2019 XM Trends From Qualtrics Thought Leaders

This is the time of year for holiday cheer, family celebrations, and, of course, listings of annual trends!

To help me identify trends for 2019, I reached out to some of the many thought leaders across Qualtrics and asked them to share one or two of the top experience management (XM) trends they are expecting to see in the coming year.

It was a great exercise. We have some amazing people across Qualtrics who regularly help organizations master all aspects of XM: Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience (EX), Brand Experience (BX), and Product Experience (PX). And the trends they shared highlight the enormous amount of learning and maturing that’s currently happening in the field of XM. For the sake of simplicity, we organized their trends into four broad categories:

  1. Humanizing through Technology
  2. Tailoring Insights for Action
  3. Expanding Predictive Analytics
  4. Authentically Living Brand Values

1) Humanizing through Technology

Companies are starting to recognize that their customers (and their employees!) are real human beings, with their own emotions, wants, needs, beliefs, and motivations. Companies are using technology and data to not only deepen this understanding, but also deliver more emotionally resonant experiences. Here are some trends from our experts:

  • Adaptive, Conversational Listening. “Survey” has a pejorative overlay in the common vernacular in the U.S. today. Customers are over-surveyed with surveys that benefit only the company and not the customer. We’ve come up with a way to change the survey to a conversation, whilst preserving methodological rigor around validity and repeatability. Our method seems simple but is built on a sophisticated process within Qualtrics. First, we identify the conversational aspects of the feedback request before we engage a customer. A conversation is a give and take, a social contract between two people (personas, in abstract) who are exchanging a number of responses that include emotions, meanings, motivations, and memories evoked by current, previous experiences and the cues of the conversation. We identify the main constructs that we are dealing with as part of this feedback strategy: the company, the Feedback Conversation and the Persona who represents the customer, and we adapt the feedback requests based on the customer response.  (Carol Haney, Head of Research & Data Science)
  • Make It Matter To Me. The advancement and application of artificial intelligence is already enabling more meaningful customer experiences. Whether it’s via chatbot, or a truly personalized experience, artificial intelligence has the potential to truly humanize endless reams of data. (Juliana Smith Holterhaus, Ph.D., Senior XM Scientist)
  • Quantify & Discuss Customer Emotions. Thanks to rapidly evolving technologies, in 2019, I expect to see more companies measuring and discussing customer emotions. Emotions play an essential role in how we make decisions and form judgments, and consequently, they significantly impact our experiences with and loyalty to different companies. And yet companies have historically ignored emotions – dismissing them as too squishy and unquantifiable. However, recent advances in technological capabilities – such as cloud storage, processing power, machine learning, AI, natural language processing, etc. – are allowing companies to start identifying and quantifying their customers’ emotions. For example, companies can now use speech or text analytics to automatically surface emotions during customer service conversations, and new analytics can infer customers’ emotions based on their digital body language (e.g. scrolling, clicking, hovering). Additionally, machine learning enables companies to uncover patterns in customers’ behaviors and preferences, allowing them to proactively address problems and personalize customers’ experiences. (Isabelle Zdatny, CCXP, Qualtrics XM Institute)
  • AI To boost Frontline Productivity. We are increasingly seeing more companies incorporate sophisticated technologies such as virtual agents to enable smarter self-service in order to rethink operational processes and deliver immediate gratification. Contrary to beliefs that virtual agents will start to replace agents in frontend operations, we actually expect AI to help drive adoption of virtual assistants to become the primary channel of self service, while saving effort and time for agents and increasing their overall productivity, whereby they can focus on being a source of revenue rather than be a cost-center by selecting and presenting the best possible solution to the customer when engaged in LIVE calls. But, the focus will need to be maintained on relying on mechanisms which can also distinguish when the customer is confused and can understand and distinguish based on that emotion to engage a live agent – so ultimately the experience is frictionless, yet effortless from all involved. (Arpana Luthra, Principal Consultant, CX Practice)
  • Augmented Reality Will Redefine XM. Technologies like augmented and virtual reality will be important in elevating overall experiences and improving decision making. These technologies will make shopping easy, convenient, attractive and certainly differentiated – enabling customers to touch, feel, discover and explore products to create an experiential environment giving them a realistic feeling of the product or service experience much before they make a purchase decision. This will require businesses to re-imagine their people, process, technological and service strategies while ensuring they continue to deliver to their brand promise, but do so more effectively. (Arpana Luthra, Principal Consultant, CX Practice)

My Take: Organizations will increasingly focus on the fundamental component of XM—human beings. It’s important to start with an understanding of how people think, feel, and act. How can organizations apply this knowledge? By applying the Human Conversational Model to all interactions, including the growing number of digital touch points.

2) Tailoring Insights For Action

While most companies are now fairly proficient at data accumulation, collecting data just for the sake of collecting data is not useful in and of itself. Companies must actually use these insights to drive customer- and employee-centric decisions across the entire organization. To do this, they need to be strategic about how they collect information, how they tailor the information to their separate audiences, and how they use that information to identify and act on improvement opportunities. Here are some trends from our experts:

  • Activating Managers’ Engagement Skills. More companies are recognizing that a strong culture and engaged employees are not a result of HR tactics, but on how effectively individual leaders and managers are connecting with employees. I’m seeing more companies putting time into helping managers understand their role in employee engagement and identifying and removing time-consuming administrative tasks that get in the way of managers supporting, coaching, and recognizing employees every day. Companies are also working on improving the feedback managers get so that it enables managers to have more productive conversations with their employees about what’s working and not working on the job. (Aimee Lucas, CCXP, Qualtrics XM Institute)
  • From Survey To Strategy. I’m beginning to see organizations ask how the annual engagement survey can best fit into their overall people strategy. Leaders are taking an interest in linking survey results to business outcomes, aligning surveys along multiple points in the employee journey, taking action that will impact the business both immediately and 3-5 years from now. Surveying is no longer an annual look backward, but a strategic tool in moving forward. These conversations are exciting for both the client and Qualtrics. (Kara Laine, XM Scientist)
  • High Frequency Feedback Isn’t Helping. We have had several customers this year pull back from a monthly employee survey strategy to something Quarterly or even Semi-Annually. Their manager report not having the ability to action it before the next survey goes out and they are overwhelmed by the frequency. We find that instead our successful customers are working to connect with employees at meaningful touch-points, such as during onboarding or on a work anniversary, rather than focusing on frequency. (Austin Nilsson, EX Delivery Services Manager)

My Take: As I wrote in a post earlier this year, the future of VoC is insight & action, not feedback. Companies are increasingly recognizing that they need to drive four different action loops. This requires them to tailor insights to fuel different decision-making processes across an organization. That’s why Qualtrics is so committed to helping our customers deliver role-specific insights.

3) Expanding Predictive Analytics

Customers and employees increasingly expect companies recognize them as individuals, anticipate their needs, and proactively address their concerns. To meet these rising expectations, companies are using powerful analytics engines to combine rich customer and employee feedback with reams of CRM and operational data, surface meaningful patterns within that data, and then generate predictive models that allow for proactive, personalized experiences. Here are some trends from our experts:

  • Hyper-Contextualized, Not Personalized. A positive, consistent experience has long become a table stake. Today’s customers want organizations to respect their time. A good product at a competitive price is no longer the basis for differentiation. Truly customer-centric organizations will increasingly leverage data-driven analytics to spot customers’ buying patterns, behaviors across channels and touch points to design experiences and content, at a time customers want it and deliver them proactively rather than reactively. Customers will increasingly look for a unique, customized experience that is memorable and reminiscent of a personal relationship. There will likely be a rise in teams and knowledge centers focused on identifying the experience along these personalized journeys. Closely tied will be the importance of measuring customer emotions and understanding how they feel in the moment because customers who have a negative experience during a brand interaction are more likely not to forgive that company. We expect analytics to not only empower brands to personalize experiences, but also enable them to identify and prevent issues before they would happen, so they can now shift resources not to problem solve but to get ahead of them. (Arpana Luthra, Principal Consultant, CX Practice)
  • People Analytics. People analytics involves deriving insights from employee data and advanced analytics to make talent management decisions to drive revenue and growth. Over 70% of companies now consider people analytics a high priority, but only 10% believe they have a good understanding of which talent dimensions drive performance in their organizations. People analytics may be leveraged alongside data captured at every employee touchpoint to develop algorithmic selection systems, dynamic workforce planning models, and social networks informing organizational silos and influence between and within teams – to name a few possibilities. (Brandon Riggs, EX Internal Program Lead)

My Take: Historically, insights have been used to describe what has happened in the past. While this retrospective provides value, the ultimate objective is to use insights to prescribe best actions for the future. As predictive analytics becomes more accessible and companies blend together X- and O-Data, we’ll see a surge in predictive recommendations. Qualtrics is putting a lot of energy into making these advance analytics much more accessible to business users.

4) Authentically Living Brand Values

People want to interact with organizations whose policies and practices align with their personal principles, ideals, and attitudes. Companies can build trust and emotionally engage both their customers and employees by authentically championing social causes and demonstrating that they share the same values as their target customer segments. Here are some trends from our experts:

  • Merging Inclusivity And CX. We’ve seen multiple news articles over the past year surrounding how companies can create better online experiences for customers with disabilities. One of my favorite CX-related stories from 2018 was on the work of the Hearing and Speech Agency in Baltimore, MD. The organization is working with D.C. area restaurants to train workers on how to understand and create enjoyable experiences for customers with speech disabilities and disorders. Starbucks also opened its first U.S. sign language store in Washington, DC this past year. (Stephanie Thum, CCXP Chief Advisor, Federal Customer Experience)
  • Maturing Of Customer Journey Mapping. Customer journey maps will sustain their momentum as a popular tool to diagnose and design customer experiences. Successful journey mapping companies avoid the common of mistake of assuming the map itself is the “finish line” but rather bring cross-functional subject matter experts together who use the map’s findings to take action around the key moments of truth that deliver on an organization’s brand promises. In 2019, more companies will use journey maps to highlight the emotional impact of the experience as a way to raise empathy for customers among employees, regardless of their roles. Companies will also shift from using maps solely to capture the current state experience and begin to use them to keep the broader journey in mind while innovating future-state customer interactions. (Aimee Lucas, CCXP, Qualtrics XM Institute)
  • Fusing The Concepts Of Ethics And BX. Customers oftentimes look to online reviews and ratings to make decisions, anticipating or expecting experiences that may be based on those reviews and ratings. But what about when reviewers have been compensated to write positive reviews, incentivized to do so with a discount on a future purchase, or reviews are just plain fake? Similarly, what are the CX ethical implications of score begging, when auto dealerships, for example, beg for 10s on a survey, rather than allow customers to provide an honest review that would then possibly trickle out via marketing to other, future customers? How do we consider and think about these things when creating or honestly evaluating the experience customers are having with brands? (Stephanie Thum, CCXP Chief Advisor, Federal Customer Experience)

My Take: For an organization to optimize its CX, BX, PX, and BX efforts, it must have a deep understanding of its core values. Without this clarity around a true north, it’s nearly impossible to align priorities across an organization. We’ve seen companies live their values by translating customer promises into employee actions —and we expect to see even more of this activity going forward. I recently discussed how Starbucks should have used this approach for training after its recent issues.

The bottom line: 2019 will be an exciting year for XM!

Starbucks Training Should Focus on Broken Brand Promises

Last week, Starbucks closed all of its stores for racial sensitivity training after an incident in April when two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store.

My Take: Starbucks training was well intentioned, but misguided.

As I said in my previous post, it’s great that Starbucks’ leaders took such swift and decisive action to condemn the incident. So what’s wrong with Starbucks doing sensitivity training? Nothing. It doesn’t hurt, but it also doesn’t address the right long-term problem.

Employees don’t change who they are when they go to work. They’re the same people before and after their shift as they are when they’re wearing green aprons. Rather than trying to change who employees are as people (which has little chance of lasting success), Starbucks needs to focus on how those employees view their role when they are at work.

That’s why Starbucks should focus its training on its brand values, not on racial sensitivity.

One of our Four CX Core Competencies is Compelling Brand Values. Companies need to use their brand as a blueprint for how they treat customers. To do that, they must focus on the promises that they make to customers through three steps:

  1. Make Promises. Ensure promises are clearly and explicitly defined.
  2. Embrace Promises: Help employees understand their critical role in delivering on the promises.
  3. Keep Promises: Hold the organization accountable to fulfilling the promises.

Temkin Group hasn’t worked directly with Starbucks, but if we did, we would have encouraged the leadership to create a set of customer promises that looked something like this:

We (Starbucks) promise to act in a way that our customers consistently:

  • Feel Welcomed. We will treat everyone who comes into one of our stores as our guest, whether they’re buying food or just hanging out.
  • Feel Sustained. We will provide wholesome food and beverages that are made with the freshest, healthiest ingredients.
  • Feel Inspired. We will provide an environment where our customers can comfortably meet and talk to others, dream big thoughts, or just relax.
  • Feel Heard: We will relish feedback from our customers, and view it as an opportunity to celebrate or improve.
  • Feel Valued. We will show our appreciate for every customer.

The training should have been about embracing & keeping these type of customer promises. Employees should have gone over multiple scenarios (including the one that happened in Philadelphia) and discussed how employees had either kept or broken those promises. Employees should also have discussed things that they can do to better keep the promises.

In other words, even racially insensitive employees should understand that the incident was unacceptable because it breaks one of Starbucks’ brand promises.

Starbucks leaders can’t treat this as a training issue, it’s a cultural issue. As we’ve discussed, culture is how people think, believe, and act. Starbucks leaders must do more than deploy a bunch of training if they expect to see any lasting change.

This is not just an issue at Starbucks. Very few companies actively help their employees embrace their brand values, as you can see in this data from the State of CX Management, 2018.

Organizations shouldn’t hire people who are racially insensitive and try to train them not to be. They should train employees as part of an overall approach that helps them embrace and keep their customer promises.

The bottom line: Don’t undo employees’ upbringing, get them to embrace your brand values.

P.S. Racial insensitivity is clearly a problem in our society. This is part of why we have made 2018, The Year of Humanity. Please join Temkin Group in our efforts to try and improve humanity!

 

CX Competency: Compelling Brand Values (Video)

Temkin Group has found that the only path to sustainable customer experience differentiation is to build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Four Customer Experience Core Competencies.

This video provides an overview of one of those competencies, Compelling Brand Values, where the goal is to deliver on your brand promises to customers.

Here Are Three Steps to Compelling Brand Values:

compelling brand values


CX Sparks: Guides For Stimulating Customer Experience DiscussionsThis video is a great introduction to a discussion with your team. That’s why we’ve created a CX Sparks guide that you can download and use to lead a stimulating discussion.

Report: Translating Brand Promises into Employee Behaviors

1608_translatingpromisesintobehaviors_coverWe just published a Temkin Group report, Translating Brand Promises into Employee Behaviors. Here’s the executive summary:

Temkin Group has found that the companies that deliver great customer experience use their brand as a blueprint for how they treat customers, which is why Compelling Brand Values is one of our four customer experience core competencies. Too often organizations put a lot of energy into communicating the brand externally, only to fall short on connecting employees to their role in keeping brand promises. And when employees aren’t connected to these promises, they tend to be less proactive, to act inconsistently, and to care less about their work. In this report, we describe three steps that companies can use to translate their brand promises into employee behaviors: Make promises, Embrace promises, and Keep promises. To illustrate this approach, we share over 20 examples of best practices from companies including Anthem, A&W Food Services of Canada, the city of Centennial, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Quest Diagnostics. To evaluate how well your organization follows this approach, use Temkin Group’s Compelling Brand Promises Assessment.

Download report for $195
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Here’s are two of the 15 graphics in the report:

1609_bestpracticemakeembracekeeppromises 1609_promisesmissionvalues

Download report for $195
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Modernize Leadership: Steve Jobs Demonstrates Purpose and Values

wordle4bIn a recent post, I discussed how management practices have become outdated and that there’s a strong need to Modernize Leadership. This change requires eight distinct shifts in how we lead organizations.

I just ran into this great video of a speech that Steve Jobs gave in September 1997. It’s really worth watching. Jobs demonstrates a few of the elements that I discuss in Modernize Leadership, and in particular he does a great job of highlighting this necessary shift:

5) Goals and Objectives to Purpose and Values

The bottom line: Tap into your purpose and values to drive simplicity

Modernize Leadership: Shifting 8 Outdated Management Practices

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Over the previous decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and study thousands of companies. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that the world has changed a lot, but organizational management has stayed substantially the same.

Technology has enabled entirely new practices and we’ve developed a much deeper understanding of what drives human behaviors and business success. But these new realities have not been translated into how leaders run their companies. Instead, management techniques continue to reflect outdated assumptions such as:

  • Mainstream economics works on the assumption of Homo Economicus, a model of people as rational self-interest maximizers. So “agency theory” informs management that employees can’t be trusted to act on behalf of the firm and, therefore, controls must be put in place to align their efforts.
  • Strategic planning cycles (annually, quarterly) have been established based on a constraint of limited data availability. When these processes and cycles were initially created, it was impractical to more frequently pull together meaningful insights about the business.
  • Management focus has been driven by economists like Milton Friedman who argued that corporate officials have one core responsibility: making as much money as possible for their shareholders. But the value that a company creates comes from a combination of resources contributed by different constituencies (not just investors) who’s returns should also be maximized, especially employees who contribute their knowledge and skills.

While these underlying assumptions aren’t necessarily discussed explicitly, they frame the basic structure of today’s approach to management. Well, it’s time to Modernize Leadership. We need to redefine how we run organizations based on the realities of today, which will require more inspiring leaders in the future.

To help make the shift, I plan to write individual posts that describe eight key shifts required to modernize leadership. In those posts I’ll describe the move from:

  1. Command and Control to Engage and Empower
  2. Strategize and Plan to Learn and Adjust
  3. Amass and Review to Detect and Disseminate
  4. Measure and Track to Observe and Improve
  5. Goals and Objectives to Purpose and Values
  6. Problems and Solutions to Strengths and Appreciation
  7. Process and Projects to Culture and Behaviors
  8. Price and Features to Experience and Emotions

ModernizedLeadershipOutdatedAssumptions

The bottom line: Let’s Modernize Leadership together!

Free eBook: People-Centric Experience Design

PCxD_eBook_COVERA few months ago, I introduced a new concept called People-Centric Experience Design™ (PCxD™), which is defined as

Fostering an environment that creates positive, memorable human encounters

Since we believe that the concept can significantly help organizations deliver better customer experience, we’ve decided to publish the concept in a free eBook.

Download eBook for FREE

Experiences are all about people, the customers who interact with your organization and the employees who shape those interactions. Most approaches to customer experience, from voice of the customer programs to customer journey mapping, deal with the logical, left-brain elements of customer experience. But they often fall short on the right-brain, emotional side. That’s where PCxD comes into play.

To achieve PCxD, companies must master three principles:

  1. Align through Purpose. Just about every large organization has vision and mission statements floating around their hallways. But when it comes to making decisions on a day-to-day basis, these documents are nowhere to be found. They play NO ROLE in how the company is actually run. However, customer experience leaders operate differently. Rather than making empty promises, they create and sustain a clear sense of purpose that inspires loyalty from customers and alignment from employees.
  2. Guide with Empathy. People have a natural capacity for empathy. Unfortunately, companies often bring out people’s more selfish tendencies and suppress their empathetic ones by playing into their personal biases and arranging the organizational structure to reward self-centered behavior. For instance, while a typical customer interaction cuts across many functional groups (a single purchase, for instance, may include contact with decisions by product management, sales, marketing, accounts payable, and legal organizations), companies push employees to stay focused solely on their own functional areas. This myopic view is often reinforced by incentives focused on narrow domains, which creates a chasm between empathy and personal success. Companies must elicit human empathy, not selfishness, by sharing a deeper understanding of customers and their needs.
  3. Design for Memories. When it comes to loyalty, customer experience isn’t very important. That’s right, customer experience is not very important. What is important? Memories. People make decisions based on how they remember experiences, not on how they actually experienced them. This distinction is important because people don’t remember experiences the way they actually occur. Rather, people construct memories as stories in their mind based on the fragments of their actual experiences. An improved understanding of how people truly remember things can help you focus on improving the most important moments.

PCxD

Download eBook for FREE

The bottom line: Tap into the power of purpose, empathy, and memories.