I have always admired people who can make complex things simple. In my recent Xaas Files podcast conversation with Leslie Stretch, CEO of Medallia, I wasn’t disappointed. Leslie leads a company whose SaaS platform helps successful brands like Cartier and Valentino know their customers and employees so well, they can deliver the right outcomes at just the right times in all the right places.  

That’s a goal that, for most companies, this involves layers of complexity. So, I asked Leslie about the journey he and his teams create for themselves and their customers. Here, are a few key takeaways from that conversation. To hear the full episode, visit our Xaas Files landing page

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You can’t buy loyalty. You must engender it. 

“Our technology informs our customers about their customers in a way that allows them to engender loyalty rather than buy it,” Leslie explained. “We’re already thinking about customers’ outcomes when they invest in our technology.” 

That kind of thinking crystallizes into what Leslie calls the “customer-driven roadmap.” He cautioned that this is not marketing, but far more. “We have a very formal framework for the customer-driven roadmap. It informs us on what to build, what to buy, what to acquire and how to innovate for the future.” 

Medallia teams combine the science of technology with the art of human belief. “We combine that with our belief that our team is a high-performing innovation group,” he said.  

Get real with your process to measure success 

Leslie runs a firm that believes in metrics and constant measurement. He believes in the importance of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) but believes the best measurement has evolved from solely that. “There’s a new metric around Earned Growth, Likelihood to Recommend—these can be measured. Our core cohort of customers—the fact that they acquire more, that they have to increase their subscription—these are key metrics for us.”  

Data sits at the heart of measurement and Leslie says Medallia looks at data signals daily. “There are so many data points . . . we’re crystallizing it for the different divisions of the company.” He shared that the future of Medallia’s internal profit-sharing structure will be hinged around these metrics and fueled by this integrated data.

Success requires humans and technology working in sync 

“What’s going to succeed is this intimate, constant dialog at scale with customers,” Leslie shared. My experience helping many companies nail customer success over the years proves that to be true. The “scale” part denotes technology—cloud, analytics and more. But the dialog part requires human empathy, intelligence and discernment. 

In other words, building upon what Leslie said, it’s humans and technology that spell success. The companies that think they can just replace human talent with technology are missing a key part of the equation. 

“We have clear data that tells us that even when a product is not available in a store or on a website and we don’t fulfill the customer’s needs, they’re much more likely to return and purchase again—and they will spend up to 4x as much if there is a solicited, but more importantly, an unsolicited interaction with a human. The human factor—the step into the digital channel to help someone who’s finding it hard to navigate, the approach in-store to help somebody to solve a problem . . . And so, the human factor informed by digital technology, the impact is huge. And the companies and brands that get it, they are still in the minority.” 

From discussions with my clients, I know this is an area of focus for so many large companies—getting the customer experience right. But Accenture research backs this up with data, showing that 77% of CEOs agree that their company will need to fundamentally change the way it engages and interacts with it’s customers.  

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Check out our full conversation 

Leslie and I covered so many topics—too many to detail in a blog. To learn more from this episode, check it out here. And if you have ideas for future topics you’d like covered, please let me know. I always enjoy hearing what is top of mind for our listeners.  



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Kevin Dobbs

Managing Director – Accenture Consulting

Kristen Stokes

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting

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