Qualtrics: Experience management facilitates a race to the top

Older businesses are no longer competing where it counts. Now, they must compete on feelings, says global head of marketing for the customer and employee experience tech vendor

Experience management is the next generation category, and will be more important than CRM, human resource management (HRM) and even marketing automation systems, Qualtrics' global marketing lead claims. 

Businesses still using operations, supply chains and shipping to squeeze margins are competing the old fashioned way, and end up in a race to the bottom, according to Kylan Lundeen, who was in Sydney for Qualtrics X4 Conference last week. He told CMO the race to the top is about competing on experience.

“Older businesses are no longer competing where it counts. Now, you compete on feelings,” he said. “We think experience management [XM] is the next generation category. In the experience economy, XM is more important to retaining customers and expanding share of wallet, than a CRM. It is more important to retaining talent and developing future leaders than a HRM system, and it will be more important to creating a brand people are attracted to than a marketing automation system. 

“These are bold statements, but ones we stand behind.”

One might argue Qualtrics is in a position to make bold statements, given its recent US$8 billion cash acquisition by SAP last year. The acquisition was designed so customers can combine their operational data from SAP (o-data) with Qualtrics’ experience data (x-data) in the one place, to improve insights and action. 

Lundeen said it was not a typical acquisition, when the acquirer absorbs the acquiree, but more of a reverse acquisition because SAP believe XM is the future of the enterprise. 

“SAP wanted to bring the entire company around the XM messaging. Everything the company said it'd do, it's done in the last six months," he claimed. "Now, across the board, SAP is moving XM into the highest levels of the company. 

“This should be true for any business. There are four core experiences: Customer, employee, product, and brand. All these work together, so if you have a terrible product experience, this leads to a poor employee experience, which leads to a poor customer experience, and so on."

How you take action on those reflects the depth of the business, Lundeen continued. "So in this way, SAP and Qualtrics work well together. Because those experience gaps lead to churn and attrition, so Qualtrics can identify those, and SAP then affects positive change in a business," he said. 

“The presents an unprecedented opportunity for XM, to standardise x-data from the beginning on one system. Now you have XM spanning everything. We can provide an end-to-end view of all customer and stakeholder experiences, and highlight hotspots on that journey across an entire organisation."

Lundeen said it's already seeing rapid, growth particularly in the APAC region. Qualtrics has 1000 clients in APJ, up from 250 when it launched in the region in 2015, and now has 10,000 clients across the globe, including large airlines and other big brands. 

“Growth in this region is coming out of great brands focused on CX. CX is the shining star,  and this market is more mature when it comes to prioritising  stakeholder experience. APAC leads on that front,” he said. “We are excited how we can standardise on a single x-data platform to build the business. 

“The outcome of any XM is to turn your customers into fanatics. XM is the conversation we’re having with almost all executives in this space right now.”

Of course, there are those brands who are still afraid to really get into customer experience and feedback, Lundeen said. 

“There is a certain lack, globally, of willing visibility into x-data, which is ultimately the human sentiment that’s going on, and this is leaving brands exposed. Understand the human data, then you can enact a system of action to affect change in a real way," he said. “For some, it is not their instincts yet to take on board this human sentiment. 

“But x-data is the human factor data, it is connection, empathy, and understanding, and we know the future of business has feelings.”

Tech investment

Qualtrics is banking on the future of business having feelings, having recently invested heavily in artificial intelligence (AI), to better collect, analyse, scrape and route human sentiment. the vendor just launched ExpertReview – Response Quality, a new offering aimed at improving market research insights. Powered by AI, this solution aims to empower market researchers and insights professionals to weed out poor quality feedback, allowing organisations to make critical business decisions with more accurate data. 

Built on the Qualtrics XM Platform, ExpertReview – Response Quality automatically detects bad actors, bots and disengaged respondents, and provides recommendations to address the problem, including deleting all poor quality responses. 

It also launched Brand Tracking, a brand monitoring solution on the Qualtrics XM Platform that aims to transform how companies manage their brand strategy across their organisation. Brand Tracking integrates with the vendor's customer, employee and product experiences to enable a comprehensive view of insights and actions that shape the core experiences of any organisation. 

On top of this, Qualtrics announced the Qualtrics Developer Platform (QDP), providing customers with access to XM consulting, technology and services, leveraging the expertise of the Qualtrics Partner Network (QPN).
There are also new capabilities in its Qualtrics Employee Experience product, now known as Qualtrics EmployeeXM. It aims to empower organisations with a system of action to help them move beyond a single point-in-time project, to ongoing employee feedback and personalised actions, at scale. 

“CX and marketing research [MR] always been related, but would happen is a company would ask customers via a classic MR project, get other feedback out of scope, which doesn’t get responded to or recorded, leading to ineffective CX. Or, more likely, the project was seen as too large and customers wouldn’t be asked for feedback at all," Lundeen commented. 

“Technology has scaled the ability to obtain consumer responses from everyone, make sense of these responses, and route them automatically to the best people to take action. 

“If you do MR and get 400,000 feedback items, which you have to manually code, it’s just not possible. Now, machines can do this, giving it a sentiment score, populating by core topics, summarising and mapping to operational data. You can then send action items on customers you want to retain to the people who can effect change. 

“We’ve built AI into our platform... and it can now flag the health of a questionnaire using AI, to check if you’ve crated some bias within it. It also checks governance and privacy, both to the brand owners, who don’t want to collect certain information, and flag privacy issues for the brand, as well as the user. It can collect and take action on x-data, to manage and improve the experience with x-data."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu 

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