More than ever, companies are awash in digital signals from their customers. At Medallia’s annual Experience conference, companies shared how they’re successfully taking advantage of that data.
Today’s companies have grown accustomed to a landscape in which customers have more choices, and less loyalty, than ever. On the other hand, companies also have more ways than ever to measure and even anticipate customer engagement and satisfaction to help win — and keep — those customers.
Medallia is a software company focused on helping companies understand consumers, and even anticipate their needs. The San Francisco, Calif.-based company provides customer experience management and enterprise feedback management software to a wide range of businesses. It recently hosted its global Experience conference in San Diego, focused on the digital transformation and what it means for customer experience and feedback management.
You want your employees to be happy and engaged because at the end of the day, it's your employees that are providing and delivering great experiences to all your customersSaid Krishna Mantripragada, Medallia chief product officer
Approximately 2,000 individuals attended (up 40 percent from 2018), with participants from companies around the globe and from a wide range of industries, everything from hotels to computers, motorcycles, ski resorts and banks.
They were all there to make the digital revolution work for them to improve their customers’ experience. Over the course of the event, they learned about how new tools, such as artificial intelligence, could help them get the most out of data to fix problems before they happen and to seize unforeseen opportunities.
“I've had CEOs of some of the biggest and best brands in the world say to me, ‘I don't know what digital transformation is, but I think I need some of it,’” said Medallia President and CEO Leslie Stretch in his conference keynote address. He noted that one major element of digital transformation, in his view, is that it’s a process controlled and owned not by Silicon Valley, but by the customer.
And while this process of transformation began in the ’90s, when consumers began shopping online, Stretch said the next generation of winners will use machine learning to anticipate needs, predict behavior and ultimately win brand loyalty.
Stretch pointed to a few global trends that make brand loyalty the holy grail for all companies. For one, he said, the world’s population — and thus the pool of potential customers — is now on a trend to flatten out and eventually decline. In many countries, the fertility rate is not sufficient to sustain the current population. At the same time, today’s consumers have high expectations, and they have more channels than ever before to announce their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or service. Those factors alone make highly loyal customers a core priority for businesses of all stripes.
Two years ago, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) began working with Medallia to help 17 of its business groups better connect with customers, said Jason Renteria, senior vice president of strategy and program management at the bank.
Renteria outlined how Bank of America uses Medallia’s software to predict how pools of similar clients will behave. The bank, he explained, first builds detailed profiles of customers, describing who they are, how they work with the company and what they say in reviews. Because only a small percentage of customers actually provide feedback — around 10 percent — the bank must then extrapolate that feedback based on similarities in the behavior, life experience and financial outcomes of similar customers.
Once the bank identifies customers who fit the profile of other customers who have moved their business to a competitor, it can take steps to intervene. At the same time, if the process identifies customers who are increasing their engagement, then the bank can take steps to support that trend and better cement brand loyalty. “For us, it is about understanding the business relationships and how they are changing,” Renteria said.
Employees are consumers too, noted Medallia Chief Product Officer Krishna Mantripragada. “You want your employees to be happy and engaged because at the end of the day, it's your employees that are providing and delivering great experiences to all your customers.”
One solution Medallia offers companies to keep employees engaged is its Medallia Mobile software, which can capture signals all along the customer lifecycle giving them access to real-time customer feedback from mobile devices.
Medallia also launched a new feature called Employee Ideas, which allows employees to submit ideas that it tracks to completion, something the employee can monitor. Its next employee-centric feature, called EX360 profiles, gives companies a full view of all of the engagement signals provided by a single employee. “Good cheese comes from happy cows,” Mantripragada said.
One thing that was clear at this year’s Experience event: It’s not just the needs and options of customers and employees that are changing, but also the tools for gathering and making sense of the signals they offer. That’s why Medallia’s platform continues to evolve, Mantripragada told the audience. To that end, the company continues to forge new partnerships and develop new solutions.
While the digital transformation may be led by the customer, that doesn’t mean companies are helpless, Stretch said. In fact, it’s just the opposite, he said, noting, “It’s the golden age of customer experience and the golden age of feedback because we have technologies we can actually deploy at scale.”