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Experience Management 101, Part 1

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Experience Management, or “XM”, is a newer term in the area of customer experience and CX professionals will certainly be hearing more about how XM will impact their programs. Steve welcomes Aimee Lucas from the Qualtrics XM Institute to provide an overview of experience management and how it impacts CX professionals’ efforts within their companies.

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Steve:
You've heard the term "XM" or "experience management" several times on this podcast. But what does it really mean?

Aimee:
CX is what happens when you apply the discipline of experience management to customer interactions. And for lots of organizations looking at things through an experience lens, CX is actually the place where it starts.

Steve:
It's experience management 101 on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is a production of Walker, an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host 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? XM or experience management is something we've discussed on the podcast. We've talked about X-data and O-data and how experiences shape how customers view your company. But what is experience management? Well, I can tell you that it's more than a catchphrase and we're going to take a couple of episodes to delve deeper into what XM is and how it can help companies close the experience gap. And to help us with that journey I can't think of anybody better than Aimee Lucas, a certified customer experience professional and also a senior principal analyst from the Qualtrics XM Institute, to help us explore experience management. Aimee, thank you very much for joining us on the podcast this week.

Aimee:
It's terrific to be here, Steve. Thank you.

Steve:
Well, it's a real pleasure and obviously, I've known you and your organization for a long time, big fans of what you did prior to XM Institute, which a lot of our listeners may know as the Temkin Group. Why don't you just for the benefit of our listeners maybe just give us a brief background on you personally and how you got to be a CX professional.

Aimee:
Absolutely. Like many of us today I took a winding path through the fields of sales, marketing, project management, learning and development, but found myself taking over a customer survey at my prior employer. And from that first foray built a customer experience program inside the organization to help us really understand where our own experience gaps were. Did some work focused not just on the voice of customer, but how did we build the right sort of culture and engage our employees. And then in 2012, joined Temkin Group and from there have really appreciated the opportunity to research and advise and work with a variety of companies and different industries – really looking at how… how do we engage the hearts and minds of our employees so that we can deliver on brand promises to customers and, and ultimately help the business be successful. So it's… it's been a lot of fun combining my… my various roles across the years into something where I get the chance to practice them all together.

Steve:
Yeah, it's a common story in our podcasts that we find out that many people didn't really start out to become a CX professional. It just sort of happened along the way. And as I like to say, what a great time to be a CX pro, right?

Aimee:
One hundred percent.

Steve:
Well, talk to us a little more about experience management. Again, this is something that we're kind of rolling out now to our listeners. We've been referencing it with our partnership with Qualtrics, and I've actually had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time studying your papers on XM, but wanted to just for the purposes of setting the table, just give us a little overview of XM and and how it differs from CX and what the genesis of all this was and how the XM Institute played in that.

Aimee:
Absolutely. And I think I'd like to first start with that connection building of XM and CX because we often get asked, you know, how does this experience management thing relate to customer experience? And what I encourage our listeners today to think of it in terms of a customer experience as a use case of experience management. Right? CX is what happens when you apply the discipline as we talk about it, of experience management to customer interactions. And for lots of organizations looking at things through an experience lens, CX is actually the place where it starts and sometimes it starts in a very sort of targeted way. We look at the interactions we have with customers through our contact center and we want to understand how those are going and get better. But we also see what we call the diffusion of experience management, where it grows from maybe very focused ways to extended opportunities. We go from just the contact center to many different customer interactions across their journey with our company. We start to look at the connections between customer experience and employee experience, while at the same time recognizing there's opportunities to look at the employee experience in and of itself and gradually diffuse that focus across all of those connections and adjacent experiences where brand, product, partner experience, et cetera, all come together to think about how do we create experiences, how do we build capabilities inside our organizations that allow the company, allow the teams, allow the projects that we invest in to really deliver on what people, the humans, you know, that are part of those experiences, what they really care about. So, you know, if we go from that sort of big picture idea to the definition, we like to define experience management as the discipline of using both the experience data or X-data, as we call it, an operational data or O-data, as we call it, to measure and improve the core experiences of the business. And there's a couple of words in there that I think are important for listeners, to… to really pay attention to. So to formally define experience management, we define experience management as the discipline of using both experience data, X-data, operational data, O-data, to measure and improve the core experiences of business. And that combination of… of measure and improve are two key words in that definition, where the real value from the investment of time and effort is not just to get all of that data together and into the organization, but how do we use it? How do we learn from it? How do we share those insights so that we can adapt to the changes that are affecting our business, adapt to the changes and customers needs and expectations. And we'll be successful at measuring and improving if we embrace another critical word in that definition, which is discipline. Right? XM isn't about making an isolated good decision. Those of us who've been doing CX for a while know that it can't just be a random set of things that an organization does, but it really is the embodiment of building a set of capabilities inside our organization that are embedded into how we operate, that allow us to measure and improve consistently, persistently across the business, top to bottom and side to side.

Steve:
You mentioned a lot of things there and I've made copious notes as you were talking. But would it be fair to say that XM is really kind of a framework or an umbrella to consider all this experience information in kind of a holistic way?

Aimee:
Absolutely. And in fact, we really see that if organizations want to be successful in enabling XM inside their organization, there are three elements they should focus on. And we, of course, coined it the "XM operating framework," but there are three three pieces that help companies embrace this discipline well. One, competencies, the second, technologies, and the third is culture. And when those three pieces come together, we have the opportunity to take a balanced, a holistic approach to the investments and the efforts that we're undertaking.

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.

Steve:
I really like the concept of the discipline because I think in some ways that's where a lot of CX and now I think XM initiatives sort of tend to go off the track. Would that be consistent with your experience?

Aimee:
Yeah, I think that is fair. I think in part, you know, discipline is an important word to embrace because, you know, when we think about what it really means to be a discipline, sort of liken it to a habit. You know, a habit, a discipline is something that we have to do consistently, right? We can't turn it off and turn it on when it's convenient for us to decide today's the day we're going to focus on our customer. It has to be something that we're committed to, right? That the organization just doesn't have ambition to deliver a great customer experience, but it's willing to sort of make those commitments to changing those behaviors it seeks from leaders to frontline employees. And then it has to be cultivated, right? We've got to learn and apply some some very specific competencies, capabilities, skills inside our organization to allow us to alter how we operate today so that we're collecting the right feedback and data from the inside of our organization so that we can understand what's happening: what experiences are working, what experiences aren't. Disseminate those… insights across the organization and then enable the organization to take action on that. And that's why when we think about our operating framework of competencies, technology, and culture, a lot of people first sort of gravitate to the technology piece, right? Like let's get a system and that's going to make us be great at experience management. But equally important is, is thinking about the competencies that we're building. And we've identified six of them: lead, realize, and activate, enlighten, respond, and disrupt. The culture is important. Do we have the right mindsets and beliefs inside the organization that allow those behaviors that are so critical for part of the discipline to take hold? And then the technology allows us to scale, right? The technology helps us bring that data in. It allows us to drive some consistency in the practices and scale that distribution and action across the teams and the people who need to make decisions about what we learn about the experiences that we deliver to customers.

Steve:
So do you really see the discipline as kind of the key part of the culture?

Aimee:
I think culture supports the discipline taking hold. When we talk about culture, culture recognizes that we've got to foster an environment where we've got these XM-centric mindsets in our leaders and in our employees. Culture's the thing that's going to ultimately allow XM efforts, whether they're targeted just at CX or whether they've been diffused across a number of experiences. But it's what's going to allow it to gain momentum and ensure that those practices take hold. The discipline takes hold consistently across the organization rather than just happening in isolated pockets.

Steve:
And you know, the concept of making it a habit of being consistent with that, you know, this is something that I've said for a long time, is that you're never going to be totally customer focused. Right. Or more experience. You're never going to master it because there's a part of the equation you don't control, you know, technology, innovation, new entrants, new markets, new new products. So it's sort of like being a good parent or a good spouse, it's, you know, you're never really done, are ya?.

Aimee:
Well, exactly right. For a couple of reasons, right? We, we… the environment we're trying to master this discipline in so dynamic the internal environment inside our businesses and the external environment. Right? So you you highlight a lot of those external factors that can can that make this discipline be one that is ever changing, but then also internally. Right. What's so important, I believe, to a successful CX strategy is that the the strategy is defined in line and to support the organization's business and brand objectives. Right? CX isn't happening over in some isolated vacuum off to the side. Ideally, it's… it's there to support what the business wants to do and how the brand wants to be perceived in the market. And sometimes business objectives mean that for a time being, we might have to sort of get into a maintain mode with CX as opposed to maybe a game mode with CX, because there's other priorities that we've got to focus on at the moment while being mindful that the experience still stays at the right level, that we're not hurting our progress in those other organizational priorities at the time. So it's… I mean, that that's why I know this is never done right. We talk about the journey of becoming an organization that delivers great customer experience as a marathon. But, you know, it's not even an ultra marathon, 100 mile race. It just it keeps going because the market or our companies, our employees and our customers are changing and our CX strategy has to adapt to that as it goes.

Steve:
Yeah, I love that analogy. I kind of talked about like, you know, it's… it's not really more a marathon. It's like one game in a baseball season. And if, you know, we're in the World Series at this stage, but there's one hundred and sixty two regular season games. And, you know, so each quarter or each week or each year is really just one game if you really are taking the long range view. And I think being customer focused and having a good experience management system is a long term play. And I really like what you said about, you know, it has to be traded off against the other business objectives. You know, sometimes we… we decide we're gonna exit a line of business or you know, or we just have decided that this isn't going to work. Well, then you've made a business decision that ultimately is going to impact the customer negatively. But having that system, having that experience management system in place allows you to measure and then also deal with the consequences of making those business decisions.

Aimee:
And that's why I think embracing the language of experience management as opposed to, you know, how many of us got into this customer experience is it opens us up to thinking about all of the places we can apply this discipline. And it opens us up to engaging teams that need to be a part of this: I.T., finance, legal, H.R., in ways that sometimes maybe they didn't connect with or saying, hey, I'm on the CX team and I need you to get… get involved. Well none of my people ever deal with customers, so CX isn't our job. But when we think about, you know, experience management, we really can then think more broadly about exit or shut down experiences, not just new product experiences or new service experiences. It really allows us to just, I think, be more mindful of who are we trying to deliver and experience. What makes that experience successful for them? How do we measure how well we're doing that today and where do we need to improve or adapt in a way that supports the person on the other side of that experience? At the same time, supporting the business objectives, the value that we're trying to deliver to the organization.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Aimee Lucas. She is the senior principal analyst from the Qualtrics XM Institute. Previously known as the Temkin Group. And we are having a podcast on XM or experience management 101. Experience management is a term you're gonna continue to hear more and more about as we go forward. And we're talking to Aimee today about this holistic approach that the Qualtrics XM Institute has just just rolled out. You know, I want to go back to where you were talking about the diffusion, and we've talked about it being a framework, kind of a mindset for the whole organization. But, so if you're just starting out in XM, would this framework be a logical place for one to begin.

Aimee:
Absolutely. So our operating framework, I think applies whether you are… are just trying to think about, you know, how does XM apply to our business or whether you've been doing this for a while and need a way to sort of reassess, reset, refocus, revitalize your CX or any experience management program. When we think about those who are… are just coming into this, the opportunity to think about technology, culture, and competencies together and can help the organization really make… maybe some of the choices, those of us who've been figuring it out as we go a little smarter earlier in the journey that you're taking, because the operating framework can really be a blueprint to master XM and to mature XM. So when we think about, you know, the technology piece, for example, at the start, really understanding not just the the… the whole slate A-to-Z of the capabilities out there, but how certain technology features and capabilities can help maybe a small or a limited capacity CX team do some things that the larger teams are able to do because now the technology gives them the power, say, to do maybe more advanced analytics or distribute insights in it… in a more streamlined, easier engaging way than maybe doing it manually or having to rely on another headcount to do it. Thinking about culture early on helps the companies say, well, what's our culture today and what are some of the adjustments or shifts that we may need to make to ensure that that our organization is more change minded in using customer feedback in order to adapt how we do business is more human centric and is is fostering empathy and how we design and delivery experiences. And I think the competencies most of all, and I know we're going to talk about those more in a… in a future episode, the competencies really give a new CX professional or a new CX team almost a checklist of sort of what are the key actions, what are the critical capabilities we need to be establishing now to allow ourselves to have a solid foundation upon which to grow. How are we thinking about how this program roadmap and governance is constructed? How are we thinking about the ways we're going to connect metrics that we choose to business impact? So I think it is applicable for someone new because it can guide their own learning curriculum as it is for for a group that's been doing this for a while that wants to sort of assess where are we today and what are the next things we need to align around to continue to make progress and stay in front of the changing needs and expectations of our company and our customers.

Steve:
I'm really glad you mentioned that we're going to continue this in Part 2 and really dive deep into these six competencies and actually the 20 skills that are behind that. But as we wrap up this first part, what should I do if I already have a framework in place or I already have a model in place, or I'm already maybe doing pieces and parts of an experience management model, how could the framework help me there?

Aimee:
You know what? I love it. I think, you know, if you've got a framework or a model that works for you and that has become part of the lexicon, the vocabulary inside an organization, but we don't want to disrupt that. But use our model, use the operating framework as a way to sort of say what might be missing, what might be a different angle, what might be a piece of my model that… that isn't hasn't quite taken hold the way I wanted to and is there something I can pull from the XM Operating Framework that will help that piece or fill a gap in the model that I'm using? You know, I… I, you know, I hate… I don't like to… I like driving change in a way that builds on what's already working inside a company. So if there's a model that's that's already helping you make progress, use ours as a complement to that. To say, is there anything missing? Is there anything that we've left out that we should be finding a way to insert into our work?

Steve:
And Aimee, if any of our listeners would like to get a hold of the framework, can you point us in the right direction?

Aimee:
Absolutely. If you go to qualtrics.com/XM-Institute, you will come to our research landing page. And the report is called Operationalising X.M. It's a free download and it will go through the three elements of the operating framework and then take you into a deep dive of the competencies, the diffusion path that we've talked about and even introduce the five stages of XM maturity that companies go through as they master those competencies through their CX… CX XM effort. So that's a great place to get started.

Steve:
Yeah, I mentioned before we went live on the show that I have a very dog eared and highlighted copy of this myself. I find it very, very helpful. And of course, full disclosure, we're partners with Qualtrics, but we really have adopted the XM as a great framework to help clients and guide those clients on their on their XM journey. Ok, Aimee, as we wrap up part one of XM 101, give us your best tip… get… what is the take home value for the CX pro from our first half of XM 101.

Aimee:
So this is a bonus, it's a two for one step. I think the first key takeaway I'd suggest for CX pros is when you think about your XM efforts, focus on the entire XM operating framework. While at times you may be directed more at the technology or the culture, the competency piece overall, you want to combine those three elements in your strategy and in your program roadmap. And then I think the second one is make sure to enjoy the journey. Driving XM change, driving CX transformation isn't always easy and it doesn't always follow the linear path that you wish it would, but as CX professionals, I think we want to celebrate its successes as they come. Stay positive and don't let those those downs you down. Use the resources around you to get past those obstacles and keep focused on the big goal and celebrate the wins along the way.

Steve:
I really like that. As a… as an eternal optimist, but also a pragmatist, I really think that that's important. This is a long haul and only the people that stay positive and stay after it are eventually going to be the most successful. So…

Aimee:
Only way to do it.

Steve:
Thank you. Aimee Lucas has been the guest on the podcast this week. She's the senior principal analyst from Qualtrics XM Institute, previously known as the Temkin Group, and she'll be back for our next episode to help us unpack some of the practical uses of XM. Aimee, thanks for joining us on The CX Leader Podcast and I look forward to the next part of our series.

Aimee:
You're very welcome. And I do, too.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything you heard on the episode or about how Walker can help your business customer experience, feel free to email me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or give us a call here in the US at +1-317-843-8890. And check out our new website. Go to cxleaderpodcast.com to subscribe. You'll find links to iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, and YouTube. You can also find all of our previous episodes, podcast series, and contact information so you can let us know how we're doing. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We're an experience management firm that can help companies accelerate their CX success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thank you for listening and we'll see you next time.

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