Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.
Hey everyone. I am excited to have Luke Williams with me today. Luke is the head of customer experience at Qualtrics. Uh, Qualtrics was acquired by SAP in the fall and is a business that I consider a leader in kind of the customer experience narrative. Uh, they provide a lot of great products and just provide a good customer experience in general. Um, I've been using Qualtrics since I was in grad school and, you know, 2008, like a lot of students out there and also used it quite a bit in my corporate career. So I'm excited to have Luke today with me. Uh, we've been CA connected forever, and finally got together on this, uh, chat. So, Luke, I want to give you a minute to tell me a little bit about yourself and then we'll kind of go into some questions.
Yep. Okay. Thanks, Joe. Thanks for, thanks for having me on, it's always fun to do these types of things, and I feel like now more than ever, people need some connection to the world. So this is just, you know, an easy way for people to feel that on a Friday. Um, yeah, the background on me is really straightforward, right? I don't count anything in my professional life before the age of 27. Uh, when I got out of grad school, if people ever found out what it is I used to do before grad school, I usually, um, find a way to pay them off. So come out of grad school, this is two thousand two thousand, let's see, 2006 ish, 2007, somewhere in there. Um, I had a master's degree in research methods and statistics from, uh, one of the top schools in the UK. And I came back to the U S wanting to find a job, um, really wanted to at the time, uh, work at the UN, um, you know, working for like the UN DP or something like that, but it was 2007. Nobody was hiring for that type of role. So I did the next best thing. I went to work at one of the world's largest market research companies to help credit cards, uh, credit card companies make more money. So I did that, did that for awhile. Um, you know, rose up through the ranks over there, uh, in the financial services practice, eventually moved over to analytics consulting and methods group, uh, took over as the head of research methods and the head of the consulting practice there. Um, so the first eight or nine years of my real career, um, at, at, uh, at that company it's so switch is a, a great company, uh, decided to go client side after that, did you know, you know, going from advising companies on how to do it, to see if I could build a CX program from the ground up the way that I advise, uh, and learn so much in the first week about how customer experience works really in companies, there's simply no substitute. It doesn't matter how smart you are, how many, how many repetitions you get on projects. So that was a really rewarding experience to work at a fortune one 60, um, to build a, you know, a client listening and customer and client care practice there. And then, um, came over to Qualtrics. Like you I've been a user of Qualtrics long before I got there. Um, probably I've used it about 10 or 11 years now. I started using it in 2010. Um, and then first, uh, was approached by, by Qualtrics, uh, based on some things that they had heard that I was doing with the platform, uh, from analytics and predictive activity and came over, decided to make the leap, you know, build, build a house in Utah, um, was the, probably the biggest gamble. I think I've taken in my career, but totally worth it. It turns out everyone in the building is absolutely smarter than me. So whenever I get on the internet and start talking, everyone starts to cringe a little bit. Um, but, but my background really, it was a transition from expertise in research methods, then into analytics and then into, into strategy. And what I, what I love is just, you know, I love fixing problems. Like I like finding the hardest problems we can solve, uh, and then working with teams to fix them. I'm a big, I'm a big team person. I don't like victory laps. I don't like individual awards and metals. Um, people may hand them to me, but I'm always squirmish and weird about it. I'm much rather, um, you know, focus on creating value for customers. That to me is a, is a better, uh, epilogue to my story, but that's just, that's the quick background on me.
Awesome. Yeah, I think that's, that's why we get along so well is I kind of grew up in research and analytics at Adobe. Um, and you know, that's definitely a core piece of, of what I, what I live off of now, what what's, uh, you know, we live in a world full of distraction. Uh, a great example is like, um, remote, remote work content went like nuts over the last instilled it, uh, for the last two months or a month and a half. Um, how, how can a brand like a Qualtrics or anyone else really cut through the noise and provide a good experience, um, to really keep a customer loyal?
That, so this question, if you had asked me five weeks ago would have been a lot easier to answer, um, a lot more straightforward. So now I'll cheap out and I'll give you both answers. The first one for me is, you know, brands tend to compete, uh, oftentimes on two axes, right? One of which is, um, the degree to which they can deliver frictionless experiences. And then the opposite axis is the degree to which they can deliver something that's memorable. Um, and typically that that memory, uh, is attached to something that people find valuable. Um, I think, I think how that's transformed over the past 50 days and everyone's inbox has been flooded right with these like, Hey, we're CA we care. We listen. It's like, you know, most of that stuff, doesn't, doesn't really resonate because the, the sectors from which those emails are coming are not considered mission critical to people's everyday lives. Um, the sector engagement is lower. I think what we're really looking for now is for the places where we're fully engaged that accompany reconfigures itself, to figure out a way to provide value, right. And redefining what that, what we mean by, by value. Because when you think about, you know, look over the changes in the past, like, let's say two years, right? The idea that pharmaceutical companies are getting away from the idea of the number of pills that they can sell as a measure of value and focused on patient based outcomes, which is a completely different philosophy when you think about how they actuate it. So it's things like, you know, coming up with like prescriptions for digital, uh, digital apps that help you modify your behavior, instead of you a pill for quitting smoking, we're going to give you a behavioral modification app that was built by MDs, right? That's a pretty significant change. When you look at the auto industry, It's changed Easy to access is the focus on the central point of how much value can you create right now? Um, because people are prepared to capture that value on your behalf, which I think is what makes companies, um, meaningful from an, either an investment standpoint, uh, or is just part of the fabric of how we work.
Yeah. That's a really good point. I think I like how you said outcomes. Cause I know like the last couple, probably three years at Adobe, I heard, I heard that shift a lot, um, where the narrative was like, what are the outcomes we're trying to hope for? It's not like we want to grow, you know, visits to the site by 10% or signups by 20%. It's like, what are the outcomes that we hope to achieve from that? And I think that's, that's definitely been a key narrative shift or the last few years.
Yeah. We see the same thing in like in the experience management world, take customer experience, for example, where you would traditionally measure transactional experiences. Post-talk, you've already left one or two questions survey. How did we do, I think the future, you know, maybe seven years out now, uh, maybe possibly less, uh, moving towards systems with like bioinformatics and kinematic systems that just says, Hey, we've detected Standing in a place we wouldn't expect them to for too long, you know, ping goes to the text message, right to the guy's pocket and says, problem denial seven does go for more, we're more focused on, on, on fixing the experience than just measuring it for the sake of measurement. Jared Smith is very fond of like that idea of like, Hey, you can measure things all the way into the ground, right. You're probably better off doing something about it. So perfect measurement systems used to be how we would inform strategy and decision-making uh, and now I think we're moving, we've moved off of that towards a, a system of action all up. And if, and for creating things that don't dovetail to action it's again, it creates a lot of value without capturing any of it.
So Yeah. I agree with that. What would you, what would you say is at the kind of the core or the DNA of a really good experience?
Uh, so this is always, this is always a tough question, right? So I always start when people ask that question, like, I immediately get this image in my mind. Do you know what a Johari window is? Uh, yeah. It's one of these great little, yeah, it's all of these great little, like all consultant, all management consultants worth their salt have like these 20 or 30, like little tricks, right. That they charge you lots of money to have access to. But for me, that one is like the idea of what we know about ourselves and what others know about us and for the DNA of experience. Like I visually get this idea right. Of the double helix. So I focus on like, when I think about customer experience, I think about it breaking down into two fundamental components, the first is experienced design, right? So it's like human centered design thinking, how do we create something that's valuable? That is intuitive. That is being like all those like emotion triggers. And then the second component is experienced delivery. Like how, how do we operationalize the delivery mechanism for that value? And I think when we, we focus on customer experience today, oftentimes it's really focused on the delivery aspect of like somebody somewhere designed this process, somebody somewhere designed this product, is it being delivered as designed, right? We have parameters for how well context centers should run or how digital experiences should run or how we want to architect relationships and what portion of that should be our product or people. Um, so I think, you know, we're, we're probably gonna have to focus more because people have gotten really good at that. Those systems are not readily available. If you don't have those systems, you gotta get them. Right. Cause they provide competitive advantage, but brands are still differentiating everyday on the experience design. And when we, whenever we think about us like, Oh, who's the best customer experience in the world. Some of it is operational, but a lot of it goes back to how they design the operation as being differentiated. So like their thought leadership in a better way of approaching how to anticipate customer needs and services needs, um, it's changing. So there's no real automated mechanism for that. Like there, there are of course like this, you know, if you went to the Stanford D school and things like that, like that's how you learn that stuff, but there's no scale technology yet that replaces that skillful. So when we think about like, what is the, what is the DNA of those things? I think whatever a customer says is valuable is what we're aiming for. Whether, you know, so like I always like give the example right? Of like, which of these experiences better Viking cruises, like cruising up the Danube, like go, you know, going to Budapest on this like $15,000 cruise or the all you can eat buffet on the side of [inaudible] like, they're both good experiences, but they're different in ways. So for me, it's like, what is the DNA of that? It's like, well, no, your customers, this is like just Drucker, right? One-on-one is like, no, no, you know, your know your customers so well that you create products and services that they require or that they're willing to pay a premium for. So for me, the, it goes back to the experience design aspect requires you to really know who the person is that you're targeting and how you would target them. The experience delivery side is about translating the, the value and emotion of that design into something that is receivable. Um, and I think that they're equivalently important.
Yeah. The, the experience design and design thinking classes were some of the favorite, my favorites that I took at Stanford, uh, like four or five years ago, uh, really cool to really understand that it doesn't just happen. Right? Like what you said, um, it, it's something that you have to think about and multiple people, depending on the size of your company, uh, you know, lots of teams are going to be involved. Um, and it starts with kind of knowing your customer, like you said, but also getting alignment in how, you know, Adobe was big on the customer journey and same at cloud app. It's like really understanding where people are and how we can serve them in different spots of where that, where they are with different pieces of content or different experiences. We, there was a guy, um, in the world that, that, so all the Stanford D school with people that I've ever met have just been wildly energetic, super smart, like intimidatingly smart people. And they just bring such a different lens when you have design thinking as a background. And when I managed consulting teams, like I tried to force them to expand their horizon of like, how do you want to approach a problem? Um, and it's, it's a very different feeling, uh, and it taps into a different side of the brain and frankly not, everybody's good at it, but you have to have those people on your teams. You cannot just, it's not ops all day. Like it's just not right. I mean, a vending machine vending machines are the perfect operational delivery mechanism for a Snickers bar. Right. And no one can name me one vending machine, company name, like, you know, maybe if you went to Stanford, Stanford, GSB, maybe. But, um, but the majority of people, right, it's just, it's a function and that's not attractive. Right. It's not, it's not an attractive business to enter one of invest in because it creates very short term value. And I think if people are thinking longterm about like, how do we create customer lifetime value in the long haul? It's like, how do we get them to come back? Like that, that to me is, um, the unique challenge.
Yeah. That's, that's such a core piece of what's going on right now. Like, uh, first thing you do in crisis or recession time is cut acquisition costs, right? Like CFO whoever's in charge of finances is like, Hey, marketing, uh, I know you enjoyed spending money, but uh, we're not going to do that anymore. Um, so, you know, hopefully you've built some loyalty or hopefully you've built some like foundational pillars for success so that people are still gonna come in if you're not necessarily paying for them to come in. Yeah. That's a, um, the challenge that we have right now is like, I think one of the things that Qualtrics has really been focused on is like this idea of back to work, right? It's like, how do we go from this transitional stage where everyone's playing defense? Very few players are out there actually playing offense right now and thinking about longterm customer acquisition strategies, but there's a couple, and they're, they're thinking about, they're thinking about the game five and six steps ahead, which I think is, is how thoughtful everyone's defending right now. So I think on the other side of this in a year and a half, we're going to look back and have some great stories about how people used customer loyalty, that they built over years as a defensible premise to allow them to extend in the markets, even while others were defending. Because like, when you look at like regular versus considered purchase cycles, in terms of consumer behavior and psychology, most people don't think about most of the decisions that they have a repeating, like you go to that grocery store because that's where you get your groceries, but all of a sudden, like it disrupts everything that you think about even super sticky products, like your financial products, like everything is up for consideration right now, everyone listening, um, because everyone is kind of tuned in right now. So when you think about like, from the branding side of like, how do we deal with, with, with, with awareness and sales and differentiation, um, the awareness level right now through the roof.
Just in time. Yeah. Um, so, you know, I, I asked this next question, uh, and Qualtrics is actually a big customer of cloud app. The whole, almost the whole company is, is on the platform now using video and visuals to kind of, you know, be a sync, uh, communication, uh, specifically that sport team. Um, how do you think, especially now, like the face to face has gone right now, the handshake has gone, how can video like zoom or blue jeans or, you know, whatever you're on Google meet is now free for everyone. Apparently how can those synchronous tools and then tools like a cloud app for async, uh, really help you connect with the customer when you may not be able to be in the same room as them. So I'm a big proponent of like harvesting value of the thing you're doing and then thinking future scope all the time. Um, I think, I think any leader in an organization has to be focused on that. So for me, when I think about experience that experience delivery aspect, communication's a huge part of that. And, you know, everyone's heard like right, a picture's worth a thousand words. If that's, if that's true, then a video is worth a billion, right? Like the ability to describe a service problem, uh, in the chat window is one of the reasons is one of the big barriers to, to chat based agents like chat only agents, um, is that it takes me longer to write this thing down. Like not everybody types, 120 words per minute. It takes me longer to communicate that way. Right. As opposed to just being on the phone, like showing, showing, showing you my problem also has an amazing amount of context, right?
So when you're looking as a service agent, right. A Qualtrics, my ability to see what you're looking at, I know exactly where you are in the product, right? Like I can just like, there's all these cues that you're not communicating to me. They're meaningful to me to contextualize that the way that we measure that, right. Quantitatively is like, is like, is speed resolution, how fast was able to resolve your issue. Video helps you do that because you don't have to take 10 minutes to explain to me that issue. I can see right away what it is. I'm fat, it's faster for me to fix it. And as a result, like it's a better experience for the customer as well. But for us, like if you, you know, if your average cost for handling your calls is 10 bucks and you aggregate that over X number of service calls over, over a two year period, that's what pays for itself in like less than a month. And for me, right, when you think about like how it is that people traditionally communicate, right. Video is a predominant form of communication. Now it's just is right. I am, I am curious as to why FaceTime in a contact center is not something that anybody's really done yet. Like why can't I see the face of the person, I have the sense that you're not working on my problem when you're on hold. There's all, there's all kinds of visual cues that we get from looking and talking to people that are critical to how we interpret the words that are coming out of their mouth. Sure. Right. Um, and I think, uh, when you take a look back, it's like, if every, if every form of communication is, is, is written, spoken or shown like single picture or moving picture, like the earliest forms of written communication were logographic right. Hieroglyphs, all that kind of stuff, making some area, but it's like, it it's still we've chosen to evolve it. Um, because we had to be able to communicate over longer distances. Right. But the concept of distance now is fungible, right? What is distance you're in? You come in New Jersey right now. Like we're, we're talking instantaneously. Like what, what, you know, why is it that we can't think faster is not better in terms of communicating? Right. Um, and, and the same, I think the same is gonna be true for the service channels in the future, as well as from our side experience management of like, how do we induct feedback? And the way that I described this is like, you just have to fish where the fish are, how they want to be fished. And if the average 21 year old won't take, you know, uh, won't respond to it. One question surfing, but we'll talk for 10 minutes on ticked off, like, okay, let's go to tick tock. Like, let's get, let's get video in that, in that feedback, same way. Right. For me, video and voice to text are the two real emerging technologies that we're going to want to rely on from, from a service mentality. But also because it is, um, it's much more scalable, I think, in the longterm, because it's such a, it's more, it's a much more rich video. It's like, it's a much more rich content factor.
Yeah. I really liked your analogy of me or comparison to the pictographs. I hadn't thought about it before. Um, you know, before really written language, uh, you know, it was all kind of done in pictures, but I, I think, yeah, there's a real, real power in, uh, so I kind of discovered this, uh, probably two years ago, um, I was sending like a weekly update to one of my VPs at Adobe and, you know, a VP or a C level. And even, even at your size of company is just getting blown up on email. Right. Like all day. Um, and so she's like would, would basically never read it, um, or, you know, it'd be like four days later and then she'd have comments. And then I started using, uh, you know, I used was using cloud app to kind of record a video and sent, just sent her the video. And she's like, Oh, that was so great. I had my AirPods in already and I was listening to music and I just listened to what you said, and didn't even watch the video, but just isn't the audio, like walking into the office. And that was like such a great experience to have that. So it's just kinda like, yeah. Finding where people want to be communicated to. And then also, and it's, it's so much easier to not have to, like, I'm like emailing a designer and trying to think of how to tell them, uh, to, you know, make this button this way and move this image here and do this landing page completely different. And instead of sending them this marked up PDF or whatever, that's just looks like crazy. Uh, I just send them a little video and I don't have to like write all that stuff down and take the time and they don't have to like, interpret what I'm saying. And so it's been really a great way to communicate. Um, Who's ever had to come up with a doc that explains, explains the process. It's exactly the same issue. Right. I had this issue two days ago of designing, like sample verification procedures, and I made it as short as possible and the doc was four pages. I was like, nobody's going to read this. If I had just done it in a, in like in like a 32nd video, they would have gotten all that information immediately.
Yeah. So you like, you have your Wiki and then you also just have a nice little video at the top that people can watch if they don't want to read anything.
Yeah. Yeah. It's all about irritation. I love, you know, you're, you're leading CX at Qualtrics. I'd love to hear, like what's an experience you've had with a recently, A retail travel, a local grocery store, whatever what's a good experience you've recently had. And, um, why was it kind of different?
So right before I jumped into this answer, I should mention that I've moved over now to join the XM Institute, um, at Qualtrics. Yeah. Also it's a going from being sort of like practitioner focused, um, kind of figuring out how to scale, um, you know, the thought leadership that we, that we develop is where I'm focused, but it, it, it, it synchronizes with the fact that I'm constantly evaluating extreme. Like almost to the point that my wife hates me when we go out to dinner, I'm like, I'm, I'm just, I'm measuring stuff in my head. So I'm off. I can't, I just, you know, um, the truth is, is that like most experiences now, I'm so critical of that. When I find an experience that I really enjoy, Um, I behave very abnormally in terms of allocating, share a wallet and, and recommending those brands to friends and family. Um, but when people get recommendations from me, they know it's like it's coming from a deep emotional place. Um, so one of those, so of course trader Joe's is high on my list. Um, but the one I just had literally this morning, uh, is the one I'll mention Warby Parker. So I have a one I have a one year old son, his name is Duncan. He's up on this calendar right there. Um, and he's great, except that he's one now, which means he's got opinions and he enjoys, uh, smacking Papa in the face and breaking, pop his glasses. So I had a serious interaction through a Warby. I was like, Hey, uh, my kid is like, just crushing every pair of glasses that I've got. And I am now down to my last, very much, like, I need more glasses and I ordered all my glasses from them. So I said, Hey, can you help me out? Like, I don't have an active prescription. Um, can you look into this for me? Like, I can't, you know, I'm in New Jersey, things are hot here right now. I don't want to go out to an eye doctor. Um, so they respond within 24 hours. So like, listen, unfortunately, unfortunately there's actually nothing we can do for you that, for this instance, because like, it's a, it's a medical issue. It requires a prescription, but right. So I was treated fairly and quickly. I understood their position. They were very courteous about it and they were prompt and they said, but if you want to, you can download this app and use it with your computer. And it walks you through this 15 minute process of like, how do we check your site remotely now?
Right. It's like, it doesn't replace a health exam for your eyes. For the purpose of writing a prescription. This will be viewed by a, whatever, an eye doctor's called. I always get the two confused between an ophthalmologist and optometrist, but the, um, they're like, and they'll review it. And then they'll like, if there's no major issue, like they'll, they'll, they'll sign off on what your prescription was and then we can make new glasses for you. Is it okay? Well, you've created a process me that is considered in the fact that like, I'm not going outside no matter what, if, if my son breaks my last pair of glasses, I'm just going to start using PTO, right. Just call it, just take a couple of weeks off. Um, they, they, they anticipated that this was going to be an issue long in advance. They created an app, right.
To do that right after prescription check or something like that. And, and there may create an, a very, uh, UX friendly workflow process to deal with a very highly, you know, highly in, like you could easily anticipate this issue. One of the biggest, uh, nuisances that people getting glasses, having to go to an eye doctor and get a prescription. So they've taken the friction out of that experience and done it in a way that was designed around what works for me. This isn't like, we make an appointment, just do it whenever you want. Right. And we'll, you know, we'll let you know when it's done. Like, that's the, that's the kind of thing that I'm looking for from an experience that was designed with an understanding of what my need was versus what they were capable of providing and working through a partner to do it. That that to me, uh, was a pretty great experience. And I am looking forward to having more than one pair of eyeglasses.
That's really cool. That's I mean, that's, that's part of a brainstorm, right? Someone is at Warby Parker is in there in a group setting and they're thinking, okay, what are, what are scenarios where people need glasses? And, you know, obviously breaking them comes up as a part of that. And they, you know, the outcome is we want to be able to help everyone who needs glasses, no matter, you know, the person who's well-prepared. And then the person who, you know, has a one year old who just keeps snapping them. So that's, that's cool to, you know, they're, they're focused on the outcome, definitely with that type of thing. And it's, but this is again, it's like, when, how do we measure experiences? When I, if I called them, was I treated with respect and courtesy? Were they knowledgeable? It's like, yes, that's all good. So in terms of the agent's performance that matched the performance I required, but it didn't solve the problem. So somebody taking a step back and saying like, you know what, maybe we need to measure differently. And I think right now, brands more than ever, like, they need to measure a little bit differently because there's a lot of things going on with, with customers. They have no visibility to like, if you're, if I'm your bank, like I can see your paycheck coming in, but I don't know if somebody in your family is under financial duress, right? Like there's ways for me to service you laterally, that's outside of just the SISEP metric and NPS metric. Like, we need to get a little bit more thoughtful about, about why we're measuring to begin with. And I think that that's the, the root, the root, you know, fountain of inspiration for these types of longterm strategic fixes to highly anticipated with problems.
Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. I, this has been a great conversation. I I've learned a lot myself just talking from you about it. I'd love to hear, you know, if we look into Luke's crystal ball, uh, what is kind of the future of experience, business experience design, uh, where do you think we're kind of headed?
Yeah. And I'll keep this one short, because this could be a whole book. Um, the, I think we've gotten extraordinarily good at measuring and managing experiences. I think where experiences need to be better engineered is in the actioning process and in the innovation process of how we create products and services for customers. And I, and I say that because I, I think performance management cultures to a certain extent restrict experience innovation because there's a belief that the metrics are emblematic of the thing that we care about. And I think that that is a little bit askew. I think most of the performance management culture came as a translation from a history of manufacturing and understanding how to do six Sigma. Right. And I think we focused on that precision level forever. And you still hear it in context sentence right now, or in how products are done. It's like, it's like, well, producing variability, maybe making something more predictable is making it better as like, is it, or is it just making it a more effective version of the thing that you already designed to me? I think we need to focus more primarily, um, on action innovation and it, a thousand percent takes measurement to do that, to have telemetry in this decision making process. Um, but I think we need to push forward on the boundaries of delivering experiences that don't necessarily cost more. Right. That just the overall quality of the experience is higher. And I think if you look back like 10, 15 years, like demonstrably, the experiences you get today on average are way better. Right. And we kind of go to this hedonic cycle, right. Where it's like, Oh, this is, this is better than it used to be. And I'm super happy about it. And then my expectations, like they kind of fade and now it's like, well, that's table stakes. Now. I w my Amazon one day delivery is like, table stakes. Now, can you get it to me? Same day. It's like, well, do you honestly need this book that you're probably never going to read it now, but you need it today. Like, to me, if the question is like, okay, well, let's rethink that scenario. Like, come back to the earlier example, like, what is value in these circumstances? And I think, um, I think these, these systems of action, which are born off of systems of measurement and management will foster eventually what the systems of innovation will be, um, from a scalability standpoint in the tech world. Right. That's what we're worried about. Um, but I don't think that that future is that far away. Like, I think, I think it's like, I think it's less than probably less than five years out.
Yeah. Uh, I agree. I think you've made some really good points there, Luke. You're a legend. I appreciate your time. Uh, glad we could finally make it happen and spill anything on myself. Stay well, stay safe, uh, and get back to Utah soon.
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