It is officially summer and the shopping spree continues. Some are saying this latest trip to the Billion-Dollar-Mall is set to upend markets…and yes, that’s the short-term news for those following the customer feedback charts. I’m more inclined to see a bigger shake up beyond that as new and interesting moves across multiple players could be signaling a bigger win. But more on that in a bit. Let’s get to the meat of it: Last week’s late announcement has Qualtrics scooping up feedback and analytics darling Clarabridge for a cool $1.1 billion in stock.
Qualtrics has been on a streak since spinning out of SAP in summer 2020. By January 2021, the experience intelligence firm had crushed expectations on an IPO…paid off debt…and still managed to leave some acquisition bucks burning a hole in their pockets. In Clarabridge, Qualtrics has a worthwhile expansion of customer feedback and voice aggregation capabilities that they need to fully realize the vision of being the ultimate engine for experience decision-making and engagement optimization.
Clarabridge has made a name for itself as an AI-powerhouse taking natural language processing to new levels, turning customer service and call center interactions into the highest of high-fidelity signals informing and molding customer engagements. With the capacity to analyze ALL interactions from human to bot, the Clarabridge solution unifies customer interactions into a single analytics pane including attributes that include scores on effort made by the customer, emotion and sentiment, and a tally of topics covered over time. Now just imagine, for a second, where else Qualtrics can point all that AI and NLP power. Did I hear someone say enterprise wide unstructured data perhaps?
The beauty of this move is it takes the direct feedback customers provide through Qualtrics interactions with the direct dialogue customers are having with any agent, be them human or AI.
OK…so let’s address the big elephant in my post. That’s right…I can’t with calling either platform an “experience management” solution as I am 100% in the “customers are and will remain the only source of managing their own experiences” camp. But…I will say that when it comes to customer AND experience intelligence, Qualtrics is racing to the top of that hill. But they are NOT alone. With the Customerville pickup by IFS, you have Qualtrics running up the experience side of customer mountain while IFS races up via customer service, field service, enterprise asset management (EAM) and even ERP lanes. That doesn’t even start to address what competitors like Medalia and InMoment are cooking up.
So now I’m sitting here looking around at players like Invoca, SupportLogic and UserTesting and just…well…wondering. Remember how last week with the Zoom/Five9 acquisition news I said a reckoning was coming? Waves are being made…in crazy directions and it couldn’t happen at a better time when CX juggernauts across Marketing Automation and Sales Engagement are starting down an evolutionary path we are just starting to decipher.
But here is my off the wall hot take: The biggest winners in this just might be SAP...and SAP’s CDP and CX portfolio customers.
WUT? Has she lost it? Well yes, but that is a totally separate blog post. It is easy to forget…but don’t…Qualtrics is still owned by SAP (or more specifically, SAP is still the majority shareholder) and SAP customers have been bathing in the CX messaging of Qualtrics as a critical inbound connection to customer voice that needs to be ingested into SAP’s CDP.
Words like “native” and “out of the box” integrations have been core to the SAP/Qualtrics CX decision velocity story for some time now. So now…with Clarabridge…turn on the fire hose SAP CDP customers! It takes customer voice programs to a new level with AI powered analysis of natural language, connected to a persistent, unified and harmonized customer record that now feeds all that joy BACK into a system of engagement that spans sales, service, marketing and commerce. Suddenly asking about an NPS score looks even more outdated as customers can start asking, no really, why did LIZ walk away from that last experience putting out maximum effort for minimal reward…and what do we do next to flip that?