What’s the difference between customer experience (CX) and experience management (XM)? This is one of the first questions a client asks Qualtrics before using its software.
To clear up any confusion, Yusdi Santoso, Head of CustomerXM Solutions Strategy EMEA at Qualtrics is on hand to explain what XM is all about. “It’s all about identifying and closing experience gaps and designing new breakthrough experiences that your customers and employees want next,” is the simple answer from Santoso.
“XM is a business discipline to listen to your stakeholders - whether it's your consumer, employee, supplier or partner - and use their insights to design experiences and continually improve them.
“The simple concept of listening and acting on the feedback of your customer was so alien to the corporate world I first entered in 2010, but the impact to the business is significant. That is what has kept me hooked, and two years ago I decided to join Qualtrics, a SaaS company that pioneered and championed the XM category.
“Qualtrics is one of the first, if not THE first, company that had the vision and understood the potential of breaking down the experience silos and the value of connecting the dots across all aspects of experience,” he said pointing out we live in a world where people demand more from products, brands, and experiences.
Qualtrics is used by organisations to launch new experiences based on powerful market research to uncover unmet customer and employee needs, and then to continually optimise those experiences as their market and their stakeholders change.
The future of CX is XM
So, to be clear on the difference between CX and XM; legacy CX programs tend to rely on limited feedback from a handful of customers — usually directly after a transaction or interaction and tend to be focused on tracking a customer experience metric like CSAT or NPS.
While XM is about listening to every stakeholder, whether external or external to the organisation - giving the company a detailed understanding of every individual and then using that to take the right actions to deliver an exceptional experience.
Qualtrics is the only software platform that helps brands continually assess the quality of the four core experiences of customers, employees, products and brands. The platform is powering experience management programs at 13,500 global clients - from Japan to Europe and the US - including Disney, BMW and Barclays.
According to Santoso, the platform is easily scalable thanks to automated actions which include identifying the best way to close the loop with a customer, whether 1 to 1 or 1 to many. “We are moving away from manual follow-up to creating repeatable, automated actions to ensure that you can easily scale the impact across the organisation every time,” he said.
“XM will increasingly define whether an organisation will be successful or not.
A company who doesn't care to listen to their customers and employees - or process feedback on its products and its brands - is a company that will fail,” commented Santoso.
“XM is now appearing on the executive business agenda and is being recognised by the C-suite. We are seeing “The Rise of The Chief Experience Officer” - a Forbes article written by Gerard Szatvanyi in 2019 - played out in many board rooms across the globe. Businesses that are able to not only monitor experiences they deliver, but also to think ahead to where the gaps are and design the next experiences, will be the businesses that create breakthroughs and lead the market.”
Calling on a market research heritage
A focus on reaching out to the customer for feedback is not a new concept for Qualtrics which was founded in a garage in Utah nearly 20 years ago as a market research software company by co-founder Ryan Smith and his brother Jared and father Scott.
“Qualtrics’ market leadership comes from a long heritage in market research which started back in 2002 when we first addressed the academic research field,” said Santoso.
“Qualtrics was trying to solve how to make market research a lot easier and more efficient by using technology. Since then we have applied this in other areas as we realised the same thing that we built for market research was relevant for the broader corporate needs, including in customer insights, marketing, operations, HR and procurement among other areas.
“We ask the questions such as; how do you engage with customers, employees or even partners or suppliers? How do you understand their voice and what is relevant to them? We help businesses to understand the “why” behind what happened, as well as helping them to design experience to answer the “what’s next” question.”
Human-centric approach with sovanta AG
Helping to drive this human-centric approach for customers is Qualtrics’ partnership with sovanta. For the past two years, sovanta has helped Qualtrics’ customers to combine the power of experience data (X-data) gathered on Qualtrics with operational data (O-data) from enterprise systems such as SAP, to design and improve experiences for employees and customers. Through their heritage in delivering innovative business solutions based on SAP technology, sovanta is well placed to help clients to connect the X and O-worlds.
“The Qualtrics Partner Network (QPN) is made up of hundreds of organisations, and continuously expands the range of robust, scalable, and tailored experience management solutions available in the market,” said Santoso. “As a member of the QPN, we enjoy working with sovanta AG as they are like-minded and share our vision of bringing XM to the world.
“Combining the power of X-data gathered on Qualtrics with O-data from an existing enterprise IT landscape is very powerful. Connecting the two is where the magic happens and where true value is added because you’re able to connect what’s happening with why it’s happening, in order to truly understand what’s driving positive customer experience. Having a partner like sovanta that can bridge the two worlds is critical for businesses to unlock the full value of XM.”
Cody Wedl, Head of eXperience Management & Business Development at sovanta AG, said they follow the human-centric approach when building solutions for their customers and embraced becoming an end-to-end partner with Qualtrics.
“We quickly learnt that Qualtrics is simply the best way to collect, analyse and act on the feedback that is provided by customers and employees. It's such a great platform, and it allows us to infuse user experience into XM programs,” said Wedl.
“As an end-to-end partner, we can help companies scale their programs, no matter where they are in their level of XM maturity. For example, we can assist a company that doesn't know a lot about XM, but understands the necessity for gathering feedback, whether it be from customers or employees. We can help them build a program from the ground up based on their requirements and their goals.”
“We can do this with any type of infrastructure, but being a Gold partner of SAP as well, our heart lies with them. We also have great solutions integrated with Qualtrics for companies who have a more mature XM program. The first is our User Experience Score which provides quantified User Experience data to measure business applications. The second is our e-commerce and HR chatbots which provide customers and employees the ability to provide feedback with a great user experience.
“The buzzword around all this is really following a data-driven decision-making process. We want to enable companies to combine the experience data with operational data to have that holistic perspective in order for them to act appropriately for their businesses. That's why we're in lockstep Qualtrics. We're a customer, as well as a partner, we believe in them so strongly.”
How Qualtrics retains its edge
Santoso points out Qualtrics’ advantage originates from the company’s market research heritage giving it a “human-centered” focus. He cited three points that set it apart from the pack:
1 Vision and investment for the long-term
“We created the category and invested in the long-term which reflects in the way we think and position ourselves and the investment we are making. For example, a few years ago we acquired the Temkin Group, the leading thought leader in the field, and brought them in as our XM Institute. The XM Institute is focused on helping us and our customers to look ahead and be a few steps ahead of the curve.
“We developed the vision, and cascading that vision, to bring our cutting-edge perspective to our customers and get them to think about how they can propel their program forward. There was no playbook for this, but we created the playbook and we are supporting our clients on that journey.”
As an example, the Qualtrics XM Institute has just recently launched a global Consumer Trends report, one of the largest studies of its kind with 18,000 participants across 17 industries and 18 countries, that looks at how consumer behavior will continue to change post pandemic - from ordering groceries to going to the gym, from dining to managing money. Our research helped our clients to understand what happens next and design the next set of experiences that customers want.
2 Ability to execute
“The ability to execute is really important, especially when you work with some of the world’s most ambitious companies. Qualtrics has an extensive ecosystem of internal capabilities and partners - like Sovanta and others - that can support our customers in realising their XM vision. In fact, in their latest Magic Quadrant report, Gartner rated Qualtrics as the vendor with the best ability to execute on helping customers realise value from their XM program.”
A great example of this is how Qualtrics helped UK Post Office to become the #1 public service brand in 2020. The Post Office is the largest retail network in the country, with more branches than all UK banks and building societies combined. “With 11,500 branches, one of our biggest challenges is achieving a consistent level of service across the country. And it’s compounded by the fact we know soft skills are driving satisfaction. With Qualtrics, we’ve been able to pinpoint which areas our branches are struggling in, put together an action plan for improvement, drive up customer experience, and then share key learnings across branches,” said Jesus de Sousa, Area Manager of the Post Office.
3. Technology at the heart
“Technology changes a lot of our habits as humans, take the mobile phone for example which is responsible for shaping our modern habits - how we travel, how we communicate, how we work, and how we enjoy our leisure time. It works so well because it is so personal and embedded into your day to day. We believe XM is not just a corporate fad, but when embedded inside the business it is a platform that will help you transform the organisational culture and habit to be more experience-centric.”
Qualtrics recently announced that its customers are on track to complete a record 1.5 billion actions in 2021. With more than 130 out-of-the-box integrations with companies like SAP and ServiceNow, communications tools like Teams and Slack, CRM like Salesforce, and a ticketing system like Zendesk - Qualtrics enables companies to automate experience management processes like combining operational and experience data and quickly act on it in the systems they use every day.
Taking stock during pandemic
Santoso said that Qualtrics was integral to thousands of brands during the COVID-19 pandemic, empowering them to make fast decisions in times of crisis.
“We helped them to take stock and just checked in with our customers, employees and partners to say ‘how are you doing and how can we help you?’ We wanted to make sure they had all the help they needed. As businesses start to reopen in America and Europe we pivot into helping our customers to get back to business in a way that is safe and secure for everybody. We’re helping organisations understand what their customers and employees want next.
“Take Royal Caribbean International, which expanded the use of Qualtrics in the last few months. Very few industries were hit by the pandemic as hard as travel and hospitality, and Royal Caribbean had to rewrite their playbook. And rather than pulling back like some of their competitors, what Royal Caribbean did is they chose to lean in and invest. Qualtrics has been instrumental in helping them to engage with their customers and employees and understand how a re-imagined cruise journey might look like post-pandemic.
“As we are, hopefully, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are helping our clients a lot to envision what the future looks like and create resilience as they move forward.
“The pandemic gave organisations permission to do things that they wouldn't have been able to do before and created this urgency, this burning platform, for them to do more drastic changes. And what it means is there is more permission, and a window to dream up new experiences, and to try it out, and to optimise it.
“The companies that will be successful are the ones that grab this opportunity by the collar and run with it. There are a lot of industries that haven't thought about doing anything digital and are now being pushed into it. But rather than taking it as a necessary evil they can turn it on its head and say, can we really rethink what the experiences our customers, employees, partners, or suppliers really want to get from us? And how can we deliver that experience and exceed expectations?”
Looking ahead to how Qualtrics will stay agile to the needs of the consumer, Santoso reinforced the message that it was all about listening. “We will not stop listening and will seek to accelerate the cycle of listening, understanding, and acting which is critical to making a company agile,” said Santoso.
“Delivering great experiences is not about the next best thing, but it's about every single person, every single day, thinking about what one thing they could do to make life better.”
Santoso concluded: “That's ultimately what we want to do at Qualtrics: empower everybody in an organisation to make the improvement they need to deliver, to create and to deliver an exceptional experience.”
Three steps to success with Qualtrics
1 Listen and remember
Clients get to know every stakeholder so they can deliver hyper-personalised experiences. When someone says something about their company they can capture it and store it in the XM Directory - Qualtrics’ single database for all customer and employee experience data.
“Listening more, asking less and retaining important information about customers and employees is the first step,” said Santoso.
2 Process and understand
A powerful AI-powered analytics engine - the iQ suite - works in the background 24/7 to uncover trends and insights buried deep within unstructured qualitative feedback.
“We enable organisations to get smarter, faster. Qualtrics generates specific insights for a specific person in the company so they can act,” said Santoso.
3 Build a culture of action
Make taking action an automatic response, right across the organisation. From triggering actions that improve the experience of millions of customers, to alerting the right person in the organisation to what they need to do next, XFlow - Qualtrics’ zero-code workflow engine - makes taking action scalable.
“The successful companies are the ones that create a cycle of continuous improvement all across the organisation,” said Santoso.
Quick-fire questions to Yusdi Santoso, Head of CustomerXM Solutions Strategy EMEA at Qualtrics
How does XM work?
“XM is a business discipline to design and improve experiences across the four core areas of business: customer, employee, product and brand.”
What is Qualtrics’ mission?
“We help organisations turn customers into fans, products into obsessions, brands into icons, and employees into ambassadors.”
What technology trend do you predict taking off in the next five years will benefit XM?
The first would be more sophisticated ways to connect with our customer and secondly the ability to process all this data with the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and getting that insight at scale.
Additionally, we see more and more CIOs recognising XM as an enterprise software category in its own right, and taking the ownership to take a holistic platform approach, rather than point-solution approaches that are more prevalent in the market today.
Four core experiences of Qualtrics XM
The four core experiences of Qualtrics XM focus on the following:
Experience Design - re-think and re-invent the experiences you deliver to your customers
Experience Improvement - hunt down and close experience gaps to continually exceed customer expectations
Experience Design - design a workplace experience that drives engagement and productivity
Experience Improvement - continually improve the experience and respond to the changing needs of your people
Experience Design - uncover unmet market needs and design the products people want next
Experience Improvement - continuously iterate and improve your products to stay highly competitive
Experience Design - drive brand loyalty with new, disruptive experiences that delight
Experience Improvement - respond to changes in your market through continuous improvement to the brand experience