Leslie Stretch had been President and CEO of Medallia for 23 months when I caught up with him for this interview. I know this precise figure because Stretch was still counting the months like a proud parent of a toddler, telling me, “my time here’s been so action-packed that it feels like the only right way to do it.”
In the first months of Stretch’s tenure (his third gig as a company CEO), he got right to work taking the company public, which Medallia ultimately achieved in July 2019 [NYSE: MDLA]. Following that, Medallia began flexing its muscle in its new public configuration, undertaking acquisitions such as LivingLens, mentioned below, prior to heading into the COVID landscape, which, as Stretch puts it, “has been dramatically compressing digital transformation.”
If I were to venture out on the street to find what Medallia is known for, would people still say “NPS” [Net Promoter Score]?
Leslie Stretch: Traditionally, yes. Medallia is best known for building a system around net promoter score, as well as post-experience surveys for some very high-profile brands and businesses. Today, though, we’re quite a bit more than that. The Medallia mission now is about getting clients to understand the incredible value of feedback information. And I say feedback information rather than survey data, because, as you know, survey data is a very small part of the spectrum now. Digital voice, video, messaging, and other kinds of feedback signals dominate the spectrum today. When you manage them appropriately, put them in the right place, analyze and understand them, it’s a gold mine, particularly if your goal is forward-looking: to know what the consumer is going to do next.
Let’s say I’m a CEO. I want to make decisions based not on what’s in my CMO’s gut today, but on what my customers are thinking right now and how they’ll be acting tomorrow. I could send out traditional surveys and review the input from the self-selecting group of people who actually fill out such surveys or, I suppose, I could hire Medallia. If so, what’s Medallia going to do for me?
Leslie Stretch: We’ll give you the ability to look at the full spectrum of feedback. We’ll enable you to listen to voice, to call center interactions, to chatbot interactions. We’ll leverage our abilities machine learning in order to sift through all of your customer sentiments and truly make it understandable for you.
Leslie Stretch: Consider mortgage and other loan applications: Let’s say 10% of customers who were initially intending to complete a loan or a mortgage application abandon the application completely once they attempt to fill it out. The question you’d want to answer is “why?” For a very large scale financial institution, getting this 10% abandonment down to even 9% is a massive improvement, which you can do if you answer that “why.” The data you need is right there in feedback, but it’s not in traditional post-transaction, post-experience surveys. It surfaces in frustrated, social media. It comes in texts. It comes in video. It comes in voice.
So these customers–and non-customers, for that matter–are on various venues including social, and you’re scraping these to find useful feedback for your clients?
Leslie Stretch: Yes. And, interestingly, we are also letting our clients understand when their brand is mentioned on a rival’s social media screens. Because, in the abandonment example and others, those competitive mentions may be where you find the “aha.”
As far as video, is the Medallia approach that when someone posts a video rant (or rave), you guys read it in situ, or do you invite potential ranters–and ravers–to give their feedback directly on a new video platform you’ve set up for your client?
Leslie Stretch: It’s both. The technology we acquired earlier this year, LivingLens, can take any video source, turn that into a feedback asset, and analyze it for sentiment, for keywords. Which, obviously, provides much richer data than survey responses do. But one of the best ways for our clients–parallel to this approach–to avoid a damaging social media impact is to open a channel of their own.
The psychology of opening a channel for your prospective customers as well as for people who have interacted with your brand, but haven’t transacted, is that it’s really a powerful invitation. Because customers and potential customers and frustrated customers begin to think, Wait a minute. I can actually reach someone. Maybe someone will look at this. And that’s a powerful thing to get across to a customer.
Originally published on Forbes.com