for, what year are we in 2023? That was 2006. So however long, long time. And, um, I tr I cheat again, this is related to theater of the mine. So I hear how my voice sounds and gets translated into writing all day long. And I can hear when I sound like a, right? , I know what's, what's coming out on the other side. So I'm gonna, I'm, I'm gonna digress here. Let me tie all these pieces together for you guys. So after radio, I, I was consulting and, um, someone came along and said, Hey, you're really good at marketing.

Speaker 2: (06:32)

Why don't you consult this for a lot more money? Get outta the music industry altogether. And my first client was a little company, you know, called Walmart. So for the Walmart project, I built this Sano spreadsheet system that ended up being the bedrock of what lately software became. And we got 130% ROI year over year, over three years. The thing everybody loved the most was this feature where we would automatically turn your blog into 40 social posts, right? . Yeah. And at the time, people were asking me like, you know, why, why were you so good at radio? My, my, my superpower, my uber power is turning listeners into fans or customers into evangelists. And that's what I was trying to do for Walmart through writing. And so I started to research like, what do these things have in common? The theater of the mind being, being that thread here, right?

Speaker 2: (07:26)

So lemme put, put it this way, stake seek is you do every, you do this every day. You are great at what you do because you understand that the human has to fill in part of this journey. They're listening to you, they trust you, and you're giving them the space to be in the conversation with you and not feel like you're just talking at them. And an author does the same thing. Now, when your voice listens, when your brain listens to a new song, it must instantly access every other song you've ever heard. In this instant. I'm tying this all together, people, I promise. And it's trying to find the familiar touchpoints of the new song against all the other songs in, in, in the library of the memory of your brain. So it's tugging on nostalgia and memory and emotion and all the things that make trust happen.

Speaker 2: (08:16)

Now, your voice also has a sound to it, as all sound does. It has a frequency to it, like a song. And when you write text, I hear your voice in my head. And it's your job as the writer to trigger nostalgia and memory and emotion. Right? Now, here's the last part, and I'll, I'll stop talking in a minute. I'm sorry. Is that when we built, lately, we originally incorporated human training as part of how the algorithm learns because we knew that there is a [inaudible] in marketing, as there always will be something little magic sprinkle that you can't define. Guess what? It is us, right? It's the same idea with the theater of the mind and this little extra kind of thing that you have to allow. You can't pinpoint what it is, but you have to allow for it there. And so that's allowed us to really take lately into a place that all the other generative AI can't go.

Speaker 1: (09:17)

Going back for a moment around your vision for lately, you had to convince people to give you funding and help you ignite this. Yeah. Any tips for entrepreneurs out there who are wanna take advantage of this booming technology and not necessarily the same business, but you had to show a vision how this is going to solve customer needs? Any advice on what you did or how you did that?

Speaker 2: (09:58)

It's, it's not, it's not as obvious as it seems. So ironically, that was like the last thing we were able to communicate , um, because it's such a backwards road. Like we didn't even know we built AI in the beginning, Stacy, we had no idea. I, we built this crazy organizational system, which is what I had done for Walmart out of spreadsheets. And each feature was part of organization. And then we tried to sell marketing organization, which tanked because how unsexy can you possibly get, right? But there was that one feature that people really liked. So we started to rejigger the company, and then we got a grant from IBM m Watson. And the people we were working with were like, Hey, this is AI that you are building here. We were like, what? And so we started to, you know, learn more about that and we got the video components in, and then AI started becoming a thing like three years ago.

Speaker 2: (10:56)

But even until recently, it was, and you heard me in the beginning, it's very difficult to explain what we do. And it was also difficult to, to underscore the value or to explain the value, like you had said, because so many people were using lately for many, many different things. Um, they weren't me. Like originally I was a true north, let's build lately for other marketing agency owners. And it turns out that while we do have customers who are marketing agency owners, it's often a harder sell because the threat level feels much higher to them, the, of this idea of being replaced. Whereas honestly, the smart ones are just like, well, I'm just gonna use this to either A, make my job way easier, or B, sell a new product back to my customers. Right? That's like, yeah, you know, great. But the, the tip I would say is it's all about being convincing because you, you don't have this data.

Speaker 2: (11:54)

You, maybe you don't have sales, maybe you don't truly know what's valuable to the customer, but you have customers, you're figuring it out, and it's changing in every single day, like to the second. It really is. But you are the asset that they invest in for a long time. Nobody, anybody's serious or worth their salt is, is not investing in anything else. They believe that you have the capacity to, to be nimble enough to figure out how this is gonna work, right? Mm-hmm. To be resourceful enough for the women in the room. The my tip for you is so simple. Don't undercut your authority with weak language. Like, I think you don't think, you know,

Speaker 1: (12:41)

Ooh, that's powerful.

Speaker 2: (12:45)

Oh, wish I'd learned it sooner.

Speaker 1: (12:47)

, we could do an episode just on that. This is good. So wow, what you're talking about is what I call bringing the heart to business. You're talking about emotions, you're talking about all of these human factors, and yet your platform is leveraging a machine. And so that's what also is fascinating because people are afraid of the, this AI technology. They don't know what piece of AI it is. You know, I'm learning, but AI is ai, it's a robot, it's a machine. So let me ask you before I even get to that question, back up for a second. What does customer experience mean to you? Whether it was you at Walmart, whether it was you building this business and sustaining the growth. Now what is customer experience? What is that to you?

Speaker 2: (14:00)

To us, we, it has, there's a bike, bicycle spoke. It has to start from inside, right? Just like at home with a family, right? So the way we treat each other is the way we treat our customers is the way we treat our would-be customers. It's also the way our AI works, right? So that the human element is everything. It's the fabric of everything we do. And by which I mean the golden rule, empathy, my, all of my team members follow each other on social media. I know when someone is having a bad day, cuz I can see it, right? Mm-hmm. . Now I still have to lead the team and I still have to make sure the rules getting enforced. But, you know, in the background, I'm texting Chris being like, Hey man, you doing okay today? I saw that. What's up? Right? Or I know today is the day your dad attempted or, or died by suicide.

Speaker 2: (14:52)

I know that this is your day. Are you having an okay day? We, we sh we overshare I would say, um, as a team in some ways. But one of the things I remembered about working at, at XM and I worked at IBM for well as well is that, and I'm guilty of this myself, but you have to give everybody this avenue to be naked, right? Be vulnerable, be embarrassing, make mistakes, screw up. Because we do like, I, I do also, and I'm the first one to tell my team, like, believe me, I know most of the time I, you might think I'm being a jerk, but it's just, I'm just being short. I don't have time to write it out. You know, I don't, I don't even take my own medicine sometimes. And knowing that, like, when, when that is happening inside, then the way the customer experience flourishes is because it's from the outside in, right?

Speaker 2: (15:54)

Mm-hmm. one, one of the things we all do is sign up for not only our own social media channels on each other's, but like all of your emails, any emails we send, I have, I automatically make sure my team receives them because I want them to be on the receiving end of what a customer is experiencing from us. And they'll catch the mistake. They'll, they'll say to me, whoa, this one was weird or not. You know, that's something, by the way, again, from radio, like I, there's a thing called air checking, Stacy, where I'm in, I'm old people. So it was a cassette , you stuck the cassette in the air check machine and every time you cracked the mic, the cassette would turn on and record just the part of you talking. So then you could go and listen to it and see how you did.

Speaker 2: (16:38)

And I air checked every single show I ever did, right? Mm-hmm. . And I would obsess of go home and listen to it on the way home thinking how to do a better job. I ask my team to record themselves when, when they do demos, um, for the same reason. Because it's embarrassing. You know, right away, you know when something isn't right because you can, you can, you're seeing yourself doing it, you're hearing it come back and you're like, Ugh. And it might, it makes you wanna be better. So the short answer is called dog food, right? Have you ever heard that term before? We you dog food your own product. You drink your own champagne. Yes.

Speaker 1: (17:13)

Yes. So

Speaker 2: (17:14)

We like dog food upon dog food upon dog food upon like, like it's endless .

Speaker 1: (17:19)

Yes. Well I also think about dog food with, with raising kids. Cuz you can bring them the dog food, but it doesn't mean they're going to eat it. You can't make them eat it. , that's a different topic. A different day. Different day, yes. But I, what you're saying is part of your culture and we know that culture and the employee experience, your staff experience gets fuel, fuels the customer experience. So I love how you are so intentional about it.

Speaker 2: (17:51)

I'm trying, you know, like I said, even I make mistakes, but I don't, I remember going to work and having panic attacks because I hated my job and I don't want anyone to ever feel that way. Like if they do mm-hmm. Then it's time to go and, you know, we just all have to know that and

Speaker 1: (18:08)

Yeah. Yeah. So let's talk about AI for a moment. There are non early adopters. People are fearful of the technology. So what is your view to those? In fact, you made a, you had a social post about ai. Hypers are like unsupervised teenagers, scarfing a fridge full of ring dings and that AI can be healthy and delicious if a human leads the way. Gotta laugh at that,

Speaker 2: (18:43)


Speaker 1: (18:45)

What does that mean? And I smile as I say this ,

Speaker 2: (18:52)

Right? Everyone's, there's like this, you know, buffet of frenzy buffet going on and all these, we call them G P T rappers, right? And rappers are spelled W R A P P E R S, . Um, so G P T is amazing, amazing, amazing. We were in the closed beta of G P T two like four years ago. But the data there is only, it's a year old, right? It's not up to the minute. There's no way for them to know anything about you personally, cuz there's no, there's no learning loop, right? They don't have access to analytics. Like they can, they'll can write an amazing blog, but they have no idea how your specific readers will receive that blog. So they can't in any way curtail it or they don't know you. They can't write with your voice. So most of the, the companies are wrappers because they have no control over this engine.

Speaker 2: (19:48)

They can only paint the car a different color. And even Jasper AI is the same way. Like, it doesn't matter how big you are, like that's the limit of the technology period. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , we've been doing this for nine years, so I have nine years of my own machine learning and natural language processing ip. Um, I do integrate with chat G p T, but if you think of lately as like a fully loaded ice cream sundae with, you know, chocolate whipped cream and banana and all that, our integration with chat G P T is just a little sprinkle sprinkles on top chocolate sprinkles.

Speaker 1: (20:21)

Mm-hmm. people are afraid that AI is taking over their job, the world. What's your view on that? What do you say to those people?

Speaker 2: (20:34)

Well, all technology happens and you can either embrace it or freak out about it, but the wave is already, the train has already left the station, you know, so there's not a lot of choice here. When it comes to ai though, it's, the definition that people have is fake. It's not real. So the main problem is they think AI is something that it is not. They think it's Hollywood and that's magic. And magic doesn't exist. Sorry, hate to tell you. I would like it to very much, you know, I really wanna dissapate like oh, all the time. Wouldn't that be great? Um, the tooth fairy

Speaker 1: (21:09)

Too doesn't, uh, come really come around, but, but whatever. Yeah,

Speaker 2: (21:14)

, I know. I mean, boy would I like to wake up with some money under my pillow, wouldn't you? . Um, so I think that's number one. And so then you, then you have to level set, well, what is the def definition of artificial intelligence? So whether it's in generative ai, which is my world versus, you know, self-driving cars, the, the way to to level set is to think of AI as a a three month old human. Now remember humans, were the mammals that when we're born, we're totally helpless. We can't defend ourselves, we can't feed ourselves, we can't even sit up or hold our heads up actually. So if you're a three month old human, you require help to grow and learn. So that's also very important because it's not push a button dummy and like, you know, the world changes. You still there is work involved with the current usage of chay pt. It, we're in a cliff notes scenario very much. I I, I'm gonna steal this from someone who, who, I can't remember who it was and I should give them credit because I didn't say this, but that's artificial intelligence. What's missing is emotional intelligence. Yeah. Right. This is that human element we're talking about. This is the, you Stacy, that can only be you.

Speaker 1: (22:32)

Yes. Do you see that changing

Speaker 2: (22:37)

The future of AI and humans is what everybody's wondering about right now. And I've been living it for nine years. It's, it's the collaboration, right? That's the big component. Yeah. I mean, I feel it's cliche now don't replace, enhance, but that is the jam. I think also on the levels that side, I don't know if anyone has seen, we watched Silicon Valley like repeatedly, but there's a, a not hotdog scene, which is someone, and it creates an app, and the app is designed to recognize food, you know, so you open the app, you take a picture and it can tell you what the food is, except that they've only trained it to recognize dogs. And so they print it on a hotdog and the phone says hotdog and then they turn it on a pizza piece of pizza and the phone says, not hotdog. . Right. , because there's so many pieces of data that have to go in, you know, AI still runs on the, if this, then that scenario, which is why it, there's no, it's not sat Satan, um, sat, I guess it's a hard word to say, sat Satan being right. There's no, it's not learning on its own

Speaker 1: (23:53)


Speaker 2: (23:53)

Nowhere. Mm-hmm. This is not happening. It still requires human input to get it to the next, to make any equations, to, to make any deductions or, um, yeah. Conclusions.

Speaker 1: (24:05)


Speaker 2: (24:08)


Speaker 1: (24:08)

Are actual Yeah. Uh, what are actual applications? I wanna bring up one example that you commented on LinkedIn. It was an article by c m s wire about it's time to tackle customer support tasks with AI writing software. What is your view on AI in customer service in the contact centers in business? Tell me.

Speaker 2: (24:39)

I mean, the same as just general technology. The goal is to make it so you don't have to do the annoying things you're doing and use technology to do that. Like a calculator, but like a calculator. You have to, you, you do wanna learn math the long way. You wanna be able to do it yourself before you rely on something else to do it for you, right? Yeah. Um, so with customer service, you know, are you able to key into the real problem? This is something we see as humans all the time. Like, what is the person really asking? People come at you often with like, they're not very nice, you know, right away. And Kristen, my, my Kristen, poor Kristen, she's like amazing. She has to somehow slice through that and, and be empathetic and, and all these things. Now there's AI can certainly service up like our AI could analyze a series of customer service, um, events and then show you patterns of the words that the, uh, the employee used to solve the problem or to address the issue and what worked it and what didn't, for example. Mm.

Speaker 1: (25:48)

Mm-hmm. . So like,

Speaker 2: (25:51)

I'll tell you one of them, by the way, which is gosh, gosh is the best word ever. Oh gosh. I'm so sorry.

Speaker 1: (25:59)

Well, also, I mean, that one's funny, but what's not funny is the word legal or lawsuit or, you know, there are words that we have to act on immediately as business managers and leaders, right? So that's powerful.

Speaker 2: (26:20)

Yeah. I mean, and this is where the human is so important to come in, right. To be able to deuce deduce the context of those words. Yeah. You know, that's, I, I don't see that leaving. I mean, and that's something people are complaining about as well. I still have to contextualize the content. Yes, you, yes you do. It's just an idiot. It doesn't know you, you know, it can't possibly, um, it's, this is the magic of magical thinking, you know, here that, yeah. Um, but yeah, and it'll be so exciting and interesting to see how people are continuing to use, like our, our customers discover new ways to use lately all the time. So, for example, um, we were working with a company that has the video rights to essentially every comedian you've ever heard of, and they took a Drew Carey special and they ran it through lately, and lately clipped up all the best jokes. Right? We were like, huh.

Speaker 1: (27:14)

Yeah. hadn't thought

Speaker 2: (27:15)

Of that.

Speaker 1: (27:16)

Yeah. But what you're doing is you're saving people time and productivity, yet also, and I can vouch for the content that it creates, you still need the human brain to personalize it. So

Speaker 2: (27:36)


Speaker 1: (27:37)

It is a collaboration, AI and human

Speaker 2: (27:41)

For sure. And those insights are so interesting to me, like the words and the word clouds. You know, when I was working with Walmart, what I saw was there were all these people who were so interested in marketing, who a lot of them were not marketers themselves, but needed access to the data. And they needed to understand the data and the huge weight of interpreting the data was the thing that nobody could do or really wanted to do. That was my job. And it seemed so obvious to me. And so if you can just literally give people the d n a, the words, these are the words that are resonating with the audience you are addressing.

Speaker 1: (28:23)


Speaker 2: (28:24)

, that seems, you know, he helpful as opposed to this nonsense. Like, you know, marketers love to throw around acronyms and KPIs and all these numbers. .

Speaker 1: (28:37)

Yes, indeed. Well, you're answering, uh, an important question as I'm coming to the end here, rapid fire questions. So what is the best advice you've ever received or you've given to others? What stands out?

Speaker 2: (28:55)

Uh, the best advice is to leave silence in the conversation. Because when you do people lean forward, it's very sneaky, powerful tool. Try it.

Speaker 1: (29:07)

Love that. If I had a ton of leaders, entrepreneurs, CEOs in my room, what's the one takeaway from our entire conversation that you want them to remember?

Speaker 2: (29:21)

, gimme your money.

Speaker 1: (29:26)

Besides yous lately, besides

Speaker 2: (29:28)

That, um, I don't know if we'd gone over this, but I, here's the takeaway that I learned, which is those, those people are all a bunch in. I'm included in them. We're all, um, stage hogs. We're all a, a personalities. However, if you walk in the room with the intent to be on stage, it's not nearly as powerful as when you walk in the room and you intend to light other people's up and put them on stage. And that's how you make a fan versus a customer. Right. That's the evangelism technique is you, you give other people the light.

Speaker 1: (30:03)

Hmm. Simon Sinek is well known for that. Mm-hmm. . And finally, if you could go back in time and talk to your 20 year old self based on what you know now that you didn't know then what would you tell younger Kate?

Speaker 2: (30:19)

Uh, don't smoke so much.

Speaker 1: (30:22)

. I bet a lot of people will relate to that. And it wasn't even legal then. .

Speaker 2: (30:28)

I know, I know. I wish I had, I used to, I mean, I was really good at smoking cigarettes and, and, um, I miss it, but I, I wish I'd stopped sooner, you know?

Speaker 1: (30:39)

Mm. Well, all smoking forms, I'll say then. Uh, yeah. Yeah. It's changed. It's definitely changed.

Speaker 2: (30:45)

It certainly has changed. Gummies. Hello?

Speaker 1: (30:48)

. Well, anything else you would tell the young professional you

Speaker 2: (30:56)

Don't be so hard on yourself?

Speaker 1: (31:00)

Mm, we are our own toughest critic for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (31:05)

I'm really working on it. I've got a sticking note for my therapist that says exactly that, but also to find more, find more joy and give myself less of a hard time, you know? Mm. Because it's hard. Stacy, I mean, like this rollercoaster, I get punched in the face every day. Sometimes I punch my own self in the face. Right. It's just you wanna win so bad and, and, um, I don't wanna fail. I don't wanna fail. .

Speaker 1: (31:36)

Oh, that's another episode. Well, thank you for being here and sharing your vulnerable self as someone who has created, manifested tremendous success from doing it, not just talking about it. So, thank you.

Speaker 2: (31:57)

Thank you.

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