In the spotlight with Martin Ortlieb at Google

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Chanice Henry

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Last month, over 1,700 professionals from across various customer experience, brand, research and employee experience fields attended the Qualtrics London X4 event. The annual ‘experience management’ event hosts talks from several big brands including Unilever, Three Ireland and Post Office, with keynotes and breakout sessions to provide vital insights and examples from across these integral sectors.

Chanice Henry, editor-in-chief of the CX Network spoke to one of the Qualtrics customers presenting at the event, Martin Ortlieb, User Experience Researcher at Google.

Customer experience strategy

Do you have a tip for CX practitioners to use when their Board is withholding buy-in or applying pressure to link ROI to CX initiatives?

Martin: “The most important thing is for me I always approach it as a team effort.  You should build a broader base for pushing that project forward, building champions in other functions and working with them on a close basis.  This way you don’t necessarily need to sell this by yourself to a Board.  Ideally you want a champion on that Board too and that will help you to move forward.  So, it’s building that broader base of support so that it’s not just CX pushing for CX but it’s actually someone else pushing for CX to help solve a problem.”

Customer journey mapping has come up as an investment priority for the CX Network’s members. Any thoughts on the power of customer journey mapping and the advancements that we can expect to see in customer journey mapping this year?

Martin:  “I see a very strong focus on customer journeys in our area also.  I’m in a bit of a special position because I work a lot on AI-powered features and in many of the things we build we look across different products within the G suite and Google. It’s not so much a single journey that it goes through.  It resonates with what we heard today at the conference, it’s about the experience overall.  It’s not about one feature or a product, it goes beyond.

“Most of the customer journey stories I see tend to be about something that happens within a product, the big special ones.  They can be fairly limited and we should think broad. This is what my work is forcing me to do at the moment: to think broader about the overall experience rather than the customer journey which sits in a specific piece.

“The more you can think from that perspective: the user experience over a longer period of time, the more you actually see longer-lasting value.”

Read: What Is customer journey mapping? The Complete CX Network Guide 

What key things should practitioners remember when improving their data analytics practices to better customer experiences?  Do they have to wait until they have a completely squeaky clean data lake until they get started? 

Martin: “I’m a social anthropologist by training, so I come from the deep qualitative end of things.  I’ve always been someone who’s considered: big data versus deep data. I think in the end data doesn’t speak for itself.  There’s no ultimate truth in data per-se.  There will be a need for an interpretation and a judgement and that’s important to remember.

“You can make a lot of judgement calls from incomplete data, but you just need to be [aware of any potential gaps] and then reduce risk by getting more representative data – quantitative data really helps with that.

“In the end people have to make decisions, no matter what.  Data can only help you make that decision more informed.  So, build those data resources out but be aware that they by themselves will not give you that truth.  You will still have to make a judgement call.” 

Would you say there are any CX trends that are unique to maybe certain countries within EMEA?

Martin: “As a social anthropologist I deal with people’s cultures and I’m normally the one who’s the first to say actually humans are much more the same than we are different.

“I worked for many years on user-facing projects like the Google Dashboard, the wizards that help users through setting-up. So I helped figure out what people want and what we found is that people want the same things, no matter where we went.

“How they talk about it is different -  their discourse is different but the actual bottom line of what people want is much more similar than it’s different.  I would argue actually against that there are special trends but I would definitely say that the discourse in a country may impact how it’s being talked about and therefore how sensitive people are to certain ways. So, that’s what makes a difference.  But in the end seeing what people do, we’re much more similar.” 

Do you have any tips for keeping the human touch in brand interactions between customers in the digital age? 

Martin: “Technology can help you achieve lots of things and ease interactions.  It can do things that humans do well and [instead of replacing all interactions it should support]. 

“[Actions by technology on behalf of humans can be done badly]. Badly in the sense of automated phone systems that hand [claims over to human agents when it cannot resolve an issue itself.] Probably not a great experience. 

“Whereas in the way of the story that Disney talked about this morning, [value is in making] that really human personal experience.  When you see people making a human judgement calls.  I think you have to be clear about the 1000 times you want to change 1%.”

Listen: Forbes writer, Kate Levchuk, talks Futurism, Trans-Humanism and AI