What is XM and which brands are doing it well?

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Earlier this year, business intelligence giant SAP acquired ‘experience management’ firm Qualtrics for $8 billion. Described by one expert as “a marriage that is fundamental to the future of effective data-driven marketing”, the deal has been seen as a major indicator to the future importance of experience management within customer-centric businesses.

Experience Management (X4)

What exactly does experience management mean?

Experience management (XM) comes from the need for brands to think beyond simply addressing problems as and when they occur. Instead, an XM-driven approach means using data to predict and mitigate such problems before they happen — monitoring every experience across a company to spot opportunities for improvement.

This monitoring of experiences goes far beyond traditional notions of the user experience. XM incorporates all aspects of the business across CX (customer experience), EX (employee experience), BX (the brand experience) and PX (product experiences). Most importantly, a good XM strategy looks at the impact that these component functions have upon one another; it understands that a bad product can damage the overall brand experience, or that unhappy employees will forever limit the customer’s view of a brand.

Who is doing experience management well?

While achieving this level of joined up, cross-department experience isn’t easy, some of the UK’s leading brands are already using XM to rethink their approach:

1. Asda: Transforming employee engagement

Asda Experiences

As one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, Asda’s workforce spans over five generations, from 16-year-olds to 90-year-olds. As such, a one-size-fits-all engagement programme simply wouldn’t work to meet every employee’s individual needs. Having run a more traditional employee engagement programme for 11 years, Asda recently switched to a data-driven XM approach to better understand what is important to its employees, and how that could translate to its customer experience.

At the heart of this change has been a focus on localisation, bringing the feedback process closer to worker themselves. With the majority of Asda’s employees working on the shop floor, the company needed a way to guarantee that those representing the frontline of the customer and brand experience were having their voices heard.

By switching to mobile-friendly employee surveys, Asda made it easier for shop floor staff  to provide feedback in the moment, sharing vital experience data that otherwise would have been lost. Results of these surveys are now delivered to managers at a local level, allowing those on the ground to make instant changes rather than waiting for top-down action plans. Alongside this localisation, new analytics dashboards mean the leadership team can still get visibility of the whole process to inform changes at the product, brand and customer-messaging level as required.

“It was the biggest ever change we’ve had to employee engagement — it wasn’t a one-off campaign but a change in mindset for the whole company.”

Carl Tabisz, Senior Engagement Manager, Asda

2. Three Ireland: Record levels of customer satisfaction

Three Ireland

After successfully acquiring the Irish arm of O2, Three Ireland set about building a CX programme that could run through all aspects of its business.

Starting at the contact centre level, the first step in this journey was to look beyond traditional measurements of success such as CSAT and NSP scores. For Three Ireland, it was just as important to dig into unhappy journeys — such as a customer making a complaint — as it was to understand where people were enjoying the service.

To achieve this higher level of measurement, Three Ireland set out to make customer experience one of its main organisational KPIs — elevating experience to the board level. Since making this decision, high-quality experiences have trickled down to every part of the organisation, with customer intention-to-stay now reported at a record high.

“We’ve achieved record high levels of customer intention to stay, but one of my proudest achievements is making CX a top-tier metric for us as an organisation.”

Justin Conry, Head of Transformation, Three Ireland

3. Dixons Carphone: Using insights to drive innovation

Team KnowHow Experiences

When you become Europe’s largest tech services provider overnight, meeting customer expectations is no small task. In 2017, that’s what faced Team Knowhow, as Dixons Carphone combined its two service offerings into one, experience-centric team. At the heart of this team, Dixons Carphone set out to create a culture in which every part of the organisation was responsible for improving customer experiences.

By feeding data from every stage of the customer journey into a single XM platform, Team Knowhow has turned customer service into a product-development function. Instead of using innovation to drive insights, the brand is using insights to lead innovation, with Team Knowhow using XM-driven findings to proactively decide on its overall service offering. And this doesn’t just include internal data; the brand has also used XM data to review its competitors and see where it could be losing ground and where it is ahead. This is helping the brand to close the gap on its rivals and set benchmarks to become the industry leader in tech services.

“We get a holistic view of the entire customer journey. This is crucial, as everything retail promises in the purchasing phase, we have to deliver in the services phase.”

Dr Kit Hagemann, customer experience measurement and insight at Dixons Carphone

What’s next for Experience Management?

With international acquisitions for XM platforms, and the world’s biggest brands increasingly adopting experience management into their approaches, there’s no escaping the trend for better, more informed experiences.

Commenting on the acquisition of Qualtrics, industry analyst Josh Bersin claimed that, “The word ‘experience’ has taken over the software market, and for good reason. In today’s digital world, if your experience isn’t good, you just don’t do business with a company.” With this new focus on experience-first business, the XM market can only continue to develop and grow. This isn’t just good news for XM platforms, it’s good news for businesses, employees and, ultimately, the end customer.

About Ian McVey

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