In recent months, measuring and managing customer experience has become all the more important for companies as they cope with how COVID-19 has affected business. Customer feedback is helpful for companies as they measure business health.

Qualtrics has long helped companies engage with their customers. Recently, SAP announced that the customer insights software will be integrated with SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, and SAP S/4HANAQualtrics XM for Suppliers helps organizations interact and engage with suppliers and identify key areas of improvement across source-to-pay processes. ASUG sat down with Brian Stucki, EVP and general manager of customer experience business at Qualtrics. He talked about this new offering, how it leverages the Qualtrics platform, and the insights it provides users.

Jim: Brian, you have an extensive background in customer experience. Can you walk us through how your experience helps you develop strategy?

Brian Stucki, EVP and General Manager of Customer Experience Business, Qualtrics
Brian Stucki, EVP and General Manager of Customer Experience Business, Qualtrics

Brian: Any organization that's trying to win in any market has got to be focused on customer experience. You win or lose at the individual customer. We know that customers have a lot of choices and it's very easy for them to switch who they do business with.

If you think about that fundamentally as the leader of an organization, you've got to be hyper-aware of what is and what is not resonating with customers. What I’ve seen during my time at Qualtrics is that you've got organizations increasingly understanding this dimension of organizational strategy and focusing more and more on [customer experience]. We're grateful to live at that intersection and help organizations get the insight that they need to take the action and form the strategy necessary for success.

Jim: Let's move now to the integration of Qualtrics with SAP procurement solutions. Can you talk me through that strategy and how it works?

Brian: Qualtrics is a very flexible platform that you can think about in three dimensions. We've got listening capabilities across all types of channels. We've got an analytics engine that's based on AI and ML that helps you take that listening component and extract further insight. Finally, Qualtrics has a workflow orchestration engine to help organizations take action based on those insights. There's a lot of use cases that those ingredients can be applied to.

What we learned from our customers during the pandemic is that many of them had started to use our flexible platform in ways that we hadn't imagined—one of those being in the supply chain. I was talking to a large grocery chain retailer here in North America about how they were using our platform to identify where they were likely to have inventory risk. They used Qualtrics to anticipate that risk and figure out how they might respond.

That was a fascinating realization of how the product was being used. That was our first indicator that there was an opportunity. Qualtrics got much more purposeful in working with our colleagues at SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass—and even the SAP S/4HANA team— to get something that's purpose-built for this type of use case.

More organizations now are focused on business continuity and supply chain resiliency. We added valuable questions to help organizations answer things like why more people aren’t responding to their RFPs. The list of questions needing answers goes on and on. What we quickly realized was that there's an opportunity to take the vision of experience management and move it upstream, and start to look at the supply chain as a critical upstream component and effector of downstream customer experience. Over time this offering will be built in a way that helps the supplier side of the equation as well.

Jim: Can you highlight some of the key functionalities and capabilities within Qualtrics and how it enables customers to identify key areas of improvement? What are some use cases of this?

Brian: Our platform can ingest feedback in any way you can imagine. In the context of Qualtrics XM for Suppliers, this is primarily digital-based feedback.

For example, suppliers are interacting with buyers through the rebate application. Qualtrics can intercept that interaction as users leverage the platform to engage with the buyer. Those questions can be formed in two ways. One gets you quantitative feedback, like a score. The other gets qualitative or freeform text feedback where you're likely to get more meaningful insights.

With analytics, take volumes of qualitative feedback and make sense of it at scale. Where we see the power of the application is in the freeform text that comes back and using what's called Text iQ. That's our text analytics capabilities used to identify not just topics, but also the sentiment associated with these topics from thousands of data points. Are they positive, negative, or neutral?

Using Stats iQ, which is our statistical model, you can conduct driver analysis and understand what feedback is impactful or related to the quantitative patterns that you’re getting back. Do these topics matter or not?

Qualtrics also features an action workflow engine. A perfect example is getting a particular supplier to participate in the discount program. You're able to automatically send a notification to the category manager who's responsible for that supplier, so that they can take action and get their supplier enrolled in the program.

Jim: Can you tell us how Qualtrics XM for Suppliers leverages predictive analytics and what sort of insights it can give its users?

Brian: A lot of insights will surface out of Stats iQ and Text iQ automatically. You're never going to hear from 100% of your suppliers, but you need to be able to take the feedback from a limited number of them and use it to understand what those suppliers are signaling. From there, you can extrapolate the sentiment of the broader population. At the core, this helps users separate the signal from the noise.

Jim: Another one of the key features of Qualtrics XM for Suppliers is automated workflows. How does the solution automate workflows and how does this specifically help users?

Brian: We built a low-code, no-code workflow orchestration engine, so organizations have the flexibility point, click, and set-up logic—similar to “if, then” statements. If the following insight or the following set of circumstances are met, then take the following set of actions. When a problem with a particular supplier surfaces, then the solution makes it easy for users to automatically take that insight and route it to the category manager for that particular supplier.

In the future, we'll build additional integration capabilities with SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, and other systems. We want to meet people in the workflow systems they're accustomed to being in day in and day out.

Jim: Piggybacking off that thought, I'd love to hear how you think the solution is going to be especially useful during COVID-19.

Brian: That’s what spurred the development of this solution. Right now there's a lot of unknown questions in the market. Two-thirds of CPOs, for example, would tell you that they have limited to no visibility into the risk of their critical suppliers. That’s a problem that we're targeting specifically. Helping organizations understand if they can count on their suppliers is incredibly important right now. That insight allows them to better make plans as COVID-19 continues into the winter months.

Jim: Looking forward to the future, how do you think customer expectations and necessities are going to continue to morph throughout the next few years? How is that going to influence the road map for this particular solution?

Brian: We’re staying close to the voice of the customer. Moving forward, I think customers will expect a much deeper level of integration.

I also think there will be a growing expectation around intelligence capabilities. We’ll think about how we could help organizations smartly evaluate suppliers relative to each other. This goes beyond just looking through the historical lens of operational data.

Jim: Why do you think measuring customer experience is so important to companies right now? What does measuring and quantifying customers’ experience tell us about the business health of a company?

Brian: COVID-19 puts us in a world where what worked for customers in the past may not work for them today. Organizations have to adapt, but what they need now is to understand if they are adapting in the ways that are resonating with customers. That's what Qualtrics helps organizations do.

Jim: Brian are you able to give me a glimpse into some of the other products within the SAP platform that you are planning to integrate with Qualtrics?

Brian: We've spent a lot of time in source-to-pay universe, which is what we've just covered here. Qualtrics has done a lot of work with SAP SuccessFactors, and looking ahead, there are other areas in the SAP ecosystem, such as SAP CX, that we’ll explore.

ASUG members can watch on-demand webcasts on the supply chain, including “Resiliency in Times of Supply Chain Disruption” and “Fireside Chat with Supply Chain Thought Leaders.” Check out for more on-demand content. You can also register for think tanks and classroom training including Source-to-Pay: Hot Topics 2020 on Dec. 17, 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CST and Improve Your Manufacturing Efficiencies and Throughput Using Standard SAP” on Jan. 13, 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CST.

Have you upgraded your supply chain technology stack, navigated an SAP S/4HANA migration, or solved an operational business challenge through technology or process improvements? Your peers are eager to learn from your experience at the upcoming ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Supply Chain virtual conference in May 2021. Submit your presentation abstract by Friday, Dec. 18 for an opportunity to share your SAP journey.

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