Experience data: the currency of the future
From products and services to customers and employees, experience data is transforming how brands and businesses engage. But what is experience data? And how has it become the most transformational variable in today's digital-first world?
"Over the next decade, experience transformation will be the primary source of competitive advantage for every organization on the planet."
— Michel Feaster, Chief Product Officer of Research, Qualtrics
More than 4 years have passed since the Economist published an article titled ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data’. As we look at the companies leading the way in experience transformation today, that almost seems an understatement.
In fact, it probably needs a clarification. The world’s most valuable resource isn’t just data, it’s experience data.
Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen how companies have been forced to reinvent and redesign experiences in response to rapidly changing customer and employee needs. The companies that had the capability to collect, understand, and act quickly on experience data were able to spot emerging trends, identify unmet needs, refine the customer journey and quickly pivot to deliver the experiences people needed next.
Data wasn’t the bedrock. It was experience data — those signals people give to let companies know what’s working, what isn’t, and what they need next. For the companies that were listening, it’s provided the playbook for the past 2 years and helped them navigate an ever-changing landscape.
Moving forward, experience data is only going to get more valuable. According to our 2022 Market Research Trends report, organizations are investing heavily in product, customer and brand experience technologies to understand what customers want and how to deliver meaningful experiences. And the reason for this is simple: experiences are everything.
Experiences are everything
As the leader in Experience Management (XM), Qualtrics has had a front-row seat to experience transformation. Over the years, we’ve seen XM evolve from something limited to only the largest of brands, into the key differentiator and the defining variable for success in today’s world.
Companies are being challenged on multiple fronts, and the organizations thriving in this new environment are the ones that are using experience management to fundamentally change how they operate.
We’re seeing prolific customer service firms and private equity businesses aggressively acquire the technologies to listen, understand and act on experience data gathered at every touchpoint. The rapid acquisition of these companies just goes to show that traction is picking up, and that the market landscape is changing. XM is already well underway — and many are lagging behind.
Just look at general retailers like Kroger, for example. They know that when it comes to online grocery shopping, their shoppers expect to receive their groceries on their specified date and time — whether that’s same or next-day delivery — and with 100% accuracy.
By working with the Ocado Robotics team, Kroger has raised the bar on both physical and digital grocery shopping via a new generation of fulfillment centers. The technology makes light work of even the most complex order, picking a 50-item order in under 5 minutes with 99% accuracy. Not only does this speed, efficiency and accuracy help to keep their costs down — it also allows Kroger to meet the demands of today’s omnichannel landscape and deliver exactly what customers need, when they need it.
You’ve also got the likes of Target — they upped the customer experience by developing new technology that enables stores to personalize the Drive-Up service.
The Drive-Up service allows customers to purchase orders online and pick them up from a Target store at their convenience. They just need to select the pick-up option once their order is ready, select their Target store of choice, alert the staff — through the app — that they’re at the store and waiting, and the staff will load up the car. No personal contact required.
It’s a simple but transformative process when you think about the COVID-19 pandemic and how organizations continue to meet the needs of customers. Through customer experience data, Target has added a personal touch to the retail experience while maximizing safety.
But let’s step away from the retail space for a moment. In the tech space, Samsung empowered people to overcome their barriers through their global Do What You Can’t campaign. The slogan was first used in 2017 and captures the brand’s mission of helping customers to do things that were recently impossible. Doubling-down on that message, Samsung put together an incredible video epic featuring real characters who struggle against physical and psychological barriers to achieve greatness.
Then in the fast food industry, Domino’s has experienced 36 straight quarters of sales growth thanks to their focus on supply chain innovation. They’re now piloting driverless delivery and electronic bikes to stay ahead of the competition, and ensure that when it comes to getting pizza to your door, they’re miles ahead of everyone else.
All these brands and businesses are listening, understanding and then acting on data and customer expectations to create new experiences that engage and inspire us all.
Build for prospects, customers and employees
The idea of listening, understanding and then acting on data to create breakthrough experiences is Qualtrics philosophy. It’s only over the last few years that others have started with experience transformation, galvanized into action by the growing number of digital channels, competition and the realization that seamless customer services go hand-in-hand with experience management.
However, while every organization wants to invest in XM, the fundamental issue is that few organizations truly have a process and system in place to utilize it.
XM is all about listening to the voice of your customers, employees, and other stakeholders, and using the knowledge, understanding and insight you get from them to design breakthrough experiences. It’s about creating a system and culture of action that’s all about driving and realizing positive change.
By marrying experience data (X) with operational data (O), companies can hear every voice, understand what they need and take action at scale to increase brand loyalty and advocacy, design better products, deliver greater customer and employee satisfaction, and ultimately drive growth.
The first step is to listen and remember. If you want to create hyper-personalized experiences, you have to understand your prospects, customers and employees. This means capturing what they say about you on social media, their responses on satisfaction surveys, their complaints to your customer service team. It means listening at every opportunity. By capturing this information, you can gradually build rich, detailed profiles of your prospects, customers and employees that show you exactly what they like, need and how they feel about their interactions with your company.
From there, you start to process and understand your prospects, customers and employees through the data you capture. Then, you can take that information, plug it into an analytics engine and get actionable advice on what to do next. You can even model the impact of your changes to see which recommendations to prioritize, allowing you to design and deliver the experiences that people want.
Finally, build and create processes to act on those recommendations. Set up triggers to automate workflows and inform key stakeholders within your organization of prospect and customer changes at every touchpoint. Ensure that everyone knows what needs to happen next, and then scale your ability to respond through intelligent, customizable workflows.
“The companies that are seeing success today are those that are listening more deeply to what their prospects, customers and employees are telling them, and across every channel they use. They’re then using this experience data to close gaps and develop new, personalized journeys that turn prospects, customers and employees into fans,”
— Brad Anderson, President, Products and Services, Qualtrics
Lead by example, define your success
Experiences are everything. It’s no longer enough to just sell a great product or service, and the brands and businesses that go all-in on customer satisfaction are winning.
As the leader in XM, we’re always looking to see which moves are resonating with consumers, and which companies are leading the charge with breakthrough customer, product and brand experiences. And here are just a few of them:
It’s not inaccurate to say that we’re in the midst of a category-defining moment, and we’ve been fortunate enough to be in the front row for the entire journey.
Organizations now face a two-fold challenge: continuing to drive value from the innovations they’ve stood up, while doubling down on listening to customers to identify what’s working, what’s not and designing the experiences they want (and expect) next.
As we move forward, in every industry, companies will win or lose based on their ability to not just collect, but take action on experience data — whether that’s defining new journeys for specific customer segments or improving personalization at scale across key business functions.
The time to take the actions that empower your customers is now, and the technology exists to make that happen. If you were to think about XM from a product life cycle perspective, we’re well beyond the early adoption stage; we’ve already seen leading brands and businesses transform their experiences through XM. The question is, will you be with the early majority or lag behind?
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