Me in Startup Grind, and some thoughts from X4 Summit

Here's me at Startup Grind on rules for an effective customer feedback survey.

I'm a survey guru. I've designed, programmed, fielded and analyzed more surveys than I can count. As usual, when I feel I've boiled things down enough into a simple formula, I like to codify those guidelines in articles like this one.

Hope this helps someone out there. If your business isn't running customer feedback surveys now, you should be—there's really no excuse.

On that note, I attended X4 Summit in Salt Lake City earlier this month. Great event. Highly recommend it. Qualtrics' (the event host/sponsor) whole spiel is experience management, or XM, as the catch-all concept behind the merging of marketing with brand management with market research with UI design with R&D…you get the picture. Qualtrics' CEO Ryan Smith pitched a binary perspective on business data—operational data vs. experience data. Both have their roles, but experience data is what drives growth—especially for smaller and/or growing firms. Operational data (margins, transactions, etc.) enables arbitrage and "land-grabbing," but experience data opens new doors and drives actual growth in things like brand awareness, market share, and other customer-focused metrics.

That said, the experience management concept itself is a tough sell, in my view. It's a bit overgeneralized (as seen in the wide variety of topics and panels at X4). Good thinking about business, I think, is more particularizing than generalizing. Yes, the role of marketers can overlap big time with the roles of brand managers, market researchers and/or UI designers. But that's obvious. It's knowing how these things differ, and thereby where to laser-focus resources, that gives businesses a leg up.

Synthesizing and aggregating customer "experience" data is great (and fun), but excelling here really only benefits big brands with lots of moving parts. I can't count how many times I've delivered hard-to-get, high-level market research findings to companies who really have no resources to do anything with that kind of data—companies who are better off to hyper-focus (for now) on excelling at just one of the several roles mentioned above.

(In other words, don't worry about synthesizing your customer experience data if you know of obvious, needed improvements in your marketing or branding. Fix those things first with the intuition that got you where you're at today. Then study your meta-data.)

But the event itself was superb. Snapped this panorama of the Warehouse Party (that's Tony Hawk's half-pipe).

X4 Summit – Warehouse Party (2018, Salt Lake City)

As always, I'd love your thoughts on any of this.

Posted by Nick Freiling

Founder/Director of PeopleFish. I write on technology, market research and economics. Bylines at Startup Grind, FEE, the American Enterprise Institute and the Mises Institute.