Talking Employee Experience and XM With Ben Granger

Our team joined Qualtrics last October to create the XM Institute, and one of the great things that we’ve found is that there are many people across Qualtrics who are experts in different aspects of Experience Management (XM). So I decided to interview one of them, Ben Granger.

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Ben is a Sr. Principal for Global EX Strategy. He spends his days thinking about and helping organizations design leading-edge EX programs. Like many of the subject matter experts across Qualtrics, Ben had a strong background prior to joining the company. He has a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology and has worked in EX at Verizon.

Here’s our Q&A:

Q1: We describe experience management as a discipline where organizations “continuously learn, propagate insights, and rapidly adapt.” Based on our your work with companies, what do you think that looks like for a company that is really doing well with EX?

Ben: This shows up in the mindset that the organization has around employee experience. Namely, the belief that they will never get it perfect, that EX is a moving target and that they should always look for ways to improve. It’s ironic, actually, that some of the most mature EX programs I run into are run by organizations that seem to always feel like they are behind. They have this thirst to keep pushing things forward. Companies like Quicken Loans and Rogers Communications come immediately to mind – they are always very humble about the current state of their programs but in actuality, their programs are well ahead of others in their industries. I think this is because those organizations or either intentionally or unintentionally treating EX as a discipline.

Q2: We recently defined Six XM Competencies, LEAD, REALIZE, ACTIVATE, ENLIGHTEN, RESPOND, and DISRUPT. Can you share some best EX practices you’ve seen in one or two of the competencies?

Ben: Firstly, I should say that I am a big believer that the “best practices” organizations employ should be heavily dependent on their maturity. 

1907_6XMCOmpetencies3Some of the practices that highly mature EX programs use could backfire if an organization has never done formal employee measurement before. So that is always a consideration we make when we advise our clients. 

That said, one competency that I really like is “Activate”, which is about building the skills, support and motivation for EX. This is where many organizations get stuck in a rut. Leaders see the inherent value of measuring and improving EX but when they think about increasing the measurement of EX, it sounds very daunting because of the way that EX or engagement has been measured in the past. They are jaded by the old school process. So to “Activate” the organization, you really have to change leaders’ mindsets. You have to reframe what “action planning” is, which sometimes involves calling it something different! Basically, instead of handing leaders a dense report of data and charts, give them short and prescriptive readouts that are focused on “what they should do to improve EX”. Instead of forcing them to add “action planning” to their list of things they have to do, provide the EX insights in the same tools and systems they already use. These simple practices show leaders that it can actually be simple to leverage employee insights. 

Another that is a lot of fun is “Enlighten” which is about providing actionable insights across the organization. For this one, I like to borrow the principles and practices from the customer experience side of the house. For example, if you compare how organizations structure their employee surveys and their customer surveys, there is usually a huge difference. The CX surveys tend to be shorter, more conversational, more in-the-moment, and built into the apps and systems that the customers use. On the other hand, the EX surveys are quite the opposite – they are long, tedious and oftentimes require employees to completely leave their work environment to provide feedback. And to be clear, this is absolutely ridiculous and there is no reason why this has to the case! So when we are building the enlighten competency for our EX clients, we focus on those consumer-based principles – simple things like shortening surveys, giving employees multiple avenues to provide feedback (e.g., on their mobile phones), making the survey items more conversational, integrating the feedback into the systems that employees are already using to make feedback part of the process. 

Q3: When you run into companies that are just starting their EX efforts, what are the type of things that you typically recommend that they start with?

Ben: Employee engagement surveys have been under attack in the popular press recently but honestly, I think this is one of the most practical and reasonable places to start on the EX journey. So when I work with organizations that really have never done formal EX measurement in the past, I usually recommend starting with this approach. 

1907_EmployeeFeedback4I think this is important for a couple of reasons: (1) it gives the organization an opportunity to explicitly ask their employees for feedback. I borrow that line from professor Ed Batista because I think it summarizes how important it is for organizations to “explicitly ask their employees for their feedback, (2) it gives everyone in the organization the opportunity to give feedback, and (3) it gives the organization time to build some of those competencies like “realize” and “activate” without overburdening employees or leaders.

For example, if an organization has never done employee surveying before, then before jumping to frequent pulsing, for example, they have to build trust among employees that their feedback won’t be used against them, and that their feedback matters. And on the flip side, you have to build manager capabilities to understand and act on feedback. If this isn’t a natural activity for them, it will take time to build these capabilities. And a traditional engagement survey is a great way to start building that trust among employees and those capabilities among managers. And (4) this is the progression that most organizations have taken. So it’s a well worn path and we know exactly how to evolve EX programs from that starting point. 

Q4: Thinking about the future, what are some of the things that you imagine companies will be doing with their EX programs that they are not typically doing today?

Ben: I mentioned this earlier but I think that we will see a lot more consumer-based principles make their way into EX programs. We are already seeing it happen in mature organizations but this will accelerate in the next few years with the field of XM and the continued war for talent. 

Another that I think we will see more and more of is passive listening. For example, collecting employee experience data from social media and combining those insights with insights from formal, active surveys. We have some clients that are already doing this and it appears to be highly effective so long as organizations don’t misuse them and are transparent with their employees about them. 

And of course, I definitely see much more integration across the pillars of XM. We are only scratching the surface of what’s possible today. The linkage research across EX and CX is nearly 20 years old now and yet, there hasn’t been much in the way of progress in the field since. That will change and that will change quickly. Organizations are going to move well beyond the simple link between things like EX and CX and begin to have a sophisticated understanding of the interrelationships among practices that improve EX, downstream and long term CX outcomes, the brand experiences those practices create and how those brand perceptions, in turn, impact their ability to attract and retain employees and customers. And by the way, my guess is that this whole chain of events and experiences starts with EX!

Q5: When organizations are actively trying to improve EX, what are some of the obstacles that they really need to watch out for?

Ben: Trying to move too fast – this is a self-imposed obstacle in a lot of cases and it is completely avoidable. It is very tempting to want to go from nothing to best-in-class overnight. But this is rarely (if ever) a good idea. As I mentioned earlier, you have to first build trust among employees and capabilities and buy-in among leaders. This takes time to do. And business leaders can get impatient – they invested in improving EX and they want to see returns…today! I try to set my clients’ expectations – EX programs are kind of like diesel engines – they take a little while to get going but once they are running, they just keep on going.

Making assumptions based on anecdotes – this also is super common and avoidable. The point here is that organizations should not bypass legitimate measures of EX in favor of one-off anecdotes or examples. Within XM, we talk about experience gaps and oftentimes, these gaps exist between what organizational leaders “think” is happening and what employees or customers really think. There is nothing wrong with leveraging personal anecdotes and examples but using those as the sole source of information to drive actions or processes intended to improve EX is a terrible idea.

A quick example – I was working with a large retail bank a few years ago and one of the consistent themes that came out of their annual survey was that call center employees were not happy with their “career progression” opportunities. At the time, their survey was not sensitive enough to dive deeper into what employees meant by this. A few sr. leaders reasoned that the way to fix that was to build a formal career progression program to give employees line of sight into their next move. But we suggested that before they did that, we should really try and understand what the employees meant by career progression. And sure enough, we did a follow-up survey and looked at their open ended comments and the employees were actually much more interested in stretch projects and having more autonomy in their day-to-day jobs and opportunities to do different jobs in different departments. This obviously made a huge difference in what the company implemented…and saved them a ton of money by the way.  

Q6: What most excites you about the emerging category of Experience Management?

Ben: I mentioned it a few times but I am super excited about what we can learn and leverage from the CX space. I have learned so much from my CX counterparts over the last few years.

I also legitimately think XM is going to make the business world much more human. If you think about it, what XM essentially states is that it’s actually better for business if you do right by your employees, your customers and your stakeholders. Imagine if the opposite were true or if organizations perceived the opposite to be true? IF that were the case, our lives would be much worse! 

But luckily that is NOT the case. So XM will continue to prove this to be the case and eventually the organizations that provide the best experiences will be the ones still standing…and that is a great thing for all of us!

Q7: Now for something a bit more personal, what is your favorite quote from a movie, and why does it resonate with you?

Ben: “Where we’re going we don’t need roads” – Doc Brown from Back to the Future II.

First of all, this is one my favorite movie trilogies of all time – I could watch the first two movies over and over and never get tired. 

But tying it to EX, it really resonates with me that we often think about the future in terms of what we’ve done or what we’ve had to do in the past. Like when leaders immediately get scared of something like lifecycle feedback or pulse surveys because they immediately think about how painful running that one annual survey was in the past. Sometimes, we have to forget the past and imagine what it could/should be like. 

Debriefing My Qualtrics X4 Experience

X4_ImageLast week I joined more than 10,000 XM enthusiasts at the Qualtrics X4 Summit in Salt Lake City. This was my fourth X4, and the first one since joining Qualtrics. I really enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting many new ones. We have some really awesome clients!

My head is still spinning from the amazing event. Over two days, we were treated to the most incredible line-up of speakers, including President Obama, Oprah, Sir Richard Branson, Ashton Kutcher, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds. Add to that an Imagine Dragons concert, skateboard exhibition by Tony Hawk and his friends, and a dance contest to support 5 for the Fight (including tWitch). And yes, there were also a bunch of fantastic industry speakers.

There were so many extraordinary experiential elements around the event, including the environment for my two speeches. One of my talks was in a very large open space where attendees listened through headsets and the other was in an informal setting that was part of a private lounge for senior leaders. (Note: I’ll write another post to share some of that content).

Here are some of my favorite X4 moments:

  • Oprah was just purely amazing and inspiring. She talked a lot about the importance of “intention,” having clarity of your personal purpose (I am totally bought into the power of purpose). Some other lessons from her include, “your legacy is every life you touch,”  “notice what you have, not what you don’t have, and you will recognize the abundance around you,” and you need to acknowledge and validate other people. Her closing question challenged all of us: How do you use your true self in service of the world? And, I’m still chuckling about her discussion with Ryan Smith about Barnaby.
  • President Obama was so chill. He looked calm and loose, which made it very entertaining. He discussed his approach for making difficult decisions: “setup a process to figure the thing out with facts, data, and reason.” He made sure that the people in his administration were there for the right reason; not personal gain, but achieving their common mission. He required everyone to have integrity at their core. One of my favorite moments was when Obama quoted from The Departed. He discussed a scene where Mark Wahlberg’s character is asked who are you? and answers “I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.” Obama said that his staff would often use the phrase “Don’t be the other guy.” He also left us with an important charge, “focus more on our common hopes, dreams, and values, not on the things that pull us apart, and we can accomplish great things.
  • Adam Silver really surprised me. I’m a big fan of his work with the NBA, and have seen him speak at the MIT Sports Analytics Conference. But I never knew he was such a data guy. He discussed XM, like a pro. He clearly articulated how the combination of SAP and Qualtrics would help the NBA. He even discussed X-and O-data!
  • Sir Richard Branson was truly authentic. He seems like a great person to work for. He discussed how you purposely help more and more people as you get successful, expanding the circles from yourself, to your family, to your community, to the world. He called the American holiday system “a total disgrace” for not allowing workers to have more time off.  Branson believes that “every day is a fantastic learning experience,” and he also believes in promoting from within and delegating. This is what he had to say about brand, “you are only as good as your reputation, and you will need to zealously protect it.” He will only get into a new business if employees will be really proud and customers will sing its praise.
  • Bill McDermott explained why SAP & Qualtrics makes so much sense. He described SAP as a company with ‘a great brand and a good heart.’ Not only is that the type of company I want to work for, but it’s also how I would love to be personally viewed by other people. McDermott labeled XM as “the ultimate category” for enterprise software. He summed up the acquisition with a quote from Jerry Maguire, “Qualtrics completes us.” You can see a lot of what he said in this really good article.
  • Qualtrics employees delivered awesome content. Ryan And Jared Smith did a great job sharing the XM vision and highlighting amazing new capabilities in our XM platform. I was really proud of all of the Qualtrics speakers that I was able to see. The overall storyline at the event was that organizations often fail because they get blindsided; they lack good instrumentation. In order to deliver breakthrough experiences, you need more XM instrumentation.
  • Our new offerings are incredible. We announced a crazy number of game-changing additions to the Qualtrics XM Platform. We’re using AI in many areas across the platform, including to analyze data and create automated alerts about potential problems and opportunities. And our new mobile experience is pretty cool as well. Here are links to some of the other announcements:

I’ll end this post with a shout out to our XM Breakout Artist Winners:

  • CX: American Express
  • EX: Coca-Cola
  • PX: Belkin
  • BX: Sofi
  • XM: L.L.Bean

The bottom line: X4 was amazing; I’m already looking forward to next year.

The Engaging Power Of Employee Feedback

Does your organization listen to its employees? I mean, really listen and act on what they say. Based on what our research has uncovered, it’s likely that the true answer is “no.” Check out some data from our recent research:

  • In our Q3 2018 Consumer Benchmark Study, we found that 40% of full time U.S. employees strongly agrees with the statement, “My company asks for my feedback and acts upon what I say.”
  • In the report, Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity, 2018, we found that only 40% of executives within large organizations  put a high priority on taking action based on results from employee engagement studies.

Does it really matter? Yes! While there is enormous value from using employee feedback to improve your business, the true win might be in how it improves the engagement level of those employees.

To understand this phenomena, we examined the relationship between how employees think their company listens to and acts on their feedback, and the degree to which those employees are willing to do something good for their company even if it’s not expected of them. Eighty-two percent of employee who strongly agree that their company takes action on their feedback are likely to do something good for the company, compared with only 30% of those who do not agree.

We decided to dig deeper into the data and look at how this relationship differs across employee roles. As you can see in the chart below:

  • Executives (87%) are the most likely to do something good for the company if their feedback is acted upon.
  • Financial services sales or relationship management employees (19%) are the least likely to do something good for the company if their feedback is not acted upon.
  • The “do-good gap” is largest for B2B sales or relationship workers, where there’s a 65-point difference in employees’ likelihood to do something good for the company based on how the company deals with their feedback.

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The bottom line: Employee feedback is an under-appreciated gift.

The Inextricable Link Between CX & EX

CXEX_LinkedIn.pngIf you’ve followed our research, then you know that we’ve always viewed employee engagement as a fundamental component of customer experience.  One of our Six Laws of Customer Experience is that “Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.” It just makes sense. How can you possibly expect to consistently deliver great customer experience with apathetic or disengaged employees?!?!

Although the connection between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) may seem obvious to many people, it’s important that we periodically test the linkage. So we took a look at the data from our survey that drove the report, State of CX Management, 2018.

We started by splitting the 194 respondents from companies that have 1,000 or more employees into three groups based on how they rated the customer experience that their organizations currently delivers compared with their competitors:

  • 51 companies that deliver considerably above average CX (“CX Leaders“)
  • 61 companies that deliver slightly above average CX (“CX Moderates“)
  • 82 companies that deliver average or below average CX (“CX Laggards“)

We compared their responses to Temkin Group’s 20-question CX Competency & Maturity Assessment. As you can see in the chart below:

  • The percentage of CX Leaders who earned “good” or “very good” employee engagement ratings is more than 5-times larger than the percentage of CX Laggards.
  • Most organizations have a long way to go on EX; less than 40% of CX Leaders are good at it–and they’re the best!
  • CX Leaders significantly outperformed CX Laggards across all five employee engagement behaviors in our assessment. Here are the gaps in the percentages of companies that either “always” or “almost always” demonstrate these behaviors:
    • My company celebrates and rewards the employees who exemplify its core values (32 %-point gap)
    • My company actively solicits and acts upon employee feedback (35 %-point gap)
    • Managers are evaluated based on the engagement level of their employees (38 %-point gap)
    • The human resources organization is actively involved in strategic initiatives (36 %-point gap)
    • My company provides employees with industry-leading training (31 %-point gap)

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The bottom line: EX is a fundamental enabler of CX.

CX Myth #6: Compensation Drives Good CX Behaviors

CX Myths: Debunking Misleading Beliefs About Customer Experience

Many common beliefs about customer experience are misguided, based on oversimplifications or a lack of consideration for real-world constraints. In this series of posts, we debunk these myths.


CX Myth #6: Compensation Drives Good CX Behaviors

What’s Wrong: Many organizations try to drive behavior change by tying employees’ compensation to customer experience metrics. While some level of compensation tied to CX can be helpful, it is often overdone. When you overly compensate on a single metric, it can often lead to unintended and detrimental consequences. Symptoms of these counterproductive behaviors include pestering customers for scores; focusing on activities that may improve scores, but aren’t good for the business; and actively debating the accuracy of the metrics. Rather than engaging in these activities, we want employees focusing on ways to improve customer experience.

What’s Right: Don’t use compensation to drive behavior change; instead, use it to reward good behaviors. With that in mind, you need to find other mechanisms to drive change, such as appealing to employee’s four intrinsic needs; their sense of meaning, control, progress, and competence. As I’ve previously written, keep in mind these three underlying principles about compensation:

  1. If there is significant compensation tied to any metric (including customer feedback), then people will look for ways to manipulate the measurement.
  2. If people don’t understand a metric, then tying compensation to it will have little impact on their behavior and any downside in compensation may create negative behaviors.
  3. If people don’t understand how they personally can affect a metric, then tying compensation to it will have little impact on their behavior and any downside in compensation may create negative behaviors.

What You Should Do:

  • Treat CX as a team sport. Your customers’ experience is almost never the result of a single person, even if that person is the only one interacting with the customer. So focus on team-level metrics and compensation that encourages key groups of employees to work together towards a shared objective.
  • Use an organization-wide CX metric. Developing a core CX metric for the entire organization that is tied to some compensation (not too large), is a great way to show commitment to improving CX, and it will encourage a regular dialogue about your overall CX performance.
  • Bias rewards towards the upside. Consider starting with a compensation plan that is biased towards upside. In other words, you may want to introduce the plan where there is little negative impact on compensation if the group doesn’t hit a goal, but there is positive impact of they exceed it. This can help eliminate some of the negative perceptions early in a program.
  • Celebrate good CX behaviors. Compensation is not the only reward system in an organization. If you want employees to behave in a certain way, then provide them with positive role models. Find ways to highlight employees who are demonstrating the behaviors that you would like others to emulate. This can include monthly or quarterly awards, shout outs at company meetings, or highlights across your internal communications.
  • Make it unacceptable to game the scores. When an employee asks a customer to “give me a 10 on a survey or I’ll get fired,” can you really count on the accuracy of that customer’s rating? This may be an extreme example of “gaming feedback,” but many versions of this behavior occur all the time. To keep gaming feedback in check, it’s important to be explicit with employees about what the company considers to be unacceptable behaviors.  I’ve identified five rules that you should strictly enforce with employees, which includes not talking with customers about survey questions, scores, or consequences.

The bottom line: Use compensation to reinforce, not force, good CX behaviors.

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!

CX Leaders’ Employees Feel Prouder & More Appreciated

If you’ve followed our research, then you’ve likely seen a strong, almost inseparable link between between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX). We continued to find that connection in our latest consumer benchmark.

In our Q3 2018 study, we asked 5,000+ U.S. employees to pick a word that best describes how their job makes them feel and split those responses based on how they judged the overall CX that their company delivers. As you can see in the figure below:

  • More than 80% of employees that picked “proud” and “appreciated” work in organizations that they believe are CX leaders. “Confident” is next on the list at 74%.
  • When employees picked “embarrassed” and “angry,” they were the least likely to work for CX leaders and the most likely to work in CX laggards.

Employee attitudes versus customer experience (CX)

The bottom line: CX leaders have proud employees, CX laggards have angry ones.

Employees Want To Make A Positive Impact

What motivates employees? This may seem like a difficult question to answer, but it’s not hard at all. There’s one overwhelming answer: Making a positive difference.

In our latest consumer benchmark study, we asked more than 5,000 full-time U.S. employees to select which of eight job characteristics they felt was the most important. Here’s what we found:

  • Making a positive impact: 42%
  • Earning a lot of money: 14%
  • Advancing your career: 13%
  • Building stronger skills: 12%
  • Using your judgment: 8%
  • Being seen as a top performer: 6%
  • Making friends at work: 3%
  • Impressing your family and friends: 2%

Making a positive impact is also the most important job characteristic across all age groups. As you can see below, it becomes increasingly more important as employees get older. For the youngest employees, being seen as a top performer comes in a close second place, but nothing is even close with older employees.

1811_JobImportanceByAge_v1

We also asked employees about the elements of their job that they enjoy. The chart below shows that once again, making a positive impact comes out on top across age groups and increases with age. For younger employees, building stronger skills is a very close second. As employees get older, using your judgement becomes an increasingly enjoyable element of their job.

1811_JobEnjoymentByAge_v1

The bottom line: Help employees feel like they’re making a positive impact.

What’s All This About X- And O-Data?

1811_XODataYou might have heard Qualtrics discussing X-data (experience data) and O-data (operational data), and wondered, should we care? The answer is yes, and here’s why.

Let’s start with a basic premise that no individual experience exists in a vacuum. People form their opinions about any experience based on a collection of different factors. The more we can understand those factors, the better we can extrapolate the insights about a single personal experience to form a deeper understanding about other people’s experiences.

Now to my discussion of Xs and Os, starting with customer experience (CX)…

Let’s say that your company has this data:

  • X-Data: NPS responses
  • O-Data: Customer product ownership and support history.

With X-data, you can calculate an NPS for the customers who responded. You can also dig into their feedback, and hopefully understand what’s causing promoters and what’s causing detractors.

That’s extremely valuable, but it only tells you what’s going on with the people who happened to respond to the survey.

By combining O-data with your X-data you can examine (especially through predictive analytics) what types of products and service interactions lead to promoters and detractors, and use this data to calculate the NPS for large portions of your customer base–—even for customers who never responded to a survey.

It could be that ownership of a certain version of a product tied together with a specific type of customer service problem is highly likely to create detractors. You can identify all the customers with that profile and take proactive measures to correct the issues — even though they may never have complained.

Result: More loyal customers and more targeted use of your resources.

This works across all areas, even with employee experience (EX). Let’s assume you have this data:

  • X-Data: Employee satisfaction study
  • O-Data: Employee tenure, promotion history, most recent performance rating

With X-data, you can determine how employees feel about their next steps at the company. You can also dig into their feedback, and hopefully understand what’s causing higher vs. lower levels of career satisfaction.

By combining O-data with your X-data you can examine what influence tenure, promotion history, and performance may have on satisfaction, and use this data to identify segments of employees to invite to participate in a high-potential development program.

Result: More high-performing workforce because you’re investing in the right employees.

Hopefully you can see how the combination of X- and O-data can increase your CX and EX insights. The same dynamic also holds true for brand experience (BX) and product experience (PX). By combining and analyzing the different types of data, you can use feedback from a few people to build an understanding of many, many more. This allows you to better prioritize investments, while making more targeted and impactful changes.

The bottom line: X- and O-data together provides an analytics goldmine.

For Employees, A Positive Impact Means More Than Money

In our latest consumer benchmark study, we asked more than 5,000 U.S. employees what they felt was the most important thing they want to accomplish at work. The top motivator, by a very large margin, is Making a positive impact. This option was chosen three times more frequently than the next highest option, Earning a lot of money.

I also examined the data by age groups. It turns out that almost all of the items are very correlated to age. Making a positive impact starts at 27% for the youngest workers and grows to 59% for the oldest group. Advancing your career starts off at 22% for the youngest group and drops to 2% for the oldest employees.
The bottom line: Help your employee make a more positive impact.

eBook: Humanizing Customer Experience

Temkin Group eBook: Humanizing Customer Experience (CX)Temkin Group has labeled 2018 “The Year of Humanity.” To support this theme, over the past year we have conducted research and developed content – such as this eBook – specifically aimed at helping fellow CX professionals improve the world around us. In this eBook, Humanizing Customer Experience, you will learn about:

  • The Six Key Traits Of Human Beings that are important to understand how people think, feel, and act.
  • How individuals can improve humanity by embracing diversity, extending compassion, and expressing appreciation.
  • Three strategies for CX professionals to improve humanity: act with purpose, create positive memories, and cultivate deep empathy.

Temkin Group eBook: Humanizing Customer Experience (CX)

 

Propelling Experience Design (Infographic)

In the report Propelling Experience Design Across An Organization, we examine how companies can best use a very important skill, experience design. This infographic provides an overview.

Here are links to download different versions of the infographic:

Here are some of the reports with data included in the infographic:

The Six Key Traits of Human Beings (Video)

One of the most important – but often forgotten – elements of customer experience is that it’s all about human beings. Customers are human beings, employees are human beings, and executives are human beings. This video identifies six key characteristics to keep in mind whenever you’re dealing with all types of people.


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.


Video Script:

One of the most important – but often forgotten – elements of customer experience is that it’s all about human beings. Customers are human beings, employees are human beings, and executives are human beings.

So if you want to improve customer experience, you need to understand and embrace how human beings actually think and behave.

But human beings are complex and can be difficult to fully understand. That’s why Temkin Group has identified Six Key Traits of Human Beings, which you will need to keep in mind at all times.

Six Key Traits Of Human Beings

First of all, human beings are INTUITIVE. People have two different modes of decision making. One mode is rational, which is slow, logical, and deliberate. The second mode is intuitive, which is fast, automatic, and based on biases and a set of heuristics, or rules of thumb.

Human beings make almost all of their decisions using the intuitive mode, but organizations focus most of their attention on customers’ rational behavior. You can better meet customers‘ needs by catering to their intuitive mode.

Human beings are also SELF-CENTERED. We look at the world through our own personal perspective, which, because of our unique life experiences, is totally different than anyone else’s.  This individual perspective often separates employees and customers, as employees are more familiar with their company than customers are. This knowledge gap frequently causes miscommunications and a lack of empathy. Once we recognize our self-centeredness, we can take steps to mitigate the issues it creates.

Human beings are EMOTIONAL. We remember experiences based on how they make us feel. Our memories are not like video cameras, they’re more like an Instagram account where we take pictures whenever we feel strong emotions, and then we judge that experience in the future based on reviewing those pictures. That’s why it’s critical to proactively think about which emotions an experience is likely to generate.

Human beings are MOTIVATED. We all strive to fulfill our four intrinsic needs: a sense of meaning, control, progress, and competence. So when we think about the people who work for us and with us, we need to spend less time focusing on their compensation and more time helping them fulfill their intrinsic needs.

Human beings are also SOCIAL. We want to connect with other people who are “like us,” and we tend to trust those people more than we trust other people or institutions. So to create good experiences, we should not only recognize that people’s social groups are an important area of influence, we should also help employees and customers build meaningful connections between themselves and each other

And finally, human beings are HOPEFUL. We flourish when we envision a positive future. So you can motivate employees, leaders, customers, and partners by painting a picture of future success that addresses their needs and aspirations.

Make sure to focus on these Six Key Traits of Human Beings whenever you are thinking about customers, employees, leaders, or partners. It will allow you to better influence their behaviors and fulfill their needs.

If being customer-centric matters to your organization, then why leave it to chance? Contact Temkin Group, the customer experience experts, by emailing info@temkingroup.com, or visit our website, at TemkinGroup.com.

Report: Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity, 2018

Purchase report: Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity, 2018We just published a Temkin Group report, Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity, 2018. Here’s the executive summary of this annual review of employee engagement activities, competencies, and maturity levels for large companies:

To understand how companies are engaging their employees, we surveyed 178 large companies and compared their responses with similar studies we’ve conducted in previous years. We also asked survey respondents to complete Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity (EECM) Assessment. The EECM Assessment places companies in one of five stages of maturity and evaluates their performance across five employee engagement competencies: Inspire, Inform, Instruct, Incent, and Involve. Highlights from our analysis of their responses include:

  • Team leaders of non-customer-facing groups are the least supportive of customer-centric activities.
  • Nearly 70% of companies measure employee engagement at least annually, yet only 40% of executives consider acting on the results to be a high priority.
  • The top obstacle to employee engagement activities continues to be the lack of an employee engagement strategy.
  • While only 19% of companies are in the top two stages of employee engagement maturity, 49% are in the bottom two.
  • When we compared companies with above average employee engagement maturity to those with lower maturity, we found that employee engagement leaders have better customer experience, enjoy better financial results, have more coordinated employee engagement efforts, have more widespread support across employee groups, are more likely to act on employee feedback, and face fewer obstacles than their counterparts with less engaged workforces.
  • You can use the results of the EECM Assessment to benchmark your own employee engagement activities.

Download report for $195+
Buy employee engagement competency and maturity report

Here’s an excerpt from two of the 19 graphics that shows the maturity levels of employee engagement efforts in large companies and their effectiveness across five employee engagement competencies:

Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity ModelEmployee Engagement Competency & Maturity Levels of Large Organizations

Download report for $195+download employee engagement competency report


Report Outline:

  • Employee Engagement Efforts Are Underway
  • Assessing Employee Engagement Competencies and Maturity
  • Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  • Propel Your Employee Engagement Efforts

 

Figures in the Report:

  1. Importance of Employee Engagement and Customer-Centric Culture
  2. Support For Customer-Centric Activities
  3. Employee Engagement Measurement
  4. Overview of Employee Engagement Activities
  5. Employee Engagement Obstacles, 2016 to 2018
  6. Employee Engagement Competencies and Maturity Levels
  7. Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity Assessment
  8. Results From Employee Engagement Competency Assessment
  9. Results From Employee Engagement Competency AssessmentBetween 2016 and 2018
  10. Highest Performing Employee Engagement (EE) Competency Elements
  11. Lowest Performing Employee Engagement (EE) Competency Elements
  12. Customer Experience and Financial Results: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  13. Organizational Culture: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  14. Executive Priorities: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  15. Overview of Employee Engagement Activities: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  16. Employee Engagement Measurement: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  17. Support For Customer-Centric Activities: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  18. Employee Engagement Obstacles: Employee Engagement Leaders Versus Laggards
  19. Percentiles of Results From Temkin Group Employee Engagement Competency Assessment

Download report for $195+
Buy employee engagement competency and maturity report

The Employee Engagement Virtuous Cycle (Video)

Why should you care about Employee Engagement? Because it fuels a virtuous cycle that drive customer experience and business success. Take a look…

Video Script:

Did you know that engaged employees are really, really valuable? Temkin Group’s research shows that when employees are highly engaged, they are much more likely to behave in ways that help your organization:

  • They stay late at work if something needs to be done
  • They help other people
  • Do good things for the company, even when it’s not expected of them
  • And they make recommendations about improvements

Don’t you want employees like that on your team?

Our research also shows that companies with more engaged employees deliver better customer experience.

That’s the first connection in what we call the Employee Engagement Virtuous Cycle.

Employee Engagement Virtuous Cycle (Temkin Group)

Here’s how it works:

Engaged employees create great customer experiences, which in turn create more loyal customers. This leads to stronger financial results for the organization.

With happy customers, employees are prouder of their work, which lowers turnover rates. Collectively, this improves financial results and provides more resources for investing in employees.

Are you doing enough to fuel the front end of this virtuous cycle?

To raise employee engagement in your organization, visit Temkin Group, the employee engagement experts at StartWithEmployees.com.