The only source of knowledge is experience – impressions of the X4 Summit

X4 Europe – The Customer Experience Summit – Wednesday 11th April 2018


Last week, we were delighted to be present at X4 Europe, Europe’s largest experience management event that is run, and hosted by Qualtrics. We have been working with Qualtrics for a number of years now, and were keen to hear what they, and some of the world’s leading businesses (Samsung, Net-a-Porter, Asda, Dixons Carphone and E.on to name just a few) had to say about CX, and how the Qualtrics platform has been used to measure this. Attendees were from a variety of backgrounds – from leading academics, to research professionals and CXO’s, FTSE 100 companies to small boutique agencies.


Ryan Smith, the CEO of Qualtrics, started by exploring how we’re currently defining customer experience. He states that there is a gap between what CEO’s are perceiving their customers are experiencing and what they are really thinking; 80% of CEO’s believe their company delivers a ‘superior experience’. The reality is that on average, only 8% of customers believe this is the case.

He states that this is in part, down to how we measure customer experience. Companies are collecting more than enough ‘o-data’ (for example, where and when a customer interacted with the brand or product) and nowhere near enough ‘x-data’ (belief, emotion and intention). It is this ‘X-data’ that Ryan thinks is the best predictor of future behaviour.

So besides being able to better predict what customers will think and feel in the future, what are the benefits of measuring customer experience? Well, his hypothesis is that:

“In the future, all leading companies in all fields will be experience brands”


The ramifications here are far reaching, with the implication being that providing a great product or service is now not enough. Brands also need to provide a superior experience, or risk being left by the wayside. There is certainly evidence to suggest that this may be the case. Using retail as an example, there has already been a shift in how some brands utilise their physical retail lots, with some refining their stores to deliver a superior, and ultimately differentiating customer experience. For example, the likes of John Lewis, Next and Debenhams have introduced restaurants, barbers and prosecco bars - this is a new kind of competitive advantage; being able to offer a fantastic shopping experience, and potentially even a full day out, under one roof.


Keith Fletcher, Head of CX at E.on, went on to tell us about the successes they’ve had as a result of their own, sustained programme of improved customer experience. Starting the programme from scratch 6 years ago, they have improved their NPS by 40 points since 2012, by living by the core value of ‘putting customers first’. In practice, this meant designating customer experience champions across each team within the business. This meant that feedback was passed on quickly and efficiently, and ultimately, customers felt the benefit.


There were hundreds of other fantastic speakers throughout the rest of the dayCarl Tabisz and Asda discussing the importance of employee engagement, Kit Hagemann and Dixons Carphone talking us through building the UK’s biggest tech support brand from the ground up and Amy Vetter and Samsung discussing the role of personalisation, something we’ve previously looked at in our own self sponsored study, in the ‘war for smartphone success’

As we were winding down for the day, Dr Peter Lovatt, the self-styled, irreverent dance psychologist took to the stage to discuss how dance can unlock our hidden potentials. While the majority of his work so far has focussed in on the impact dance can have on those suffering from Parkinson’s, he also demonstrated the uplift dance can have in individuals’ capacities for creative and divergent thinking. Jake Gardner in the Leeds office will no doubt be leading the TMc workstream into how we could use this to our advantage…. (I’m thinking a small dance routine before every brainstorm in the future)

To close the show there was a performance from Dara O’Briain, followed by a beer or two in the cellars of an old brewery. All that’s left is to say that Qualtrics truly put their money where their mouth is as far as experiences are concerned– thanks for a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking day





Chris Handford