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Here to Help

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Companies around the world are having to adjust their operations in response to COVID-19, and customer experience leaders are finding that you cannot continue in a “business as usual” mentality. CX programs need to adapt along with the overall business. While their toolbox might be fairly well-stocked, these unprecedented times are leaving some CX pro’s and executives frustrated on next steps, wondering how to continue to collect insights and feedback while not appearing insensitive to the current global situation.

Host Steve Walker welcomes guest Brian Stucki, an executive vice president and general manager of Customer Experience Business at Qualtrics, a leading experience management platform, to discuss how companies need to step back from focusing on metrics and look to the “human side” during a crisis.

Additional Resources

Adjusting your CX program to deal with COVID-19 – Bruce Temkin, Qualtrics XM Institute

COVID-19 Resources and Tools from Qualtrics

Transcript

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Steve:
Many CX professionals are trying to decide how to adjust their programs in response to COVID-19 and what tools are available to help.

Brian:
Given what's happening in the marketplace, the programs that you're running today may not be aimed at the right segments of customers, may not be aimed at the right set of problems, or just may not be generally positioned to give you the right level of insight that you need to take the action that you should be taking.

Steve:
Refocusing your CX efforts in response to the pandemic, 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 the topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. Companies around the world are having to adjust their operations in response to COVID-19. And customer experience leaders are finding that you cannot continue in a business as usual mentality. CX programs need to adapt along with the overall business. And while their tool box may be fairly well stocked, these unprecedented times are leaving some CX pros and executives frustrated on next steps, wondering how to continue to collect insights and feedback while not appearing insensitive to the current global situation. I'm very happy to have, as my guest on this week's podcast, Brian Stuki, who leads the CX business at Qualtrics, a leading experience management platform, and in the spirit of full disclosure, a very strategic partner of our firm, Walker. Qualtrics has been a great partner to us, and I'm just delighted that we were able to get Brian to come on and be a guest on the podcast. Brian, welcome to The CX Leader Podcast.

Brian:
Thank you, Steve. Very excited to be here. Appreciate the invitation.

Steve:
Well, I'm just tickled that you would take the time to be with us, especially under the circumstances and everything that's going on. But I just think this is a tremendous opportunity for CX pros to help lead their organizations through crisis and can't be more proud to have you as a guest. You know, I know a little bit about your background and what you do at Qualtrics, what you did before Qualtrics – just for the benefit of the audience, why don't you just give us a little context. Tell us a little bit about your career, how do you got into CX and kind of what your role is at Qualtrics today?

Brian:
Yeah. So thanks, Steve. So before joining Qualtrics, I worked at Bain and Company for a number of years and it was there where I got exposure to customer experience work with Bain we call the Net Promoter System. But it was also there where I got significant experience in the enterprise software industry. And over the course of my career at Bain, I realized that I really enjoyed my work in the enterprise software arena. And I… and I also really enjoyed the CX work that I did there. And Qualtrics came along and just so happened that they sort of sit at the intersection of both of these… both of those things. And so it just made a lot of sense for those reasons to join Qualtrics. I did that about five years ago. When I initially joined the company, I joined as the global head of customer success. That was a small team at that time that since grown to over a couple hundred consultants scattered across the world that work with our customers to drive value realization of our technology platform. And then more recently, at the start of this year, I was asked to move into to the role that I am in today, which is the general manager for our customer XM or our CX product. And so in that role, I'm responsible for product development, product marketing services related to the CX product line, as well as what we call the XM Institute, which is essentially our thought leadership arm for our business.

Steve:
What are some of the things that for those of our listeners who are managing their CX program, what are the key elements from your perspective about what they ought to be doing today as we're now six, seven weeks into the pandemic?

Brian:
Yeah, great question, Steve. And there's certainly a lot of ground we could cover there. I'll probably just start with three specific ideas or concepts that I think are really important right now. I would point your listeners to publications that the XM Institute have put out that are available for everyone that goes into much more depth in terms of the Qualtrics line of thinking on this particular topic. Like I say, I'll start by giving you three. The first is shifting tactics away from tracking or measuring the existing business and focusing much more on gathering actionable insights about the current and evolving situation. So what that means is CX professionals should be very willing to adjust their programs for the current situation in the current times. And we're helping a lot of organizations do that, a lot of our own, our own customers. But given what's happening in the marketplace, the programs that you're running today may not be aimed at the right segments of customers, may not be aimed at the right sets of problems, or just may not be generally positioned to give you the right level of insight that you need to take the action that you should be taking in these unprecedented times. That would be sort of the first thing I would say is, is be willing to to move away from, at least for a time, from some of the more classic metrics that we might be tracking in our CX programs and start to just get much more focused on the areas of the business that we know we need to be listening to as it relates to real time customer behavior changes, as a result of the pandemic. The second point that I would make is forget about the metrics and double down on action and figure out what it takes in your business to shorten the action cycles. Right? And that can come down to just making sure you've got the right organizational focus, the right capacity of team to take action. You've got the right processes established, et cetera. That's really where I think people should be spending their time as opposed to trying to understand how their NPS is trending or their OSAT or, you know, name your next CX metric. I just… It's just right now, it's just not that relevant, frankly. And then the third is, you know, fully leverage the data and insights that you already have. And more specifically, don't forget about your front line. Right? You've got many organizations have large front line teams across sales and service reps, customer success. Those teams have rich and real time perspectives on what is happening on the front line to your customers. And so it becomes largely about how do you tap into that. Right? As one simple example. Another example would be, you know, if you look at your call centers, for example, you've got chat transcripts, call transcripts. How are you leveraging that data and surfacing the right insight off of that without having to necessarily go out and ask customers? So, you know, that that would be my final point is just be really thoughtful about everything you already have available. And are you using that information in the best way possible?

Steve:
That's great perspective. Let me just recap a little bit. Actually, just a couple of weeks ago, we did a podcast on the power of using your customer facing employees as a listening post for customers. And we've seen a lot of action in that respect of instead of talking to your customers, you go to the folks that are talking to the customers. I think the idea of using your unstructured feedback from contact centers is an excellent idea. Excellent source. And then your big point about, you know, forget about the metrics right now, really focus on the relationship and in sharing value. Sometimes it takes a crisis to highlight this, but I would say in general, CX pros probably could spend more time focusing on taking action and less time on report and out scores. So, hey, I know you guys are doing a lot of specific stuff around the pandemic and with you in charge of the overall responsibility for the product development. Tell us about some of the exciting things that Qualtrics been doing to react to the situation.

Brian:
Yeah, I mean, I think, Steve, our overall approach in reaction to the pandemic has largely been framed around just how do we help. Right? How do how do we help our customers? How do we help our market? How do we help CX professionals? I think that's been our minds, that since this kind of really got going and, you know, mid Q1. And I think more specific to that, there's there's probably three things that I would highlight that we've done to try and help people that are dealing with the effects of the pandemic. The first is just publishing a lot of guidance and best practices, right? Mostly through our XM Institute. There's a number of resources that are available free to anybody. The second is we have embarked on a fairly significant effort to build what we call free automated solutions for both the public and private sector to leverage in this difficult time. And, you know, we've built to date thirteen of these solutions. Anyone can go review them on our Here to Help website. But these are solutions designed to help organizations do things like understand how your own people are doing. Right? A lot of organizations got thrust into this almost overnight like you were coming into the office and that was sort of your mode of operating and then now your at home at your kitchen table, trying to do your job. And so helping organizations understand how are employees going through that? And are we keeping them engaged? Are we giving them everything they need to be successful in there roles so that as that translates to customers, right, we're not letting that significant change negatively impact our customers. And that's just one example. We've put a number of government solutions on there. We see a lot of need in state and local institutes, for example, trying to understand the voice of the citizen in their perspective and what the government needs to do to help the people. And so there's there's thirteen of those solutions. Others are aimed at helping organizations get close to their front line and surface some very simple, easy ways, feedback from their customer facing organization. So a lot of work has been poured into that from a product development perspective. And we're really frankly, Steve, we're really proud of the work that we've done and that we've been able to open it up to the world. Right? And we've seen thousands of a brands engage with these solutions. And, you know, there's over 30,000 projects being run across these thirteen different solutions. And so, you know, we're excited about that. We feel like that's making a difference, helping organizations adjust and adapt to the situation they find themselves in. The third thing that we're doing is it ties back into, you know, my my former job, my former role in customer success, where we are in infusing the guidance of best practices that I talked about, right, that being published by our XM Institute, we're infusing that into our customer success organization. And we're having them reach out and work hand in hand with our customer base to help them make the adjustments to the program that they need to make. The other thing that we did to complement that was we carved off some dedicated service capacity so that in the event that there was some technical adjustment that needs to be made to customers program, that we were positioned to help them do that quickly. And so those are those are the three big things that we've done. You know, one of the things that we've realized is really confirming to us that, it's important that we think holistically about experience. It's not just about customer, but it's about all the things that can impact customer. We can talk a lot about employees, but my goodness, over the course of this pandemic, there were a lot of concerns being raised by organizations around the supply chain. If they can't get what they need to build their product or deliver their service to their customers, and that's going to become a customer problem for them. And so how do we help organizations get in a position where they're able to think about that in a more holistic way?

Steve:
Well, my guest on the podcast this week is Brian Stucki. He leads the CX business at Qualtrics. We've had a fascinating discussion about their response to the COVID-19 pandemic that we've all been dealing with and what you can do as a CX leader in your organization to help lead your company forward. You know, in addition to being a experienced management professional myself, I also run my own business. And this has been unprecedented in terms of the way we respond. You know, we all have catastrophe plans and things like that, but until you're actually faced with it, you never really get to test, you know, everybody working from home overnight. But we did use the Qualtrics Employee Pulse survey right off the bat when people were working from home. And we probably kicked out literally twenty no-brainer, easy things that we could do to help our employees adjust – some of them personal, some of them business. Then we repeated about a month later, we got even more suggestions. And now as we're getting ready to go back to work and open up the office, we're gonna go do a third wave of that. So that's just a little kind of case study just from a medium sized company in the Midwest. What other things are you seeing from some of your clients? I know you can't disclose them, but what's been the response to some of these solutions? So what kinds of information are you seeing coming back?

Brian:
Yeah, I mean, we've been frankly surprised at the level of adoption of these solutions. I mean, I mentioned earlier just the sheer number of projects that are being run across these thirteen solutions. You know, one of the things that we heard from kind of more of a theme perspective is senior leaders in organizations consistently saying: "we don't feel like we've got a good grasp on what's going on with our customers and the general health of our business." You know, we went through that ourselves at Qualtrics. You know, when this all kicked off, it was. Wow. Like, this is this is going to have real impact on people and on organizations, and so how do we help folks get their arms around that? And that was really when we birthed the idea of like, oh, we got to make it really easy for people to get connected to their front line. Like, there initially when all this sort of kicked off, you know, it's kind of a little bit chaotic. And we almost immediately saw response rates drop across the board. Right from a from a CX program perspective as sort of people were out, you know, getting getting themselves situated in remote work environments, et cetera. And really, a lot of the voice that that organizations were needing immediately needed to come from the frontline, because that was really the only, you know, one of the only ways where you were going to get meaningful feedback quickly. We saw that need very quickly. We were able to pivot and adjust and help organizations start to stand up some very simple frontline feedback or frontline connect solutions.

Steve:
You know, here we're talking about going back to business, but in some cases, some businesses have been busier than ever over the past six weeks or seven weeks. And again, I think you mentioned that we're talking that in some ways for the CX leaders, this is a really interesting time, because in some ways, the ways that companies are going to interact with their customers and how their employees are going to have to interact with customers are going to be forever changed. So, you know, it's only been seven or eight weeks that we've been operating this way. But how do you think companies are doing?

Brian:
Look, I mean, candidly, it's a mixed bag, right? I've been on conversations or in conversation as a, you know, very senior leaders of enormous organizations. You know, I was talking to the CMO recently of a very large and well-respected financial services organization and, you know, the spike in digital traffic that they've seen has been astounding. I mean, it was staggering when they gave us the figures. And they were pulling us in to move as absolutely quickly as possible to install DX programs across all the digital channels and assets. They saw the need and they're moving very quickly based on that need. We're seeing other organizations that are, they're coming to us and they're reluctant to tweak or change their program. And in fairness, where we typically see that is in industries that aren't hit as hard as others.

Steve:
Right.

Brian:
But we do see a lot of discussion and debate around, you know, should we change our program? Should we hit pause on, you know, are NPS metric? What does this mean for compensation that's tied to CX scores, etc.? You see some organizations that appear to be, you know, not not moving or happiness as quickly as we would like to see. And then you've sort of got some outliers, right, that are really innovating from our perspective and, you know, GoDaddy would be one that I can talk about. And we've been working very closely with them since all this kicked off. You know, they made rapid adjustments to their program where they were typically only only reaching out to a very small subset of their customer base. We opened to that up immediately and went in to a much more short and open end format for them to start getting feedback from their customers. We were able to launch that very quickly when they sort of identified us as a big problem for their customer bases cancelation requests we're starting to come in, in the early, early days of the pandemic. And we were able to surface some very meaningful insights for them that informed actions that they took. One of the things that they went and did was they went and got some partners together and set up what's called OpenWeStand.org, which is basically a resource for small and medium businesses to weather the crisis. And so you see some organizations that are really leaning in and figuring out, hey, like how do we, you know, be human here and and just focus on helping. And I think what organizations will see is that that will pay off for them in a very meaningful way from a brand perspective for many, many years to come.

Steve:
It's interesting, I'm glad you were able to reference GoDaddy, and that is a great story, but they were probably pretty digitally enabled before this crisis, correct?

Brian:
Yeah. Yeah.

Steve:
Are you seeing differences between kind of the maturity of the companies as relates to how prepared they were to be virtual?

Brian:
Yeah, I mean, and there's some… there's some correlation, right, between, you know, just how old an organization is and their go to market models. Right? And so a lot of the more digital tech focused organizations are going to be not always right, of course. But they can they continue to be, you know, organizations that haven't been around for four decades. And so they've grown up in a different way. And they are more agile, more nimble, just just, you know, from a culture perspective. And so we do see them, yes, much more open, much more willing to take fast action, do things differently, you know, get away from metric this and metric that – it doesn't matter. Let's really focus on how we dial in on the problem areas and figure out what we're doing about it. But certainly we see that on the other side as well. Right? Organizations, do you know, maybe this was just a part of their business, they've been around forever. Right, I referenced the conversation I had with the CMO. And you know that that's a massive organization. And we were talking about getting new digital programs stood up in days for them. And so I again, I think that it's all over the board and that comes down to a matter of priority for organizations. And, you know, sort of what's important to them? What are they what are they willing to take action on?

Steve:
When you look at the future Qualtrics in and looking in your crystal ball, where do you see this thing going? And how do you think it's going to impact, particularly for those of us that are XM and CX and EX professionals?

Brian:
Well, look, I mean, first, we're gonna stay hyper focused on just are Here to Help initiative, do everything we can to help businesses as they look to reopen. So that's that's going to remain our focus for the for the foreseeable future for sure, as a number one priority. I think two and certainly related to that is we're making some big… We got a big focus and we're making some big investments in our digital customer care solutions and capabilities. Those are hyper relevant given what's going on with the pandemic. And so we're doubling down in those areas with our platform. But look, I think that, you know, sort of back to the the experience management or the XM point that you made, you know, we're going to continue to focus on giving professionals all the tools they need to manage experience, because our belief is that that in integral ways that that is all tied together and that really the future of CX is experience and all things that impact the customer.

Steve:
Brian, we've come to that point in the show that we always like to put our guests on the hot seat and ask them for their take home value. This is for CX pros that they can take and put right into practice, see their tomorrow or next week or, you know, the next time that they're trying to look at what they ought to be doing for their program. So given the topic today, Brian Stucki, what is your take home value for the CX pros that listen to our podcast?

Brian:
Yeah. I mean, look I'll just kind of reiterate what I said earlier, Steve. One, be willing to change your programs, be agile – focus on what matters right now. Two, be willing to let go of your metrics for a time and double down on action. Right? That's that's what's going to matter most. And then three is leverage all the data and insights you already have. Don't forget about your front line and all the rich insight that they can give you. So, you know, I think those are the three things that I would reiterate, Steve, and and then maybe just finalize as a capstone comment, you know, just don't lose sight of the fact that customer experience extends well beyond sort of how we thought about that classically. And in today's environment, I think making sure that we're well dialed in to the employee front and what's happening there, I think is incredibly important to any organization.

Steve:
Brian, can't thank you enough for being a guest on the podcast this week. Thanks for thanks for sharing your time and your expertise.

Brian:
Thank you, Steve. Thanks for having me.

Steve:
Hey, and if by any chance people want to learn a little bit more, you want to pitch the website or talk about the XM Institute where they can find some of the content that you referenced?

Brian:
Sure. Yeah, you can… you can go to qualtrics.com/Here-to-help. That's where you'll find the free solutions that I've mentioned. And then go to XMInstitute.com and that's where you can find all of the free publications and market research studies that we make available to free for everyone.

Steve:
Great, thanks. I'm a heavy user of that XM Institute. Brian Stucki leads the CX business at Qualtrics, a leading experience management platform and a strategic partner of Walker. Brian, thanks again for being on The CX Leader Podcast and keep up the great work that you guys are doing there. Throughout the crisis.

Brian:
Well, thank you, Steve. We really appreciate all that you and Walker do for us. Appreciate you having me.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything you heard on the podcast or about how Walker can help your business' customer experience. Please feel free to e-mail me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com. Remember to visit our website, cxleaderpodcast.com to subscribe to the show and find all our previous episodes, podcast series, and the contact information so you can let us know how we're doing. The CX Leader Podcast is a production Walker, we're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for listening to the podcast and we'll see you again next time.

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