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Do Your Homework

Release Date: October 8, 2019 • Episode #87

Companies often hire implementation specialists to help get their customer listening technology up and running, but don’t do the necessary preparation required to make the process happen smoothly. Guest host Pat Gibbons welcome Walker technology consultants Liz Wallshield and Charlie Rumsey to talk about some of the step companies should take to make the implementation process happen smoothly and on schedule.

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Pat:
You've just invested in a new service that's going to help gather customer feedback. So naturally you've come up with an implementation strategy, right?

Liz:
It sounds silly and I think most people can intuit this, but just sitting down and writing down your survey questions before you get into the platform is something that a lot of folks don't take the time to do. It can get quite complex and having that plan going in is a good idea.

Pat:
Making sure you've done all the necessary preparation for implementing your technology, on this episode of the CX Leader podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients gain a competitive advantage by delivering an exceptional experience for their customers. You can find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Pat:
Hello, everyone. I'm Pat Gibbons. I'm filling in for Steve Walker as guest host of the CX Leader Podcast, and thank you for listening. On the CX Leader Podcast, we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you.

Pat:
So here's a scenario: you've spent a few months evaluating software for gathering customer feedback. You're confident in your decision. You've purchased the right licenses and you're ready to move forward. But have you thought through the details of how you're going to implement that service? Do you know what you're going to ask and how you're going to plan to gather that information? Taking time to plan how you're going to gather customer insights might sound like an obvious next step, but too many companies forget to do their homework before they dig in. And that, it can cost you in the long run. So joining me in the studio are Liz Wallsheild and Charlie Rumsey, both are colleagues of mine here at Walker. And they are technology consultants that deal with these issues every day. They're here at Walker and we're going to give some helpful advice and tips on the best practices in preparing to implement your technology. Liz, Charlie, welcome to the CX Leader Podcast.

Charlie:
Th ank you. Good to be here.

Liz:
Thanks for having us.

Pat:
So, you know, this is a really fascinating topic. And, you know, I'm going to tell the listeners upfront, this is one where we getting into the weeds.

Liz:
[Laughing] For sure.

Charlie:
Yeah. [Laughing]

Pat:
We're gonna get into some of the weeds here. But, you know, in our business, we work with so many companies. Just to give people an example, over the last two years, we've had about 500 companies that we have aided in getting them up and running on their technology. And let's say it's fair to say that we've learned a few things over the time, so why not take some time… and so many people are in this position where either they're getting onto their first platform or maybe they're shifting from one platform to another. And these steps, if you know, you can longate the process and most of them, when they make that purchase, they're ready to go. So we're going to try to help them today. So first, Charlie, why don't you kick us off? And just briefly, tell us a little about your role and kind of how you do that day to day.

Charlie:
Sure. Yeah. So a technology consultant here at Walker wears a couple of hats. But I think the main thing to kind of think about is we're trying to take clients both brand new to the CX or XM space and those who have been in it for a while. And we're trying to take their program to the next level so that we get them kicked off on a trial basis or maybe a pilot to get those surveys out, collect those results, or for clients who have been around the CX space for a while to take their program to the next level, enhance their surveys, perhaps make it so we're going to reach a new, a new audience, expand those horizons, and Liz may have something to add to that as well.

Liz:
Yeah, I think some of it is just getting acquainted with new software either way. So making sure that you're confident in running your own program or in partnering with us long term to advise us in doing the technical day to day for running your program.

Pat:
Yeah, and people want to dig in, right? I mean they've just in many cases gone through a lot of research to make this decision. Let's go, right?

Liz:
Yeah, they want to use every single tool that they bought. They want to know that they're getting the best out of every feature that they can.

Pat:
Yeah. So generally it starts with what they want to ask. You know, they're usually going into this thing. We've got a lot of things we want to learn from our customers from a technology perspective. What are some of the things they need to do before they start building that first survey and trying to push out things? Liz, what do you think?

Liz:
It sounds silly and I think most people can intuit this, but just sitting down and writing down your survey questions before you get into the platform is something that a lot of folks don't take the time to do. They think this is going to take too long. And I'm just going to jump straight into it. But having those conversations, you know, with your colleagues on a whiteboard or on the back of a napkin or most of the time we see people designing them in word where you're not only writing out the words of the questions, but also are there people who should see some questions but not other questions? What's the logic behind the scenes that you want to be invisible to your respondent and really plan and map that all out – really quick process if you're asking a two question survey. But it can get quite complex and having that plan going in is a good idea.

Pat:
Yeah, Charlie, I mean, it seems like… you probably get a lot of questions like the types of questions whether they should be in a table format or, you know, all that. I mean, are those the kinds of things people need to think through before they start entering data?

Charlie:
Yeah, I think absolutely. You know, I think as well you start to plan out the questions you're going to ask and maybe you realize maybe we don't need to ask as many things. I think when people think through surveys in their head, they have all these grand ideas and grand visions of what we're going to ask when you get right down to it, start to put the thought and maybe you can ask a little bit less and kind of key and on some certain data points, that's really going to drive you forward.

Pat:
Yeah. So I'm sure the next step or a key step along the way is integrating with I.T. Tell us some of the things that people need to be thinking about as they do that.

Charlie:
Yeah. So I think one big thing is getting all those folks in the room as early as possible. You know, pretty much every organization nowadays has a number of different I.T. teams integrating with a number of different platforms, whether it be Salesforce, Marketo, Tableau, what have you. So getting those folks in the room early, understanding what we're going to need to do, both on the Qualtrics side and on all those platforms you're using side to kind of get that going.

Liz:
And then the other thing I would kind of add to that is if you have constraints around your I.T. team, which almost everyone does, understanding what date can they start and what date does their availability end and coordinating that, especially if you're working with a software partner who's helping train these folks on the parts of the platform that maybe you don't touch every day is important. And a lot of people are in a position where sometimes you're buying when you have the budget and not when you have all of your I.T. resources. And if you can identify that upfront and find who has flexibility and maybe push back your implementation start date to align everything. It's something that you want to know before you start rather than three or four weeks into an implementation. And then you have to go on hold and you lose momentum.

Pat:
Yeah, I'm interested in kind of an example of that 'cause I'm, as, I'm picturing a situation where they are jumping from project to project and this is just one of many projects they have going on and they're kind of getting in and trying to go look at what do you want and all that sort of thing. I mean, is that what you deal with?

Liz:
Yeah, for sure. In fact, even beyond I.T., I've found on a recent project in the pharmaceutical area, we had to go on hold for the past four weeks because legal had to review the survey and they didn't realize that when they started authoring the survey. So we've built the survey. And as far as we're concerned, it's ready to go, but we can't move forward until we know all of the edits from legal. So we've had to be on hold for four weeks until we have someone available to do that full review.

Charlie:
Yeah, I think that's an excellent point. When we say integration we often think of other platforms, and I.T. But I think when you're trying to launch a robust CX program, you think of integration as your organization entirely, whether that be your legal team, your I.T. teams, a database person point contact information for you. So it goes beyond just the I.T. sphere. I mean, I think, you know, if you're really trying to launch a large program that brings your whole organization.

Announcer:
Do you have an idea for a topic that you'd like us to cover? A suggestion on how we can improve the program or just want to let us know how much you enjoy listening? Email the CX Leader Podcast at podcast@walkerinfo.com. We'd love to hear your feedback on how we're doing. That's podcast@walkerinfo.com.

Pat:
Now one of the topics that we were talking about before the podcast was accessibility. And I don't mean accessing the Internet. You know, you guys were explaining some of the finer details of things like when an organization knows that some of their customers have special needs, be it through sight or how, you know, maybe they have a physical ailment, that sort of thing, and how those have to be built into a survey, or at least you have to know in advance if those things have to be built in. Tell us a little more about that.

Liz:
For sure. I mean, accessibility is an area where I'm particularly passionate and in surveys. A lot of times the biggest consideration goes around folks who have low or no vision or they're color blind. That's another thing that I'm sure anyone who does a lot of graphic design would have encountered a lot. And thinking through what's the user's experience going to be if instead of using a mouse to navigate around the screen, they need to use their keyboard and a screen reading kind of interface that's going to read that screen for them? Is it going to be able to pick up images? Are they going to miss details? Are they going to just not be able to interact with, say, a question that requires them to drag and drop an item. And anticipating those needs and also seeking out free resources, especially at some survey platforms. You know, we work primarily in Qualtrics and it has help making sure that you meet guidelines. And those guidelines are in the U.S. called Section 508, And internationally, they're called WCAG. W, C, A, G. You want to Google it.

Pat:
[Laughing] We warned people we would get into the weeds here.

Liz:
I know, right? Well, and it's really just something you can Google and find free resources on… on best practices. But then some platforms also have built-in checkers that'll say, hey, you can't use this question type if you want this to be accessible.

Pat:
And are people attuned to that? Or when you talk to people, are they like, oh, I never thought of that? Or is it all across the board?

Charlie:
Yeah, I think not necessarily something you think about right away, but when it's brought up, I think it definitely strikes a lot of people. That's something we should certainly consider. So I think Liz has more experience than I and can speak to it more.

Liz:
Well, it's really interesting because it's been not on the radar of a lot of private companies for a very long time, but it's been much more in the thoughts of people who are in the academic space and especially in federal government, to a lesser extent in state and local government as something that they must do. And then depending on your audience, it may also not be relevant. I, in a former life, I worked on some web content with the Air Force and anything for the pilots. None of… all of them had excellent vision, probably better than me.

Pat:
Right.

Liz:
So we didn't necessarily have to think of all these considerations.

Pat:
Yeah. Yeah. But more and more, you know, we're trying to be inclusive. I think most companies are becoming more and more sensitive to those topics.

Liz:
Especially with over the customer facing survey. If you're asking someone for feedback and then they can't give it to you, that can create a bad experience that maybe you hadn't anticipated and affect things in an unexpected and also hard to measure way because they are also not giving you feedback.

Pat:
Right. Right. So along with the accessibility, we have to think about, how are people responding to the questions that are out there; what devices are they using and so forth? How do you address that in the process?

Charlie:
Yeah, I think more and more we're seeing the move to mobile, the worldwide revolution to mobile devices. So we have to think about that with our… our question creation. I mean, now we see some questions that may not fit so well on, on a mobile device or an iPad or something like that. So that's something to take into consideration, too, as you're thinking through your questions, is what's going to fit on a mobile device. Because more and more we're seeing people responding that way and along those lines as well, you know, utilizing some sort of messaging beyond just e-mail to to get some responses as well.

Liz:
Good 'ole S.M.S. survey. [Laughing]

Charlie:
Good 'ole S.M.S.

Liz:
That's a little limited in terms of the question types but you get a pretty good response rate usually. And yeah… still with the mobile, I think. And Charlie, you probably think of other things, too, but you know, you're talking about in the accessibility like being a point and click instead of drag and drop. And I think it's the amount of scrolling and the number of clicks on a mobile device can really impact whether someone's going to finish your survey. So avoiding really long scrolling questions like matrix tables, which every survey author loves and every respondent hates because those can get quite long and don't always present well on mobile.

Pat:
So really a lot of your role is to help the author as, to use your terms, put themselves in the shoes of the respondent.

Liz:
Right. Yes.

Pat:
You know, to say what if they're using a mobile device? What if they can't manage a mouse? You know, all those sorts of things, you're helping to improve that experience. That's great. It's great.

Pat:
Let's let's go to the other end of the spectrum, we've talked about things they have to think about when they're constructing the feedback and understanding what they want to know. What about when they're reporting it out and they're talking about reports and dashboards and that sort of thing? Charlie, what do you think?

Charlie:
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. I think the first thing you've got to think about is, you know, who's going to see this information within your organization? That's a tough question for a lot of people to answer because the data can be so valuable. But if you just give it to everybody, they're not going know what to do with it, especially. So you gotta you gotta think about your restrictions you're gonna put on that information. You know, that's key teams to get that kind of thing. So definitely something to think about and I think a lot of people do overlook it initially. And then that comes back to bite them in the end, kind of trying to get everything in an a on a tight timeline.

Pat:
Do you have times where you're like, okay, you know, let's talk about who's going to use this and how they're going to use this? And they're kind of like, gosh, we're working on the survey. [Laughing] I mean, do you get times where they're just not thinking ahead like that?

Liz:
Oh, for sure. And I would say when people hit a wall like that, if they've done any other kind of reporting, whether it's from a formal CX or XM in general program that they've done before or something else, we can sit down and talk about how do you usually break up your data for other areas in your company? And maybe we can say. Do you think this is applicable? We can have a conversation there, because if you don't identify… for instance, I want to be able to break down my NPS by region from the respondent.

Pat:
Yup, good example.

Liz:
And you didn't, collect that information in the first place. It's going to be a really difficult task to retroactively try to fold it in; being able to identify that up top is important.

Pat:
Right. Right.

Charlie:
Yeah, I think that's a huge point. The survey build process, we've talked about it already, but that informs your reporting process and vice versa. What you want to report on, you should certainly ask about and what you're going to ask about you should be able to report on. So those two are hand-in-hand. And I think, yes, one comes before the other in the project. But the thought process of those should be pretty much in unison.

Pat:
Yeah, absolutely. Because it would seem the work around, if you overlook that is, you know, just it just slows you down.

Liz:
It adds another task that you didn't need to do.

Pat:
Right. Right. So in thinking through this, kind of what's going through my head is all these check points of experiences that you've had where people haven't thought about these things. Right. [Laughing] If you've seen their mistakes and, and you've benefited from that and you can help people avoid those in the future. Let me switch to the positive side. Give me an example of a company, you know, you don't have to share their name or anything, but somebody has done it well, and you think and they thought through, you know, some of these things and, and what that was like and how it benefited them.

Liz:
Sure. I'm wrapping up a twelve week implementation that was actually really, truly 12 weeks with a large financial services firm. And on our kickoff call, I gave them a bunch of homework, including, you know, let me know who is my point of contact for this part of the technical integration and who is building the survey and who is telling me how the reporting should be designed and who is managing your users inside of your software. And they already knew who all those people were. Their availability started immediately. And as a result, we probably started the process a good two weeks ahead of time, ahead of where we would typically be. That enabled us when we hit a couple of unavoidable snags. There are actually some medical absences on both my side and their side, which in most projects would completely derail everything. But because we had worked ahead and because everyone's roles within the team were so well-defined and they knew who their backups were, we actually were able to get through what would have been a disaster for most implementations really smoothly and launch not only their survey on time, but also all of their reporting to their internal folks.

Pat:
Good success story. [laughing] That's got to feel good because again, I think each one of these, we want to do everything we can. And I know you guys do do everything you can to make it smooth, to make it easy, to get people up and going, so when it works like clockwork and even with snags.

Liz:
Right.

Pat:
It's a good feeling.

Liz:
And there are be snags and everything.

Pat:
Yeah, of course. Charlie, you have one that comes to mind?

Charlie:
Yeah. We actually just wrapped up an implementation with a medical device distribution company and they have worked with us before us. They piloted Qualtrics with us first time around. I worked with them and it went swimmingly. But we run into a few those things they just did one survey, no reporting on the backend, no dashboards. And we had the, you know, kind of questions you want to ask. And they came mostly prepared. But so on those things you've talked about, they hadn't really thought through. We got the survey launched, went great. They came back for the dashboard and reporting section of the project. Then they already had all those things thought through. They made a new survey, had thought through all the questions they want to ask. Who should be reporting to, who should be seeing that information? So, like Liz said, she got done in 12 weeks, which is rare. Ours was an eight week project and we finished on week eight, which again like Liz said, almost never happens. [laughing] So that was that was awesome to see. It was great to see them taking lessons from the pilot into their second augmentation. Hopefully, you know, as they grow their program on their own, they'll continue to think those lessons learned.

Pat:
Yeah. Yeah. Because beyond the technology, because when I hear a story like that and just having been in this industry for a while, knowing that they've consciously thought through how they're gonna use the information, who's responsible, you have to think they probably trained people on how to use it and they're just going to get more out of their program. And again, the technology is a tool, but how you use the information is really what this is about.

Pat:
Okay. So we've gotten to the part of the show, this is kind of the hallmark of the CX Leader Podcast, where we ask our, our guest to provide what we call take home value. So as you think through all of this, if you were to narrow down to one tip for each of you that you think makes the biggest difference, tell us what would be.

Charlie:
Yeah. So I think for me, my tip would be kind of goes beyond the technology. I think coming into a project as an organization that's going to launch, there CX program with these things ready just makes things so much easier for everybody. It builds rapport so quickly. It gives everybody a great deal of confidence when you come in. I mean, I think that just sets you up for success. You know, when you drag along with trying to figure out survey questions, it just already puts a dark cloud over for any project – and not that you can't come back from that, but if you have that initial surge where everyone feels really good about it, I think it just does a world of good for the program overall.

Pat:
That's a great tip. That's a great tip. Liz?

Liz:
I would say my big thing is knowing what your resources are and also developing new resources because your team… the software you're using is just a tool in the tool belt. Everyone has favorite ways. I definitely do – I have very strong opinions on what I would like to use everyday.

Pat:
Imagine that. [laughing]

Liz:
But, but your team is… is really the most important tool that you have in your program. And so identifying what's available to you in-house, what you might have to look outside of your organization to supplement and also looking for opportunities to develop members of your team. You know, if you're just starting with a new piece of software and you have a new hire and, maybe that's an opportunity to really get them in to be your dashboard expert or your survey building expert. And that's something I've seen folks do successfully over and over again. And it contributes to the longevity of their program.

Pat:
It's great advice. And really, I hope our listeners take heed because these are the things that can really slow things down when you have the energy to move forward and get your your whole organization engaged.

Pat:
So Liz Wallshield and Charlie Rumsey, are technology consultants here at Walker. Liz, Charlie, thanks for being on the CX Leader Podcast.

Liz:
Thank You.

Charlie:
Absolutely, had a great time.

Pat:
And if you want to talk about anything you've heard on this episode or how Walker can help with your business customer experience, you can contact Steve at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or you can contact me at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com. Don't hesitate to reach out. I know both Steve and I would love to hear from you. And don't forget to subscribe to the CX Leader Podcast. You can go to walkerinfo.com/podcast and you'll find links to iTunes, Spotify, IHeartRadio, Google Play, and on YouTube as well. Simply go to walkerinfo.tv to listen. And thank you for listening to the CX Leader Podcast, which is a production of Walker. We're an experienced management firm that helps our clients gain a competitive advantage by delivering an exceptional experience for their customers and for the 2019 Qualtrics CX Partner of the year. Find out more at walkerinfo.com. Thank you for listening and we'll see you next time.

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