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Qualtrics Executive Interview

Fabrice Martin, Chief Product Officer, Qualtrics

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Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner of CrmXchange, interviewed Fabrice Martin, Qualtrics’ Chief Product Officer. Fabrice discussed Qualtrics’ mission to help businesses become more human by providing the right technologies and insights. They focus on customer experience, employee experience, and market research. Qualtrics connects feedback from various channels, empowers front-line employees, and offers real-time shaping of experiences. They also leverage AI technologies and prioritize transparency and trust in their processes.  

Sheri: Thank you for joining us, Fabrice. Would you please provide us with an overview of Qualtrics?

Fabrice: Certainly, Sheri. As the Chief Product Officer at Qualtrics, I oversee one of our three product areas, which is customer experience. We also have employee experience and market research as our other two areas. I joined Qualtrics through the acquisition of ClarabBridge, and I have been in this industry for the past 10 years. At Clarabridge, I held the dual role of Product Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Our company's mission is to help businesses become more human. By that, I mean we provide them with the right technologies, best practices, frameworks, and benchmarking that allow them to truly understand experiences from the customers' perspective.

We initially started as a feedback company over 20 years ago, primarily focusing on surveying customers and employees. However, we have evolved to a point where we now consider various forms of communication as feedback. Whether customers call a company, email them, or post reviews on social media about their products, services, or branding, we consider all of that unstructured data  as valuable feedback. We have developed an extensive and scalable platform that enables our customers to gather all these different data points, organize them in a journey, and gain insights into how individual customers experience their website, store visits, and contact center interactions. This empowers businesses to provide highly personalized and great experiences for their customers.

Sheri: Would it be accurate to categorize Qualtrics as a feedback and analytics company, where you collect data and help businesses take action based on that data?

Fabrice: That's how we started. However, we created a new category called Experience Management in 2017, which is an evolution from pure feedback analysis to driving actions based on that feedback. We are focused on building technologies and capabilities that enable automation, personalization, and integration with third-party systems. Our goal is to ensure that businesses can take meaningful actions based on the insights gained from customer feedback. In March, we rebranded some of our products as "XM" to represent the customer front lines.

While we do provide support for centralized Voice of Customer and analytics teams, our ultimate aim is to empower every single employee at the frontlines to understand what customers want and deliver great experiences. We have defined three categories of frontlines: the digital frontline, customer care in the contact center, and physical locations. By connecting all these experiences and supporting these frontline employees, we provide businesses with a holistic view of their customers instead of treating each touchpoint separately.

Sheri: It's impressive how you aim to help companies view customers holistically. As a customer, I may interact with a company through various channels like their website, contact center, and physical locations. I see it as a single experience with the brand, not isolated transactions. Do you assist companies in achieving this holistic view?

Fabrice: Absolutely, Sheri. Our technology allows us to consider both sides of the equation: the customers and the employees. For example, if a customer calls an insurer regarding an accident, the call may not be pleasant if the customer is not covered. However, the agent can still provide great service and handle the call effectively and should be scored as such. Our technology helps companies treat customers respectfully even in situations where they cannot fulfill all their requests. Simultaneously, we ensure that employees have the necessary tools and information to do their job effectively. By connecting both customer and employee experiences, we create better overall experiences.

We believe that happy employees play a crucial role in delivering great experiences. Therefore, our technology and the customer profiles we store iny, Experience iD,  enables employees to understand customers at an individualized level by providing insights into their full journey with the brand. This integration of customer and employee experiences allows businesses to make better decisions and deliver exceptional service.

Sheri: Once you provide companies with the data, what is the next step? Do you primarily focus on data analysis, or do you also provide consultation to help companies implement changes?

Fabrice: That's a great question. As a software company, our primary focus is on providing the tools to gather information, gain insights, and automate processes. However, we also have a dedicated arm of our business that offers best practices, methodologies, benchmarks, and recommendations. These additional services complement our software offerings. We have 17,000 customers globally across various industries, and we have gathered a wealth of experience and knowledge. We embed these benchmarks and methodologies into our products, which helps our customers ramp up quickly and understand where they stand compared to others in their industry.

Sheri: How can a company get started with Qualtrics?

Fabrice: There are several starting points depending on the needs and priorities of the company. Some customers may begin with an employee experience program, typically initiated by the HR department. They want to connect employee experience with the service they provide to their customers. We have a suite of products that cater to different areas such as employee experience, customer experience, contact center offerings, and digital applications. If a company has a website and wants to gather customer opinions, we can help with that as well with some of our Frontline Digital solutions. Another entry point is market research, where companies use our technology to understand their customers' preferences and develop new products. What sets us apart is our ability to connect all these different aspects.

Sheri: If a company wants to transform their image, understand customer touchpoints, identify areas of customer dissatisfaction, and make their contact center employees more empathetic, would you collaborate with consulting partners like Accenture to analyze the data and provide consultation on implementing changes?

Fabrice: Sometimes we collaborate with consulting partners, but often our customers themselves are at the center of these transformation programs. What they need is the right technology to gather data and make informed decisions. With millions of potential changes that could be made, it is essential to identify the ones that will have a significant impact. Our data provides insights that help businesses determine what to test and understand the impact a change could have   on customer effort, lifetime value, employee performance, and brand perception. We focus on empowering our customers to make those difficult decisions. For instance, Delta Airlines, one of our customers, has undergone a transformation journey with our assistance. By rolling out small but impactful changes, such as providing free Wi-Fi, they have improved customer perception and loyalty.

Sheri: In striving to ensure that every interaction with every employee results in a positive experience, how do you address the human factor? Humans are prone to having bad days occasionally.

Fabrice: That's where employee experience comes into play, as I know your readership is also interested in this aspect. At Qualtrics, we believe in using technology to empower and enable human frontline workers and contact center agents rather than replacing them. We understand that employees may have off days, but by providing them with the right tools and information, we can help them deliver better service. Our technology like Qualtrics Real-Time Agent Assist allows agents to understand customers at an individualized level, based on their full journey and interactions with the brand. This comprehensive view empowers employees to provide personalized and empathetic experiences. Solutions like Automated Call Summaries eliminate manual work for contact center agents by instantly creating a comprehensive summary after each customer call, allowing the agents to focus on serving the customer.  It is a well-known fact that happy employees lead to better overall experiences.

As we gather various data points and provide a holistic view, we take the human factor into account and aim to enhance employee performance.

Sheri: What are your future plans for the next two years?

Fabrice: Looking ahead, we have two primary areas of focus. First, we want to serve the front lines better by providing them with the right tools to react and shape experiences in real time. Traditionally, businesses learn from past experiences and try to improve for future interactions. However, we now have the capability to shape experiences as they are happening. For example, during a customer call, we can provide recommendations to the agent in real time based on the specific conversation and the customer's preferences. This ensures that the interaction is most successful, whether it's a sales conversation or a service call. This real-time shaping of experiences is an exciting area of development for us.

The second area is the application of Generative AI technologies. We believe these technologies will be transformational, particularly for the front lines. Generative AI will allow us to bypass traditional dashboards and provide information in a more conversational manner. Instead of users having to navigate through charts and graphs, anyone will be able to ask a business question using natural language and receive the answer directly. For instance, a restaurant manager could simply ask, "What do I need to improve the experience in my restaurant today?" and receive actionable insights. By leveraging our data and conversational interfaces, we aim to simplify access to information and recommendations.

Sheri: Do you have any final thoughts?

Fabrice: Two key points come to mind. First, when it comes to enhancing customer experience, it's crucial to consider the human aspect. At Qualtrics, we focus on using technology to empower and enable human frontline workers and contact center agents rather than replacing them. We believe in leveraging technology to enhance the human touch and provide exceptional service.

Secondly, as we adopt new technologies, it is essential to do so transparently and mindfully. We prioritize minimizing black boxes and ensuring that our processes and algorithms are explainable, transparent, and objective. Building trust is paramount, and customers should be able to understand why certain conclusions are reached. By adopting a careful and pragmatic approach, we aim to avoid any missteps in this regard, particularly as new AI tools come to market.

Overall, at Qualtrics, we are dedicated to helping businesses become more human by leveraging technology, data, and insights to deliver exceptional customer experiences.