Hi Zack, tell us about yourself and share some background about Medallia’s Customer Experience team (and how you ended up joining Medallia).
I am a person, father, employee, professional, patient, customer, and citizen. I truly believe we all deserve great experiences in our everyday lives. For far too long, we have always been looked at as customer numbers, revenue, human capital and another appointment at the office.
In my first 8+ years in the workforce, I led operations and customer service teams and focused heavily on metrics. We judged a success in our operating division purely by the business outcome metrics, and over time, we wondered why we were churning customers and employees at a record pace.
That’s when I decided to jump in our customer feedback to truly listen and understand why. It was in that submersion that I became passionate about creating incredible experiences that ultimately led to business outcomes. Prior to joining Medallia, I was the Head of Customer Experience and Sales Operations for a large North American retailer and our team built an experience culture from the ground up.
I joined Medallia in October 2019. Medallia was our VoC partner and challenged and stretched our team to be customer-centric, and helped us achieve our motto of ‘we build for our customers by our customers.’ I joined Medallia not only because we are the pioneer and market leader in Experience Management, but because our leadership truly embodies the experience culture we partner with leading global brands to build/create.
eCommerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
Rather than just treating feedback as useful data, act on it. Online/social reviews offer a goldmine of customer insights but overlooking the opportunity to take an active voice in the online conversation is where many brands fall short.
Brands can use this data and channel to:
- Manage your online reputation by alerting and enabling managers to respond to negative online comments in real-time.
- Improve search rankings by capitalizing on the survey volume already being collected and encouraging customers to share their feedback (good or bad) via social.
- Stay ahead of the competition by reviewing both scores and commentary for local rivals by social source to understand the why behind competitor scores.
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good digital transformation strategy?
I am fortunate to work with some of the most innovative retail brands across the world. They all have a few foundational principles that have helped them accelerate their digital transformation strategy: Foundational belief in acting on customer feedback & signals to optimize and innovate, strong Executive Sponsorship/Leadership, active cross-functional team inspired to build experiences, and a culture that is based on ‘fail fast.’
How much has the role of the CX in the social distancing era – what role has a digital transformation in this crisis?
- For the last 8-10 years, digital transformation has been on the mind and strategic vision of every organization, but oftentimes lacks the funding and executive patience to execute digital transformation. Here are 5 key lessons from 2020:
- . Listen, learn, optimize – In-the-moment direct feedback in new places
- Treat all customers like new customers – Expectations/needs have shifted, even for long-time customers, and that is the new normal
- Stay connected through the customer journey – Real-time engagement is not a 1-time thing and neither is actioning
- Deeper insights drive innovation – Asking the most relevant questions at the right time leads to new, critical insights
- Think what next, not what now – Disruption will always be in the Digital space but Brands need to plan to respond more proactively, predictively, and personally to differentiate and delight
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
The value and impact of empathy. And, the power of listening. The pandemic impacted every human being, and the ability to listen and empathize through connecting was the greatest equalizer.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events; what was your favorite one?
It’s hard to choose a specific webinar or event. I attended several, hosted, and participated in several as well. Overall, I would say it was the experience that was created and seeing companies/organizations iterate on learnings to make them more impactful. One of my favorites was a cocktail hour and open discussion with brands on digital innovation.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should CEOs gear up to the changing times?
One of the unseen benefits of virtual work is that it makes it incredibly easy to engage employees to understand how they feel about working remotely. The most important thing brands can do is start today. Employees are never tired or fatigued of giving feedback to their employers on how their experience can be improved for better results. They are fatigued with giving feedback and no action being taken. Here are a few ‘getting started’ tips:
- Take a proactive approach and engage employees through a short survey via email or SMS
- Keep an open door to feedback by integrating always-on feedback options into digital interfaces employees engage with daily
- Stay connected through video to increase empathy
- Foster a culture of collaboration by enabling teams to share new ideas using crowdsourcing to drive innovation faster.
- Don’t just listen- respond and act on employee feedback
Customer experience at Medallia
Can you tell us a bit about the role of Global Solutions Principal, Retail Experience in Medallia? How do you apply customer experience benchmarks in your day today?
At Medallia, the Global Solutions Principal team are industry experts and we have all been practitioners leading Customer and Employee in our respective industries. Our role is to help brands understand the macro-trends in the industry, how they are impacting consumer behavior, and help organizations build better experiences.
As the Medallia Principal, Global Head of Retail Experience, I partner from a strategic/advisory role to retail executives and experience leaders to understand not only the macro-trends but help them innovate their experience programs, identify areas of opportunity, and ultimately build experiences that deliver business outcomes and value.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
I don’t necessarily have a favorite metric. Although a specific metric or score like NPS, CSAT, Effort Score, or any other metric can be the guiding North Star for brands and unify department teams on a common measurement, scores create mediocrity and complacency.
My passion is the raw customer feedback verbatims. Even as a practitioner, I spent the first 60 minutes of every day reading customer feedback. I would use the Medallia NPS TA Impact Module to help guide me to what was impacting our experience the most, but would always drill into comments. This time and discipline afforded me the opportunity to truly connect and empathize with our customers on a human-to-human level at scale and be their biggest champion for change. They always had a seat at our table. I still continue this practice today in my current role.