“Are you okay?” That’s the first question that managers at Qualtrics, a leading experience management company, asked employees when lockdowns began in the spring of 2020. It’s a question that came naturally to a company devoted to fostering cultures of deep empathy and listening.
Jesse Purewal, the company’s global head of brand, defines experience management like this: “It’s the discipline of sensing, analyzing, and acting upon customer and employee sentiment to help companies drive growth and transformation.”
To discover customer and employee sentiment, you need to ask questions. Then listen. Then keep listening. Over time, Purewal says, Qualtrics has developed a “sensing mechanism” based on intelligent technology that allows the company to identify ways its customers can design and improve the experiences of customers and employees alike. This deeply ingrained practice of proactive listening is a big reason why Fast Company presented Qualtrics with a 2021 Brands That Matter award.
CLOSING EXPERIENCE GAPS
As Qualtrics managers continued to check in with employees last year, they soon came to identify experience gaps—gaps between what they should experience and what they do experience. Employees were expressing concerns about when they would return to work and how they would know it was safe once they did. They were also worried about the safety and mental health of their kids as schools began to reopen.
By the time these concerns were being echoed in society at large, Qualtrics was already working on solutions. “We’re organized into agile teams that are small and nimble enough to pivot when change is needed,” Purewal says.
Two solutions that emerged were Back to Business, a platform that allows companies to gauge employee sentiment and track COVID test results to determine when and how to reopen workplaces, and Return to Learn, a resource to help parents, students, and administrators make informed decisions about returning to school.
Since then, Qualtrics has continued to innovate to meet changing needs during the pandemic. Last fall, the company rolled out vaccine management solutions that governments could use to prioritize vaccine recipients. It also partnered with the NBA to help improve the experience of players, fans, and employees as it completed the 2019–2020 season in “the Bubble” in Orlando.
The courts used in “the Bubble” displayed a message that resonated with Qualtrics: BLACK LIVES MATTER. The previous spring, in the wake of the George Floyd murder, Qualtrics had committed to becoming an antiracist company. Soon after, it released a suite of DE&I solutions to help companies measure employee feelings of individual belonging and psychological safety, with the aim of building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations. These solutions were built on a foundation of research from Qualtrics showing that diverse organizations have higher levels of engagement, employee retention, ability to attract talent, and innovation.
Throughout this challenging period, Qualtrics continued to grow. The company went public this past January, further unlocking its potential to drive leadership in the experience management category and enabling more companies to put breakthrough experiences into the world.
As Qualtrics sets its sights on further innovations, it’s not losing sight of its purpose: reducing the world’s tolerance for bad experiences. “We have this world-class technology that aggregates a tremendous amount of data to help organizations and their customers,” Purewal says. “But what I really like about it is that it encourages us all to remember that behind every one of those data points is an actual human experience that we have a chance to improve.”