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Qualtrics adds XM tools for marketing, service, B2B sales users

Post-SAP spinoff, Qualtrics moves quickly to give B2B sales users -- along with their marketing and customer service colleagues -- new features to sharpen post-pandemic business.

Qualtrics XM platform users in sales, service and marketing will get new features April 13 as the voice-of-the-customer technology vendor moves quickly after being spun off by SAP.

Qualtrics XM users for B2B sales teams -- which typically sell to buying teams, not individuals -- get Account-Based Relationship Diagnostic, a tool that aggregates buying-team data into one view to offer a snapshot of a customer's overall "health." It draws upon Qualtrics XM data harvested from many different touchpoints, including sales and service, and offers AI-generated suggestions on how to get accounts back on track, and actions to keep healthy accounts going strong.

Such customer data aggregation was already being done by some large B2B customers, said Jay Choi, chief product officer at Qualtrics. Qualtrics previously was set up more for one-to-one surveys, however, so it took some back-end work to aggregate Qualtrics data to accomplish it. Account-Based Relationship Diagnostic puts it all together in one dashboard.

Another new feature, Relational Customer Experience (CX), analyzes customer sentiment and activity at different touchpoints as customers register feedback, to enable users to troubleshoot areas in the customer journey.

Tools like these are potentially powerful because they accelerate the feedback loop at a time when it is needed, said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers. He, along with Choi, said that annual surveys had already been on their way out before the pandemic.

Since the pandemic, comparing year-to-year data isn't necessarily useful anymore because people's behavior changed so much that it renders some pre-pandemic data irrelevant. AI can step into the breach to analyze more recent data to spot trends, giving businesses that have had setbacks during the last year decision support to improve CX and remove obstacles to sales and experience improvement.

Qualtrics XM Account-Based Relationship Diagnostic screenshot
Qualtrics XM Account-Based Relationship Diagnostic offers B2B salespeople advice on how to nurture individual accounts based on AI insights from sales, service and other customer touchpoints.

"It reminds me of the trend in talent management, where many companies no longer do only major annual or six-month performance reviews, but rather do continual performance feedback to employees on a daily or weekly basis," Jakovljevic said. "The pandemic has rendered some AI methods useless, but some others were fine, like demand sensing and the ability to adapt based on trends."

Still connected to SAP, yet independent

A third feature, Digital Support Optimization, analyzes issues in customer service and offers insights for improvement. Choi said that with the increasing need for automated customer self-service, many organizations have opened webchat and other channels. It hasn't always been a success -- and can lead to more traffic on higher-cost channels such as contact center phone calls. Getting self-service right can make customers happier and help companies manage their bottom lines.

Many companies had to create websites overnight, and they don't understand the how or why behind their customer behavior.
Jay Choi Chief product officer, Qualtrics

All three features had been on the product roadmap, Choi said. But Qualtrics accelerated development because of how the pandemic required customers to build new digital experiences and needed tools to quickly gather feedback and analysis on how to sharpen them.

"Many companies had to create websites overnight, and they don't understand the how or why behind their customer behavior," Choi said. "A lot of [Qualtrics users] are reaching out to us saying, 'We have no idea how these new experiences are -- are customers happy with their digital experience?'"

Pricing on the new tools varies depending the size of the enterprise, Choi said.

These new tools, as well as Qualtrics' vaccine management platform, are the first major releases since SAP announced its intentions to spin off Qualtrics last year after buying it in late 2018. While SAP completed a stock IPO earlier this year, it retains a controlling interest in Qualtrics.

When SAP announced last year that it would spin off Qualtrics, Forrester Research analyst Faith Adams predicted that these machinations at the corporate level would allow Qualtrics to move faster. That seems to have come true so far. Adams also predicted -- and Choi confirmed -- that an independent Qualtrics can more nimbly acquire companies itself.

"One of the reasons we spun off was to accelerate our acquisitions engine," Choi said, adding that Qualtrics is no longer beholden to SAP's formal acquisition processes. "One of the things we wanted to make sure we could handle more aggressively is acquiring more companies to help deliver on our vision."

Choi added that the newly independent Qualtrics can strengthen its partner network; previously, some companies would not consider partnerships due to competitive issues with SAP. At the same time, SAP remains a strong partner itself, as Qualtrics and SAP work together to build HR tools.

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