How C-Suite Leaders Must Adapt to the Shifting Landscape

Today’s podcast is a little different. I’m sharing the audio from a Daily Dose of OPTIMISM! that I recorded with Leslie Stretch on LinkedIn Live. Every week, I’m sharing a “Daily Dose,” and I will continue to record live interviews with exceptional leaders on my LinkedIn. So be sure to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn for resources to help guide you as we face this pandemic together!

In this conversation with Leslie Stretch, CEO of Medallia, Leslie and I chat about what he’s been seeing from his conversations with hundreds of CEOs, the work he’s been doing with the World Health Organization, and the blend between high-tech and high-touch experiences. Medallia is a SaaS platform for experience management, so Leslie is well versed in using technology to gather feedback and enhance relationships.

Now that we’ve had to rapidly adjust to a new way of life, technology is helping us reshape the world and the future. As Leslie said, “it’s digital disruption at massive scale,” and this disruption has an impact on customer experience. It affects how we interact with customers and clients, how we communicate with them, and how we can gather feedback.

What does CX leadership look like as we see the shift in customer lives and goals? Listen to the interview as Leslie shares how we can adjust to these advances, and work harder to understand customer needs—not just validate ideas.

Watch the LinkedIn Live Conversation with Leslie:

The Future Means Investing in Everyone

When it comes to good leadership practices during these unprecedented times, Leslie shares that he’s seen leaders focus on the people and on having meaningful communication within their organizations. If you listened to my interview with Tom Peters, you’ll remember that Tom places a big emphasis on “people serving people,” which is what we absolutely need to do right now.

Leslie and I discuss the concept of marketing hope to employees; the importance of letting them know what’s happening and how things are going to be different.

“I think our job as leaders, and it’s just my kind of modest view of this, you know, my view is, we have to look forward and present an idea of the future to everyone we work with. And part of that is investing in people. We’re in a knowledge business, we can work anywhere. There’s almost nothing we can’t do in software in our business remotely, and we made a decision to keep everybody employed through this crisis, no forced layoffs,” says Leslie in regards to the leadership response at Medallia.

We have to look forward and present an idea of the future to everyone we work with. And part of that is investing in people. @LeslieStretch CEO, @Medallia #CX Click To Tweet

Customers Needs are Shifting and the Future is a Hybrid

Right now, leaders and employees are seeing that it’s important to be agile, quick, and understand that customers’ goals and lives are shifting. As things shift, we’re seeing more tech-integration and Leslie shares his belief that “the future is a hybrid” of high-tech and high-touch experiences.

Since Medallia is a service provider that’s knowledge and tech-based, Leslie was already encouraging his team to travel less, to have a smaller carbon footprint. He believes that though traveling has its place, it’s also time to think about how we can localize more of our activities and use less energy. Leslie shares his belief that there will be times when folks will need to come together in an environment that facilitates group activities, and there will be more times where we’re enriched to learn separately.

Leaders and employees are seeing that it’s important to be agile, quick, and understand that customers' goals and lives are shifting. @LeslieStretch CEO, @Medallia #CX Click To Tweet

Listen by Leveraging the Broad Signal Field

Leslie mentions this concept of leveraging the “broad signal field,” in which we can gain a deeper understanding of customers and employees through various touchpoints. These touchpoints such as video, text, and voice messaging, give CX leaders more pieces to see the bigger picture.

Leslie shares that “when it comes to feedback, we’re seeing that we can rely less on survey scores and simply use it as one aspect of the signal field.”  He explains that they’re leveraging technology (machine listening) to get the VoC and employee feedback to ensure there’s a more holistic view of what’s happening. He sees survey scores as one dimensional. An important point that Leslie mentions is that we have to be mindful of what we do with the information.

When gathering all of your findings from your signal fields, you have to “communicate; it’s bi-directional,” says Leslie. So when you get feedback from these outlets, synthesize the information and then tell people what you’re going to do with the information they shared.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Leslie says,

“It’s digital disruption. I wish we had moved faster. I always wish I’d move faster on almost every front. I wish that I had done things at Medallia much faster for people. I wish that we had acquired voice technology a year ago, video, TV and so on. And so it’s really speed and anticipation. I wish we’d been better all of us on the planet had been better anticipating how our actions would impact one another.

About Leslie Stretch

Prior to Leslie Stretch joining Medallia, he was President of Callidus Software for 10 years, leading it through its $2.4 billion acquisition by SAP.

Leslie Stretch received a B.A. Honors degree in Economics and Economic History from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.


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