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Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Borge Hald, CEO of Medallia (Part 4)

Posted on Saturday, Oct 26th 2013

Sramana Mitra: Move yourself up to a bird’s eye view of your industry segment and talk about what you are seeing, particularly about open problems you would like to see solved but have not been solved by Medallia.

Borge Hald: There are plenty of problems. I think this may be too abstract, but what is starting to happen in our space is that companies get a lot more signals about what is working and what is not working. It is increasingly easy for them to understand what their customers think. Even when looking at metrics within their own businesses, it becomes easier to understand how things are connected. I think they are getting a lot better at being responsive to and accountable for the customer experience in many different ways, in part because these experiences can now be detected and in part because social media keeps companies accountable in a different way.

It is also easier to find alternatives for customers. What very few companies have truly figured out is how to take that information and turn it into a systematic, ongoing improvement process. There is so much information, and many companies don´t even have one person who is responsible for driving these changes. In a company there is always somebody responsible for driving sales. In some ways you are building your company, you are engineering and creating processes and word-of-mouth growth for your business. But companies are not executing as well on that as they could. There are a few missing pieces.

There probably isn´t a good methodology for doing it yet. There are sales methodologies, ways to do accounting, etc. People know how to do that. I don´t think there are organizational structures in place for it. I don´t think most companies even have the systems in place to get the information easily to set priorities. But I think this is going to happen. The winning companies, in 10 years from now, will be very good at it.

We talk about big data and all the data analytics, the insights, and all the valuable information you can get out of that. Look at customer behavior and thoughts of customers, the impact they have on your revenue and your recommendations and how your specific operations and policies impact those mechanics. Once you understand this, you can do something about it. The companies that figure it out first will have a tremendous advantage. We certainly hope to be part of creating transparency so that companies can see it, but we are not quite there yet, either.

SM: What you are saying is that there is now the infrastructure to find out what is going on at a much more granular level and on a real-time basis. However, the reaction to that continuous real-time feedback is not part of an organization’s workflow.

BH: I think the tactical part is becoming part of it, so companies are becoming very good at dealing with it tactically. For example, “The customer is upset – we deal with the customer. This product is broken, so we replace the product.” But I don´t think they are yet good at effecting fundamental change in processes, products, training, and hiring.

Think of a great sports team. The coach of the team will review the game and the team will then practice based on that review. Companies could do the same thing because they have all of the data. But who is going to do it, listen to it and become upset if it doesn´t happen? What you will find right now is that we have certain customers who do it on a certain level. We have stores that do it, but there are few people working there, so you can organize it as a good manager. Making that happen at scale through an entire organization of 30,000 people is something that is not happening yet.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Borge Hald, CEO of Medallia
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