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Qualtrics in comparison

In 2018, SAP reported the acquisition of software company Qualtrics for eight billion dollars. Qualtrics is an experience management (XM) solution with customer, employee, brand, and product experience that generates XM data using surveys of relevant user groups.
Gabriele Roth-Dietrich, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences
21 December 2020
[shutterstock: 18511663, Hurst Photo]
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The question is how Qualtrics stands out from the already abundant survey tools in terms of feature set or other differentiators, and whether Qualtrics' special features justify its high purchase price.

Experience Management

The more globalization and market transparency advance and the more homogeneous products and service offerings become as a result, the more difficult it is for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. A holistic focus on the needs of customers and the promotion of positive customer experiences offer a way out of this problem area.

Customer experience (CX) combines the totality of all subjectively perceived direct and indirect interactions between a consumer and a provider as well as their cognitive and affective evaluation, whether before, during, or after the purchase across all customer touchpoints in the customer journey. A successful CX remains in a customer's memory and triggers a desire for repetition and recommendation.

Successful CX management aims to bind customers loyally to the company through positive experiences, to further develop the customer relationship, to increase customer satisfaction through overfulfilled expectations, and thus ultimately to increase sales and company value. It focuses on the customers' perspective, their emotions and subjective impressions.

Various key performance indicators (KPIs) measure the effectiveness of CX measures. The Net Promoter Score, for example, determines customer loyalty by asking how likely customers are to recommend a company or product to others. The collection of other KPIs and their combination increase the accuracy of the CX measurement.

Employees also gain different experiences in their everyday work. As the most important corporate resource, one of the prioritized corporate goals is to understand their needs and create a pleasant, motivating working atmosphere that has a positive impact on employee performance, corporate reputation and, where applicable, the quality of the employees' customer contacts. Employee Experience (EX) describes the perceptions and work experiences of an employee from interactions along the entire Employee Lifecycle.

Employee Experience

Improving EX leads to employees being convinced of their company, identifying with it, sharing their experiences with others and thus influencing its external image. Satisfied employees who feel valued are more motivated and pursue their work longer and more intensively. EX KPIs such as the Employee Satisfaction Index measure employee satisfaction via questions on management support, organizational culture and working conditions.

In 360-degree feedback, the environment of superiors, colleagues, team members or customers assesses a specialist or manager. Pulse surveys usually address all employees with short, recurring questions. Aggregating the feedback gives companies a picture of overall employee performance, satisfaction and well-being. With regular surveys, companies identify problems early and can take appropriate action.

Brand Experience

Brand Experience (BX) encompasses feelings and behavioral reactions that a customer associates with a brand, evoked by interactions with the brand, for example through social media appearances, company events or logos. In contrast, Product Experience (PX) summarizes the emotional experiences of human-product interaction, such as during product use, touching the product, or through expectations towards the product. PX can affect product design that appeals to different human senses, and helps give products a personal or symbolic meaning to evoke emotions.

Figure 1: Findings from O-Data and X-Data.

Experience Management Tools

Operational data (O-Data) describes and analyzes the company's view with sales, financial and personnel data from ERP or CRM systems based on objective facts and figures. In order to effectively manage the various types of XM, however, companies also need experience data (X-Data) on the experiences at the touchpoints, which depict the human factor with emotions, intentions, and perceptions and which the company obtains exclusively through contact with the people concerned, for example via online surveys, social media platforms, or online forums.

The collection and analysis of X-data and the integration with O-data in XM tools can provide valuable new insights, justify current situations, forecast future developments and identify options for action (see Figure 1).

XM tools typically contain two areas, on the one hand the long known survey functionality, on the other hand special XM modules. In the following, we will take a closer look at some XM tools that evaluate well-known software review websites via both page and user ratings and that appear leading in the rankings. The investigation focuses on the XM tools Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey and SoGoSurvey.

Table 1: Comparison of the survey functionality.

Survey functionality

The comparison criteria for the comparison of survey functionality include survey features, reporting options, and general criteria such as integration, usability, support, and data protection. The overall score is calculated by weighting the individual evaluations of a tool. Test accounts provided free of charge, the functional scopes activated in them and their practical testing provide the data basis for the survey comparison.

Table 1 shows the overview of all evaluation criteria, the scoring and the calculated score values. The scoring rewards the best tool in the comparison with 3 points and awards 2 or 1 point(s) below that. With 0 points, the software has not fulfilled the criterion. In total, Qualtrics achieves the highest overall score with 9.6 points and thus occupies first place in the ranking. It is followed by SurveyMonkey with a total of 7.9 points and SoGoSurvey with 6.9 points.

In detail, Qualtrics CoreXM, the survey area of Qualtrics, convinces especially in the category Features, among other things by the large variety of survey logics, which specify the path of a participant through the survey, for example by methods such as Skip or Display Logic, in order to skip questions or fade in or out later questions depending on an answer.

Piping or carry-forward functions take response parts for personalization into later question and answer texts. Embedded data are user-defined fields that are either filled in by the survey participant or derived from the contact data. In this way, each user takes an individual path through the survey. The survey flow displays the logic of entire question blocks clearly in a tree structure.

Another strength of Qualtrics is the extensive possibilities to customize the surveys with scripts, HTML and CSS elements. The translation of the surveys through the connected Google Translate API also achieved better results in the test than the Bing API from SoGoSurvey. SurveyMonkey does not include automatic translation. In addition to manual survey testing, Qualtrics can automatically generate data for survey testing.

Predictive AI

SurveyMonkey impresses with the type and variety of survey templates and the Survey Builder, the user interface for setting up new surveys. While SurveyMonkey does not have an answer library like Qualtrics or SoGoSurvey, it compensates for this with predictive AI for question type and question recognition. Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey use AI to check survey quality and suggest changes.

All three tools support the usual distribution channels, such as sending by mail, direct link or embedding in a website. Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey also allow offline surveys via their own smartphone apps. All providers also offer some additional features (see Table 2), Qualtrics, for example, the version management of surveys, SoGoSurvey, for example, a survey calendar for scheduling.

Table 2: Additional features (selection).

Reporting and analysis

In reporting, Qualtrics convinces with extensive analysis functions, with the AI Stats IQ for automatic statistical calculations and relationship analyses as well as with freely configurable crosstabs, with which SoGoSurvey and SurveyMonkey cannot keep up. All three tools integrate AI for analysis and sentiment detection of free text input.

While Qualtrics leaves the creation of reports up to the user, SoGoSurvey comes with a wide range of predefined reports. Dashboards are insufficiently covered by all three tools. SoGoSurvey and SurveyMonkey severely restrict the configuration and information display of dashboards, while Qualtrics does not enable any dashboards at all when the survey license is purchased.

In terms of integration capabilities, SurveyMonkey offers the most diversity with over 100 different apps. However, all tools incorporate the Zapier integration service, which creates automated workflows by integrating over 2000 different apps and services. SurveyMonkey also dominates in usability. Users praise the ease of use of the Survey Builder and the reporting functions.

At Qualtrics, on the other hand, users report that user-friendliness could be improved and that it takes a lot of time to get used to the platform. Qualtrics, on the other hand, compensates for this by offering the most help, instructions on how to use the platform, a support page, a community form, and Basecamp with video tutorials on the individual functions.

In the area of data protection and security, all tools have the usual industry certifications such as ISO 27001, measures for compliance with the DSVGO and data encryption, in the case of SoGoSurvey, however, with the outdated SSL protocol, with Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey state of the art with TLS. In the area of account security, all providers work with activity logs, while SoGoSurvey and Qualtrics add 2-factor authentication. Qualtrics additionally stands out with password rules that can be set by the user and measures such as session timeouts.

Comparison of the XM modules

Investigating the XM functionality was more difficult because all software providers exclude the XM modules in their trial accounts. For example, Qualtrics does not enable survey templates for the various XM types or dashboards for overviews of the XM KPIs in the trial account. For this reason, the analysis below is based exclusively on manufacturers' websites and webinars, supplemented by review and rating sites.

All three providers address the XM area of CX, among other things with a closed-loop function for responding directly to survey feedback from customers with tickets to Customer Service. Further analysis functions can be found in prepared role-based dashboards for KPIs. Alternatively, users create their own dashboards individually. Qualtrics also bundles CX topics with surveys, reports and dashboards in XM Solution Automated Projects.

XM and CRM

These surveys can be automated through integration with CRM systems. In an online reputation management platform, Qualtrics collects relevant comments, ratings and forum entries from various online platforms, giving employees insight into current opinion trends so that they can react quickly to negative developments.

Qualtrics' AI Voice iQ increases reach by incorporating phone data, extracts topics and opinions from voice calls, and derives various trends from them. Analytical functions such as Churn Prediction at Qualtrics and SoGoSurvey for estimating the probability of customer churn round out the offering. Overall, Qualtrics is clearly superior to the other two tools in the CX field.

SurveyMonkey supports EX with Engage, a fully automated employee engagement measurement tool that, after importing employee lists, creates a comprehensive survey plan with pulse surveys at specific time intervals on topics such as job satisfaction, personal engagement, and team dynamics, and analyzes the surveys using pre-built reports and dashboards, each with separate scores.

On a personal homepage, employees analyze their data, filter out their own strengths and weaknesses, and can provide feedback at any time, away from the scheduled surveys.

Qualtrics offers pre-built programs to capture and analyze employee experiences in dashboards and reports at all major milestones of the employee lifecycle, such as a comprehensive employee engagement program with more than 80 different questions, programs on onboarding and exiting employees, work-life balance or job security.

In addition to the analytics provided by the aforementioned iQ technologies, executives see guidelines for improving specific EX vulnerabilities to create and track action plans. SoGoSurvey is limited to an EX dashboard, but still includes 14 different EX templates. Overall, SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics are nearly tied for EX.

Brand awareness and perception

Qualtrics dominates at BX. Various XM Solution Automated Projects measure brand awareness and perception and analyze them through AI Insights. In order to assess the success of advertising campaigns even before publication, different survey participants are each given different campaign variants and are subsequently questioned about their effectiveness. SurveyMonkey and SoGoSurvey lack a BX module, but include brand awareness templates and can evaluate campaigns through A/B testing.

PX from Qualtrics supports the matching of products to the target group, for example through a concept test in which survey participants see different product concepts and provide feedback on their impressions. The AI Driver iQ analyzes the important survey results through regression analyses, clarifies success factors, automatically suggests improvements and compiles the optimal product concept from them. A conjoint analysis simulates different combinations of product features and determines the most promising combination of features.

SurveyMonkey works with audience surveys that cover different areas of product testing, for example, concept testing, logo design, brand name, and product design analysis. AI functions derive key insights directly from these. SoGoSurvey doesn't offer a dedicated PX solution, but it does offer survey templates on product feedback and evaluation. This gives Qualtrics a narrow win over SurveyMonkey in the PX space.


The use of XM methods generates many benefits for customer and employee management. The comparison shows that all of the tools examined consider survey functionality as the basis for XM, which they partly supplement with special XM modules for analysis and visualization.

Although all three tools provide a solid range of functions for surveys, Qualtrics stands out in many aspects due to its functional diversity and depth, usually achieving higher scores than the comparison tools and therefore taking a leading position in this comparison framework. Companies that only need a basic tool for surveys can meet their needs with any of the tools examined.

If more dedicated requirements are present, Qualtrics is preferable, especially if users expect pre-prepared areas for all different XM types with pre-configured dashboards and the typical KPIs. Only SurveyMonkey can be an alternative for EX and PX.

However, when making a selection decision, companies should individually supplement the limited list of comparison criteria examined here, depending on the context of use, for example with regard to extensibility or robustness of the software. Price will also be a regular factor in the decision-making process.

New usage scenarios may give rise to additional requirements that cannot be covered by initially sufficient basic functionality, but which increase the significance of the tool and justify higher license expenditures. The weighting of the criteria examined here is also not to be regarded as universally valid and must be coordinated within the company.

Finally, a practical comparison of the respective XM functionality is recommended before making a decision, which was unfortunately not possible due to the limitation of the test accounts. The superiority of Qualtrics presented here should therefore be regarded as a snapshot rather than a final verdict.

Gabriele Roth-Dietrich, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences

Gabriele Roth-Dietrich is Professor of Information Systems at the Faculty of Computer Science at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences.

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