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Qualtrics launches Qualtrics AI to deliver ‘human experience at scale’

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez May 1, 2024
Experience management vendor Qualtrics has announced a range of AI-enabled tools to better understand customers and employees.


Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin took to the stage at the company’s X4 Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, this morning to pitch the vendor’s new AI-enabled tools, which aim to change how organizations manage their experiences with customers and employees. 

It’s fair to say that in years gone by, Qualtrics was considered a helpful platform that could be used to get a sense of how people felt about interacting with an organization, often relying on surveys to provide feedback. Now, however, the vendor’s XM platform is getting more sophisticated in its approach and is aiming to not only allow buyers to understand how customers and employees feel about an organization, but also allow them to intercept at opportune moments to change their experience for the better. 

Experience is a difficult metric to measure and digital tooling can be useful in reducing friction, but can also quickly frustrate end users. Qualtrics’ hope is that through the data it has collected over the years, it is better positioned than most to take advantage of new AI models and create new approaches that focus on taking action when needed. 

When diginomica spoke with Serafin recently, he explained why he believes that AI will make businesses more human, given that it can provide the ability to better understand how someone feels about something and how that might correlate to their future likelihood to engage with a business. At that time, he said that AI allows companies to build a ‘better memory’ and then use that memory to be proactive in actions or suggestions. This week we got a better sense of how Qualtrics sees that playing out in its platform. 

For context, Qualtrics has built a compound AI system, which allows it to use a variety of different models. It started years ago with Meta’s Llama, but now uses OpenAI’s GPT and Mistral too. It even allows its customers to bring their own models to the platform, if they so desire. In other words, it’s not tied its future to one approach and aims to use the best models for the best outcomes, depending on which circumstances are at play. 

Taking to the stage today, Serafin said that Qualtrics is focused on the “signals that we don’t hear”, which translate into opportunities missed for organizations that know how experience can directly impact the top line. He said: 

It gets to the heart of some of the biggest challenges in experience management. We found that when today's customers experience an issue, only a third would consider telling the company directly about it. It's a painfully low number and it's actually been plummeting over the last few years. On top of that, it's actually never been easier for customers to switch to a new brand or provider. With one click you can be up and running with a different business that you want a new relationship with. 

Some 64% of customers indicate that they'll switch brands after just a single bad experience. So the days when we can reactively fix things when customers ask us to and still think that you're going to end up retaining their business…they're over. The only solution is to truly get to know every single customer and every employee. And to deliver what they expect at every touchpoint and every interaction, even as they move across a plethora of channels. Channels that we’ve built to enable convenience. But in doing so, we added a lot of complexity, especially in the last 20 years.

Serafin acknowledged that this is an incredibly hard problem to solve, but is one that Qualtrics has been working on intentionally for the past seven years - in the form of its experience management operating system. This OS is made up of three core components: 

  • XiD - Experience iD is a collection of billions of experience profiles, based on knowledge of where organizations stand with their customers. Essentially it’s the core memory of how customers have interacted with organizations over time. 
  • IQ - this is an intelligence building block of sentiment analysis, semantic understanding and statistics that makes sense of that memory held in XiD, to discover the patterns and signals that matter to your business. 
  • xFlow - described as being like ‘a human nervous system’, xFlow plays a role in orchestrating the activities that take place across an organization. xFlow connects to enterprise applications and essentially is Qualtrics’ version of workflow, which automates actions and helps speed up decision making.

These lay the foundation for Qualtrics AI, which hopes to tackle the challenge of experience management at scale. Serafin said that companies have hoards of behavioral and operational data, but that the quantities are overwhelming, making it challenging to understand the signal from the noise, and leave employees confused about where to take action. This becomes even more challenging as companies can’t afford to scale their people to deal with the problem and when data and systems continue to exist in siloes. Serafin said: 

Experience Management with Qualtrics AI delivers humanized intelligence. It makes it possible for an organization to build an understanding of every customer, every employee, to create human connection at scale, so that your products and your services and personalized experiences feel tailored to their needs and their preferences. 

So when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, your response is timely and perfectly tuned. This helps you engender deep loyalty among the many, not just a few. And that attracts new customers and employees, whilst also driving down the cost to serve both. 

The potential for value creation here is game changing. 

Qualtrics AI for employee experience 

Qualtrics has, unsurprisingly, launched a number of overarching AI features, including its Qualtrics Assist tool - an AI agent that allows customers and employees to engage with an organization by asking natural language questions (similar to other vendor AI agents in the market). It has also introduced intelligent summaries, which has become a popular feature of LLMs, and automated workflows. Serafin said: 

Qualtrics AI is unique because it's powered by the largest human signal and insight repository on the planet. Today, it houses over 100 AI models, enabling sentiment analysis, anomaly detection, intent detection, prediction, attrition, churn, segmentation, task generation. So the questions that you asked about customer experience, or churn, or research insights, they are answered by an AI that is specifically tuned and optimized for human experience. 

And because Qualtrics AI is connected to the XiD, it can learn and remember what matters for each of your customers and employees, to derive new levels of understanding. And over time to drive dynamic actions. 

Some by humans, some human assisted, and some by fully self tuned automations. 

However, for employee experience specifically, Qualtrics has announced the following: 

  • Identifying attrition drivers - Qualtrics’ new drivers of attrition solution combines organizational attrition data with employee experience feedback with the aim of understanding what is causing employees to leave their jobs. For example, it can pinpoint friction in the onboarding process that is causing new hires to leave quickly. Dashboards aim to support leaders to quickly recognize and address poor experiences with employees before they decide to quit. 
  • Anonymizing and summarizing employee comments - open-text survey responses allow organizations to gain insights that cannot be gleaned through multiple choice questions. Qualtrics AI purports to recognize the most important issues for their team, saving time from synthesizing individual comments manually, while still protecting employee privacy and reducing the risk of bias from identifying commenters. 
  • Qualtrics Assist - using the Qualtrics AI agent, managers and leaders can ask simple, natural-language questions about their results. Qualtrics states that it can help them better understand team sentiment and prioritize actions to increase engagement and productivity.
  • Recommending personalized actions in response to employee feedback - just 43% of individual contributors say they have seen positive changes in response to employee feedback, according to Qualtrics research, highlighting the need for specific and targeted action. Qualtrics AI combined with EX methodology, aims to provide tailored guidance that evolves with team dynamics and context directly in the workflow to help managers and leaders take informed action.

Qualtrics AI for customer experience 

In addition to the above, Qualtrics has also announced new AI-enabled capabilities to help frontline teams - online and in-store - to help remove points of friction, with the aim of improving customer experience. These include:

  • Frontline Locations Assist - a new insights hub that analyzes every piece of customer feedback - including feedback from surveys, within the app, the contact center, online, and reviews - to help frontline managers with actionable insights and provide recommended steps they should take to improve their customer experience, such as replying to customer reviews, checking in on open tickets, and rewarding employees.
  • New AI-powered review and ticket response suggestions - a tool that aims to help frontline teams quickly resolve issues with automatically generated, personalized responses. 
  • Heatmap capabilities - digital and UX teams can use these to help identify and resolve web technical, design and product issues through a visual diagram of customer interactions with a company’s websites. 
  • Funnel analytics - new analytics features aim to help businesses identify major drop-off points along the web customer journey and understand why customers are failing to complete their tasks. Qualtrics combines experience data with behavioral clues, such as mouse thrashes, to help organizations attend to problems more quickly.
  • Customer Care Assist - a purpose-built app for aggregating insights and workflows across the customer care experience. The tool aims to help managers generate personalized coaching plans based on each individual agent’s strengths and weaknesses, with the hope of reducing time spent reviewing dashboards and listening to calls. 
  • Qualtrics Automated Call Summaries - using Qualtrics AI, agents will be able to see automatically summarized customer feedback, with the aim of giving frontline teams instantly generated support tickets. They can then automatically send personalized follow-up emails, and create knowledge based articles using real-time information about customer issues and historical, personalized customer data from XiD.

Explaining how Qualtrics AI will work to support teams working directly with customers, Serafin said:

It starts with the people that you know best. And that's likely where you have the highest signal. And then Qualtrics AI uses that knowledge to infer and then continually adapt for the unique needs and experiences of all customers, or employees, including those that you hardly hear from. So that you can see what matters to them in real time. 

And then when it comes to building emotional connection, some actions are more critical than others. And of course, costs are always a concern. So here's the thing, Qualtrics AI translates its understanding into the insights that enable cost effective and impactful action. 

Actions like interventions of moments that matter the most to someone or automations that offer small moments of delight. The reality is that today, much of the action that we take to improve experiences is human driven. And of course that doesn't scale. 

Serafin believes that with the introduction of AI, Qualtrics can bring experience management - with the human at the center - at scale. He said: 

With Qualtrics AI, it will advise your team on the actions that they should take and it will provide automated workflows to take actions on their behalf. It can even recommend a perfect response to a customer's frustration. In addition to advising your employees, it will even interact directly with your customers. It will learn new skills to support your customers in the digital world. And it will help reduce calls to the care center. 

It will also interact with kiosks to delegate purchase and support tasks. expanding the capacity of your frontline team for those of you that have branch offices or customer facing branch locations, while delivering even more personalized experiences in those locations. 

My take

An interesting first day at X4 Summit. Qualtrics hasn’t been shy about rolling out its high profile customers to support its claims, including the likes of Porsche, American Express, Hilton Hotels, and Delta Airlines. Keep an eye out for customer stories on diginomica over the coming days. 

However, there’s been some interesting discussions too about how AI will become the new UX, which will have interesting consequences for how organizations think about organizing themselves and their technology buying decisions. If that’s true. and if Qualtrics is the unifying experience platform, it’s hope is likely that it will be embedded deeply into enterprises. And it’s banking a lot on the experience data it has been collecting over a number of years to enable this. We will be diving deeper into those topics too over the coming days. 

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