Luke Williams, Head of CX Experience at Qualtrics, Talks About What it Takes to be a CX Master

Kendall Pennington

Mastering the art of customer experience is a key skill that so few can perfect. In this episode, Joe sits down with Luke Williams, Head of Customer Experience at Qualtrics, to talk about the future of tailoring customer experience and how Qualtrics will transition from defense to offense when going back to work.


About Luke

Luke doesn’t discuss his professional life before age 27, so for all intents and purposes, his story starts there. 

 After graduating from grad school with a Master’s in research methods and statistics from one of the UK’s top business schools, Luke returned to the U.S. excited to pursue a career at the UN. When that didn’t pan out he pivoted to the next best thing, working at one of the world’s largest market research companies, Ipsos, where he spent about 8 years climbing up the ranks. 

He decided from there that he wanted to go client-side, going from advising companies about how to have a solid customer experience to building it out from the ground up. “There’s no substitute for seeing it up close for yourself.”

Following a stint at Aecom, he was approached by Qualtrics, which Luke says was a huge gamble, but ended up being a great decision.


Focusing on the Outcomes

“Brands tend to compete on two axes:

  1. The degree to which they can deliver frictionless experiences


  1. The degree to which they can deliver something memorable (rooted in value)”

Companies seem to be a lot more focused on customers’ overall experience and redefining what that looks like.  For instance, instead of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy chains being solely focused on how many pills they can sell to a consumer, they’re looking at other ways to provide value. They’re creating prescriptions for digital apps that help moderate behavior and coming up with other ways to provide value to the customer; focusing on different longer-term outcomes. 

The DNA of an Experience

When asked about what comes to mind when considering the DNA of an experience, Luke thinks of a double helix, of which there are two fundamental components:

  1. Experience design: “Human-centered design thinking, how do we create something valuable, intuitive, that taps into all of the different emotional triggers?”


  1. Experience delivery: “How do we operationalize the delivery mechanism for that value?”


In the future, we’re going to have to focus more on the experience design.  Most brands now have a decent grasp and the processes in place for the delivery aspect.  The design factor is where there’s still significant room for differentiation. At this point, there’s no real automated mechanism for this, so figuring out how best to determine what the customer thinks is valuable is what businesses should be aiming for.

“Know your customer so well that you create products and services that they’re willing to pay a premium for.”


Planning the Transition

Considering the year that just about every company has had, it’s going to be important that we start considering how to transition once we return to some semblance of “normalcy.” Almost all key players in the industry are currently playing defense, how do we begin to move to more of an offensive strategy? 

There are a few companies that have already taken offensive positions, and in Luke’s opinion, they are the ones that are thinking 5 or 6 steps ahead.  

Communication is going to play the biggest part in how companies transition over the next year. Luke is a big fan of video and visual tools when it comes to conversing. At Qualtrics it’s nothing short of essential. 

“If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth like a billion.” Showing people your problem instead of typing it out via text is usually infinitely more effective, mainly due to how much context can be given and the elimination of a distance barrier. 

Internally visual has made some big leaps, in the coming days we’re likely going to begin seeing much more external communication from companies in this way.  Video chat or something like FaceTime would be extremely useful for people in customer service or support.  Customer experience is all about meeting people where they are.  Younger people are avid video/visual users through social media and would likely be more comfortable talking on a video for 2 minutes than writing out an email or filling out a survey. This isn’t yet being tapped into enough by companies.


Exceptional Customer Experience

Luke recalls a recent exceptional experience he’s had with Warby Parker.  After his 1-year old son kept breaking his Dad’s glasses, Luke reached out to customer service at Warby, where he had originally purchased all his glasses. He explained his current situation, which at the time included not having an active prescription, to see what could be done. At this time, New Jersey was on lockdown and Luke didn’t want to go out or schedule an in-person appointment with an optometrist. 

Within 24 hours they responded that they couldn’t at that very moment provide him new medical glasses without a prescription, but they recommended an app that would be able to test his eyesight remotely and provide a prescription, all from the comfort of his phone. 

The response from support was prompt and respectful, and although they couldn’t immediately solve the issue of what Luke might have been initially hoping for, they were able to provide a creative solution that would ultimately solve the issue and provide Luke a considerate and valuable customer experience.


The Future of Experience Business

Luke believes businesses have already become extraordinarily competent at measuring and managing experiences. “Where experiences need to be better engineered is in the actioning process and innovation process.”  This is because performance management cultures kind of naturally restrict experience innovation. 

By focusing more on action and innovation while having a little less of an obsession with metrics will improve the overall quality of the experience. Brands should consider pushing the boundaries and redefine what they perceive as value.   

Listen to the episode here.

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