The power of combining X-data and O-data

Qualtrics executives share how bringing experience data together with operational data is changing customer engagement, plus the vendor's innovation plans

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of brand messages every day. Which makes it increasingly important for marketers to understand the complete brand experience and have rich, actionable insights through a broad array of data.

“We’re seeing this media proliferation and fragmentation through digital and while it can be exciting to personalise the messaging, it’s challenging to make sure you’ve got the right message, to the right target segment at the right time,” Qualtrics research and brand experience lead in APJ, Lisa Khatri, explained to CMO.

It wasn’t always this way. Brand experience as a concept goes back several decades to the time of brand health and brand equity. The the big shift in meaning came in the 2000s with the Internet, digital marketing and the emphasis on brand building. 

In the last couple of years and with digital maturity, a more balanced position is being achieved between brand health and brand building, global lead for Qualtrics' research and brand experience team, Kelly Waldher, said. He believed the challenge now is building brand equity over the longer term, and knowing it pays off in terms of acquiring new customers, balancing that against agility through digital campaigns.

“Those two things coming together with the view toward ‘what is the brand experience I’m delivering across all of my customer and potential customer touchpoints’ is key here,” Waldher said.

“To do this, marketers need to be managing their customer experience, their employee experience and their brand experience. These three things must come together to give them a holistic view of what is the brand experience a potential customer is having with that organisation." 

Qualtrics is striving to meet this need as a technology vendor and has developed an experience management platform encompassing customer, employee, product and brand insights. The XM platform is a system of action for brands to firstly gather experience data (X-data), or the beliefs, emotions, and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. It then combines this X-data with operational data (O-data) pulled from existing systems such as HRIS, CRM and Web analytics to ensure business decisions are based on facts as well as intangibles.

Organisations using the Qualtrics XM Platform in the Asia-Pacifi region include Qantas, Volkswagen Australia, Spotify, BMW, Cathay Pacific, GOJEK, and SMBC. Waldher said many of its customers start with employee experience, looking at how to drive up employee engagement.

"If employees are highly engaged they’re likely to follow through with customer experience," he said. Alternatively, "they’re starting with customer experience, like mapping customer journeys, the various touchpoints, and how that organisation is showing up and delivering against that customer experience”. 

As the category of experience management starts to mature, the question of how to bring the employee and the customer planks of the business together to be properly aligned and related becomes a key component of moving to a holistic brand experience view of the organisation, Waldher continued.

Khatri gives the example of using data, rather than hypotheses, to show causal links between changes in employee experience metrics and customer experience metrics. Waldher added Qualtrics uses a predict IQ tool to then predict customer churn rates based on the employee experience. It's also working with clients to quantify the improvements in customer experience programs by looking at acquisition costs and lifetime value of that customer. 

“When can see uplift in customer experience and flow through from churn analysis and increase retention by a certain per cent, it will have a positive dollar value impact," Khatri claimed. “It's the same with employee experience: The cost of attrition and especially in markets with near full employment, and the cost to acquire and train talent and contributing, makes it’s expensive to lose that talent and have it walk out the door.”

Machine learning yields more value

The next curve in innovation is opening up more value across the experience management platform through machine learning. Advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning helps uncover deep insights and makes connections between the customer, employee, product and brand experiences to help close experience gaps and drive value back to the bottom line.

“Bringing together those disparate data sets, whether it’s employee or brand, having the data available inside a single platform and then being able to build models on top of that data and then apply machine learning and AI allows customers to get insights that weren’t available before because the data was spread across a bunch of different systems and because of machine learning and the power of AI those insights become unlocked,” Khatri said.

And now Qualtrics is part of the SAP system, the vendor has set its sights on bringing in operational data such as sales data, returns data and supply chain data, CRM, ERP into the platform to unite with X and O data.

"Now you’ve got a host of opportunities to generate insights which ultimately will help drive actions to go and improve outcomes in the business,” Khatri said.

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