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Qualtrics and WorkJam target the last mile of customer experience - frontline workers

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez November 6, 2023
Summary:
A new partnership between experience management vendor Qualtrics and digital frontline workplace vendor WorkJam aims to bring together structured and unstructured data to understand frontline worker needs.

An image of some waiters in a restaurant working behind a bar
(Image by 453169 from Pixabay)

Organizations are often failing to tap into valuable knowledge held by frontline workers in their pursuit of improving customer experience, reducing costs, and growing revenue. That’s the thesis behind a new partnership between Qualtrics and Workjam, which together, hope that they can help joint customers operationalize the knowledge within their frontline employee base, to improve customer - and employee - experience, end-to-end. 

This focus on the frontline is what’s being dubbed as the ‘last mile’ of customer experience, according to the two vendors. And the ambition is that by combining WorkJam’s digital workplace app processes and structured data, whilst pulling in the sentiment analysis that’s possible within Qualtrics’ Experience Management platform, organizations will have a much better understanding of what’s happening on the ground in their physical locations. 

And it’s easy to understand why, prior to digital tools, it has been difficult for organizations to capture this knowledge in any meaningful way. Whilst frontline workers often have the closest proximity to customers, and can see first hand any operational issues in their physical locations, the fragmented nature of physical outlets, combined with varying requirements of local needs, means targeting problems can be difficult. 

Buyers use WorkJam’s technology to provide their frontline employees with digital tools to manage their schedules and tasks, access training and career development opportunities as well as chat with colleagues. Whilst Qualtrics is used by customers to analyze conversational and unstructured experience data, which means it can pull information from WorkJam’s employee communication and training modules to better understand how frontline employees are thinking and feeling, as well as stay updated on relevant topics that may require leadership attention. 

For example, Qualtrics AI could identify trending in-store issues with a new product rollout or high-performing employees who deserve recognition for their good work, providing store managers with the insights they need to boost engagement, productivity and efficiency among frontline staff.

diginomica spoke with Brad Anderson, President of Products, User Experience and Engineering at Qualtrics, and Will Eadie, Chief Revenue Officer at WorkJam, about the new partnership. Anderson said that Qualtrics saw its existing customers working with WorkJam and was impressed with how it is being used, particularly in terms of how the product is purpose built with experience in mind. He explained: 

What we've done with WorkJam is connect the two solutions, so that all of these unstructured chat conversations are happening within the app, which then come through our conversational analytics. 

Then using the AI that we have, we're able to help a manager, a district manager, a franchisee, the company, understand things like…what are the hacks that the team has come up with that makes them more efficient? 

Anderson added that whilst experience is the focus, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this focus leads to better outcomes for a business as a whole. He said: 

If you're listening into these conversations, you can identify things that are going to make the company more efficient, more profitable, and have higher revenue. You're going to identify things that the employees are talking about that the company should look to adjust to make the employee experience better, as well as the customer experience better. 

All the relevant data

Qualtrics and WorkJam argue that companies should be thinking about their experience data on a two-by-two matrix. On the one axis you should have solicited and unsolicited data, and then on the other you should have structured and unstructured data. Organizations have historically polled or surveyed employees, which is the structured, solicited data. But the real value, the vendors believe, lies in the unsolicited, unstructured data - as that’s where employees and customers are talking about the company, its products and services, and the relationship they have with the brand. 

Anderson said: 

Now all that unstructured and unsolicited data is coming through our platform. There are some companies who are using this who believe, for example, that it's going to enable them to shave time off of the preparation in a restaurant for the materials, which will then enable me to get people through the line faster and actually increase the number of people coming through the line. So the bottom line value for them is: more revenue and more profits. 

WorkJam’s Eadie said that his company believes that the frontline is the “last mile of customer experience” and that by partnering with Qualtrics, it provides a whole data approach that had previously been missing. He said: 

A schedule is a communication. And we can report on that. What we could never get to was the sentiment piece, and it's such an important piece. One, it absolutely lowers costs, by understanding and listening to what your frontline is saying. And you reduce turnover. That's huge savings for frontline employers. The cost to onboard a new worker is gigantic, let alone to source those new workers. So every time you extend that by six months, you're driving huge savings to the bottom line. 

And if you think about it, the opposite side of driving cost back to the bottom line is when you can start to understand: is there an operational inefficiency? Is there a reason that in the northeast, we're having all these problems that we're not having in the southwest? 

And if we can look at the conversational data that Qualtrics is looking at, and quantifying, and using all of their models to actually put out actionable data, it just becomes really, really a no brainer for our customer. 

And he argued that this is about way more than process: 

Being able to take a customer, who noticed the store was very dirty, or the soda machine was very dirty, and being able to notify the manager and schedule them to go clean it up, to close the loop on that functional data, that's really important. And if you think about that, you're making all of the operations tied to the human aspect of it, it's not just process. 

With active listening you’re not waiting for six month old data that you can’t action - let's ask one or two questions each day, after an event happens, triggered from a training. Now you're getting real time results that become way more actionable for the leaders that are really focused on that kind of question.

The impact

Per the WorkJam x Qualtrics agreement, the pair of vendors will also be carrying out co-selling. WorkJam will pull Qualtrics into accounts and vice versa. And the companies believe the benefits for customers will be huge. Anderson provided one example, where an unnamed restaurant knows that it takes 86 seconds to prepare a specific item. But by listening to and understanding what employees were talking about, it was able to shave three to five seconds off of that time, which in turn resulted in $100 million in incremental revenue for that organization. 

For WorkJam’s Eadie, he said that organizations are already thinking about how employee experience and operational challenges are tied closely together when it comes to frontline employees, which is having an impact on how teams are structured. He explained: 

From our side, it's HR and operations that are largely looking at this data. You’ll get some IT folks because there might be process issues or tech issues. But it’s HR and operations, mostly. And we've seen, especially in the past three to four years, a convergence. 

Ops and HR used to live so far apart, but often we see them actually being rolled up into the same organization at this point, where HR is way more involved in operations than they used to be. And I actually think it's fantastic. We're seeing a collaborative effect start to happen.

And he believes that the partnership with Qualtrics will drive further collaboration between different silos that have historically existed within an organization. Eadie said: 

What we loved about the Qualtrics technology is the way they can alert based on the issue. So you're getting that real time data that actually is actionable. And then where I think the marriage continues to make sense, is because of a platform like WorkJam that allows for top down and bottom up collaboration in real time, you can action it quicker. 

We often hear our customers say WorkJam becomes their change management tool. We can get that data before someone thinks to tell their manager about it and it trickles in that very slow process back to headquarters. If we can hear about it within hours of it happening, we can likely speak to the staff on site, show them the quick fix, or automatically open a ticket in a system that's going to get a technician out there way quicker. 

But even if it's something even simpler, like there's a really bad manager in the Midwest, every time a district manager visits a store, you know, productivity goes down because they're just not a great leader, then that's an instant ability for HR and operations to step in to each coach manager up or make some changes to improve those net promoter scores.

My take

I can count on my two hands the number of times an end user has spoken to me about frontline workers as part of their overall experience strategy - particularly when thinking about this in terms of extra revenue and operational efficiency. But it’s such an obvious piece of the experience pie, when considering the impact frontline staff and frontline operations can have on the customer experience. I’ve been told there will soon be joint Qualtrics/Workjam customers available to speak about how the tools are being used together, so diginomica will be following up to get the end-user angle in the coming weeks. 

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