Medallia Experience 21
PHOTO: Medallia/CMSWire

Citing the incredible challenges faced during the past year, Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch kicked off Experience 21 with inspirational examples of how the world has come together to drive change.

From the sacrifices we have all made to slow the spread of COVID-19, to the scientific community that rallied to develop a vaccine in record time, to how the world has stood up to racial injustices, “2020 was proof that we can change outcomes through massive engagement,” Stretch said during the opening of Medallia’s annual user conference, Experience.

In the business world, the same holds true, but Stretch noted that change isn’t linear: Those not paying close attention to what’s going on around them can be caught flatfooted. While the world’s largest public companies have seen their collective profits rise $335 billion in recent years, according to McKinsey, the bottom 20% have lost $303 billion. COVID-19 has widened the gap, opening up opportunities for companies that take the right action.

“When you’re paying attention, when you’re really looking for the early warning signs, the future doesn’t seem so uncertain,” Stretch said. “But all too often, we miss the signals that help us predict the future. We take actions for the majority based on the views of the vocal minority. We accept that the majority is silent, when in reality we’re just not listening.”

And because of that, he said, companies struggle to understand customers’ digital footprint, bring together all parts of the experience and ultimately, foster innovation fast enough.

Throughout the three-day virtual event that drew thousands of attendees, speakers from leading brands shared how they’ve been able to adapt and innovate by capturing more signals, really listening to their customers and employees and taking action to deliver a more complete experience.

Staying Agile by Listening to Employees and Customers

At CVS Health, for example, Jared Tancrelle, Vice President, Store Operations, said the company had no choice but to react quickly in an effort to keep operating and providing patients the care, convenience, and medications they needed throughout the pandemic. The company frequently surveyed employees to ensure they had the right amount and right kinds of PPE. Through the first six months of the pandemic, CVS distributed a whopping 20 million facemasks, 70 million gloves, and 30 million ounces of hand sanitizer to its teammates.

To understand their customers’ experience and to better serve them, CVS used Medallia’s Ask Now solution to pulse out questions in real time. This allowed the team to quickly get customer reactions to new in-store procedures and to understand sentiment around new services being considered.

“Things like COVID testing in our stores, whether drive-through or through kiosk, it was really important for us to understand what customer concerns there might be and how to best implement that to make customers feel safe in our stores,” Tancrelle said during a main-stage session at Experience.

Making Digital Feel Human and Unifying the Customer Experience

As the world shifted to digital almost overnight, innovative companies like Volvo saw it as an opportunity to get even closer to their customers.

“It’s extremely important to balance the approach to digitalization so we don’t lose the human touch, which is very much a part of who we are,” said Christian Schmidt, Head of Customer Experience, Volvo, during the opening keynote. “We are a human company. We want to meet people in a human, respectful way, and we should use digital for that. It’s a tool and method to get closer to our consumers and to help our consumers get a better experience.”

Stretch asked about the challenge of delivering an end-to-end experience that brings together everything into one holistic experience.

Omnichannel is obviously a word everyone is familiar with. It means different things to different people. But to me, it means it feels like it’s one channel for the consumer — or one brand,” said Schmidt.

He talked about moving beyond surveys and tapping into the company’s gold, the signals coming from its customer care support, and using Medallia to help capture not only what is said through text and voice, but making sense out of it through categorizing those conversations and behaviors.

“Another area we are exploring that I am passionate about is every person behind the experience,” Schmidt said. “Employee feedback will be very important. That goes both for customer care agents and our retail partners.”

With approximately 3,500 people working in Volvo’s commercial system and another 80,000 with retail partners, Schmidt said it would be a mistake not to tap into the great ideas coming from all those people and the conversations they are having with customers.

Capturing More Signals, Generating New Ideas, and Accelerating Innovation

For Schneider Electric, an early adopter and innovator in customer experience, the focus this past year has been about capturing more feedback, more signals, and across more channels faster and more frequently, said Cem Yöndem, Vice President, Digital Sales & Support, Schneider Electric.

“We always want to lead the competition, which is why we want to get more feedback,” he said. “We want to get immediate response from all the touchpoints we are having with customers and turn them into actionable insights. That is the main focus for the company and each and every employee.”

Speed was also vital to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) through the pandemic and now as it looks to drive large-scale change within the health and care system through its specialist team NHS Horizons.

“We’re finding the time sequences are shrinking and the approach to change is less certain, so we have to be much more agile in planning,” said Sasha Karakusevic, NHS Horizons, whose organization used Medallia’s crowdsourcing technology, Crowdicity, to help increase COVID testing capacity in the UK and is now using it to foster more innovation. “Most innovators are pushing at something, but on their own they don’t have all the resources. Sharing a few ideas can move it much faster. So what we are increasingly doing is facilitating collaborative learning and piloting and testing the ideas and evolving them in real life. The separation between the invention phase and adoption phase is becoming narrower.”

The ‘Decade of Experience’

During her keynote session detailing Medallia’s product innovations, Sarika Khanna, Medallia EVP and Chief Product Officer, addressed the challenges facing all organizations and industries today.

“Not only do brands need to embrace the new hybrid world of bits and bricks and focus on the employee, they also need to take a step back and break down the silos across departments to understand the customer,” she said. “The future demands every department and every system to be customer aware. And every employee to be the brand advocate. This is the Decade of Experience.”

Khanna detailed several new product features and announced two new platforms. The no-code/low-code Medallia Developer Platform provides a complete suite of open APIs for partners and developers. Medallia Go offers small and midsize businesses a powerful platform with prebuilt survey programs, robust text analytics and industry benchmarks.

With Medallia’s core platform, the digital suite boosted by the acquisition of Decibel, the contact center suite that improves both agent and customer experiences, and the employee experience suite that activates the power of the most valuable asset any organization has, Medallia helps break down those silos across the enterprise by connecting all signals.

“We give people a voice, an outlet, a forum for discussion, a reason to take action, and a path to making meaningful progress,” said Stretch. “Medallia’s DNA, our culture, our vision, our mission — what we are is a platform for change.”

Watch Medallia CEO Lestlie Stretch’s keynote and all the incredible content from Medallia Experience 21.

This article previously appeared on medallia.com.