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Customer Experience Common Best Practice - John Rampton + Amy Pressman

Amy Pressman
Co-founder, Board Member at Medallia
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2020 Startup Grind Global Conference
February 11, 2020, Redwood City, CA, USA
2020 Startup Grind Global Conference
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Customer Experience Common Best Practice - John Rampton + Amy Pressman
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About speakers

Amy Pressman
Co-founder, Board Member at Medallia
John Rampton
CEO at Calendar.com

Amy Pressman is co-founder of Medallia. Before starting the company, Amy worked as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group. Prior to that, she was a Legislative Aide on Capitol Hill, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras.

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About the talk

A Fireside chat with Amy Pressman, Co-founder of Medallia + John Rampton, CEO of Calendar.com talking about Industry Best Practices in Customer Experience.


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laundromat How's everybody doing today? Oh, yeah, I'm good. How are you? What's up? Let's talk about customer experience. You're the founder of Medallia. Why did you start that company? So I think like probably a lot of entrepreneurs out there. I hate it when stuff doesn't work. And when I see a problem I want to fix it to my personal problem was I was a consultant I was travelling all the time. I went to this hotel, you know, five star hotel in Stockholm

didn't have enough non-smoking room. So I'll check in on Monday. I would have to wait till Tuesday or Wednesday to get a non-smoking room at check out on Friday front desk love me. They were always trying to move me as quickly as possible. But whoever had the power to create more non-smoking rooms didn't get the information and I was just so frustrated I wanted Information to go to the decision-makers in the meantime. I was telling friends and family, you know coast and other hotels I was locked into this hotel because of the travel agency were you saying but yes, I I thought I felt

like we needed to make big companies as responsive to their customers or small companies and when you were there like what really tipped it over the edge? Play Listen to Hotel like what made you be like in smoking rooms, and I don't know how many of you out there have had this experience. Were you just hate it so much and you're like trying to get something resolved. And then and then you say oh screw it. I'm going to do it myself. If this doesn't exist. I want to do it myself. I was just so frustrated who else has

been in that situation. Well, not the smoking-room side by smoking rooms either but you know in a situation, I mean, why did you start your startup's like why are you guys even here? I feel like customer experience is so much about like the problems that we is Founders have and solving those. Yeah, that sounds like you took that to heart me a little bit about the beginning days like you started this to solve that problem. Tell me about a little bit about how you started that because the original pain Point came from hospitality. Pakistan

hotels, so we actually went and pitched a free pilot to Hilton and we came back and the next day was 9/11. And that was like obviously catastrophic on so many levels but we wondered you know, whether we were going to be able to even have a company cuz it was going to be no funding available in the hotel companies. You know, we're really struggling post 911 and it turned out to be a really good opportunity to us by Ronnie for us ironically became Newfound passion. And how do we really connect with our Gaston understand what they

need in this time. We're there traveling less. So when these entrepreneurs in the room or all starting startups there in very similar situations where there's something in the bugs them or they see a need and you saw that need you started a company by the way, her company has been enormously successful that you went public last June July July last July and congratulations like it's spin it sounds like a really fun ride an overnight success. It's a lot of jokes about the overnight sex. How long ago did you start their start in

2001 2001. So definitely an overnight success tell me about your first customer customer are free customer was Hilton. Our first paid customer was Wyndham Hotel and how crucial was that in the beginning tell me about that experience on how you brought them on and what wind into that. I mean, I think you know what really passionate about customer experience but because when we started we couldn't really raise funds so, you know, our customers were truly

our Lifeline in a way that you know, someone I can comment like they weren't they were funding us. So, you know, we were almost co-developing this product really really listening to the pain points of our customers as we built it. So, yeah, no, Are the startup Founders in here obviously starting things what mistakes do you see Founders making over and over and over that's detrimental to their business. I mean, I've made a ton of mistakes. I'm sure all of you have made a ton of mistakes, but the only mistake that I think you shouldn't repeat is there

sis tendency, you know s you go into a certainly for me as we started to grow and you you are constantly facing new challenges the one time where I really regret what I did is when I defer to someone who had more experience and I sort of suspended my judgment, I think you should be talking to as many people as possible. I think you should be soliciting as many expert opinions as possible. But when it's all said and done you listen to all of it and you still make your own call and whenever like my gut was telling me one thing but I said, but they have so

much more experience. That's what I made a decision that I generally And even when you make a decision, you know, you know on your own using your own judgment and you making you turn it turns out to be a mistake. That's a beautiful learning because you have owned that learning in a different way than when you sort of defer to someone else and take their experience. So I and I would be my one thing just always at the end of the day defer to your own judgment when in an organization as an organization grows, I mean when you went public how many people were you

a lot? What else you growing as your company grows, you know from 1 to 3 to get 4100 200 what mistakes do you see with customer experience in customer that you have? What what mistakes do you see companies making a really really focused on their customers cuz they have a really good understanding that this is their lifeblood. I think it's you grow. When you start adding people and you start adding layers you can get really disconnected from the customers and this

is what we find with our Fortune 500 Global 2000, you know company so I can't really large and they may not really understand, you know, the pain points at their customers are having and and sort of new needs of the customers have until I mean even in a company are so I switch, you know compared to our customers but quite small. Like I saw us getting farther away from customers just as you grow. It's almost a natural tendency. So you have to fight to keep that connectedness like you had when you are like a 10-person I know we're talking a little earlier you were talking about how so many

managers are so far distant from any problem that happens in the organization from any customer service. How do you keep your eye on the ball at all times so that you're constantly innovating? Yeah. I mean, I think this is our proposition as a company is that we want to wire the entire organization from the front line all the way to the CEO with the information that's relevant to their role. So they have the word of the customer in their ears. One of our application says almost you know what the phone will just have like random 10 feedback comments from customers that

CEOs can scroll through when they're getting out of the shower in the morning and it's amazing how just hearing from a few customers and being able to like crystallize. Just seeing numbers or whatever, but to really understand the words in a customer's how powerful it can be in helping to inform decision-making. I know with myself and you know the company that I run. I'm just staying at that for friend having me actually jump in and manage customer experience, you know customer Tickets customer this talking with customers is so crucial to me and my organization. I found some

of the greatest lessons was when I jump in on those tickets. I remember this was about two weeks ago. I had not actually gotten a customer service ticket for my company and probably like three or four months. I haven't even looked at it and I jumped in there and literally six of probably like 30 support tickets. We're all about the exact same thing and it had never occurred to me that that was an issue or was a problem and I feel so many CEOs or Founders. You know, when you start a company you have this Grand Vision of starting something and you go off and you start building

it and then you get you work so hard on that and then once again, Summer comes in the door you forget about them and it's like no. No, I already got them and that is such a big mistake that so many people like you have worked so hard you paid so much time and energy and potential even money to get them there. Why are you not treating them like gold the entire time that day was a huge wake-up call for me and the fact that I really need to be like in there every single day at least Fielding a couple things and it kind of woke me up to that and you know, super impressive

because at one of our best practice is for Senior Management and the c-suite to have regular contact one way or another with their customers and different companies do a different ways. I do remember one company and that I won't I won't mention the name of but you know, there were people in the c-suite who said there's no way I'm going to call it via the practice was hurrying to pick up the phone and call customers. It's a quarter quarter pretty rough struggle is real and one person needed like 2 days of coaching before he would actually get on

the phone and start calling what state did that they have the same experience that you did wear. Like, oh I had no idea. This is so helpful and sometimes for Asus customer experiences you have that image of the really angry pissed off customer and you don't want to deal with that. My customers are often incredibly grateful that you're listening and I and I think that ultimately what customers crave most of all is not just stop this idea of always having the perfect experienced the idea of being hurt when stuff isn't working you're trying to correct it when they have an idea you're

listening to it and I can feel it in that relationship. And so if they got you going to call from a senior person in the company, you feel great. You're you're being heard right also be shocked at How many times when you're actually hopping on with your customers how many times things are not working at all and you literally I mean if you're not a little embarrassed of your product and you've waited too long, so I'm super embarrassed of my product at times but it's really astounding to me that people like will hop on the phone and they see this

issue. They see this problem and how patient they are with you and if you give them the time of day and really help them, I mean even some of our paid customers who are paying, you know, a lot of money for the product. They're hopping on the phone. They're being like, okay you're doing great. We love this product. I know there's these 400 issues but we're okay with that. Thank you so much for taking 5 minutes of your day to be with me. What what are other like common mistakes that you find organizations making? I think one of the worst ones let me flip it

and say I'm best practice is to Ukiah liked give people wide berth in your organization to start working on customer experience problems and to solve them. I think what you find in large organizations is a lot of time so like limit like the call center person to very narrow scripts and very narrow tool and I don't know about you but I am like not a nice person when I get on the phone with one of these call center people who is reading from a script that is not solving my problem and it's a lousy job for those people as well. Do what we

found in our organization's is the more you give you push decision-making down to the front line. The more you give Frontline people that the power to decide what they're going to do in situations of the happier. The customer is to happier. The employee is and the Costco go up to one of the fiercest it we can't like, you know, push these decisions. Crazy things will happen but in fact a lot of Frontline people have some pretty smart ideas about how to fix problems. I've got tons of stories about that. I was going to ask you a little bit about

a mistake that you've made in customer experience and how you thought was potentially the right direction and you flipped later on are there any situations like that? I'm putting her total. No, I mean I think you know, the biggest the biggest one is to is really to ignore problems. And I'm not to engage with that then we all have but in terms of us personally are or our customers that which one are you talking about more yourself and like things that you've done that you're like, oh, I would have loved to

fix that or you came back and like for example, you know one that comes to myself was me and not jumping in this for tickets. That was one big problem what we had another big problem that I've had in the past with customer experiences it sort of not ignoring issues and just being like all that's the way it is or that's that's how the product is or that's how this is this starts to really shine in your organization that if you start ignoring issues that other issues will just compound and compound and get worse and worse and worse. So I suggest to really I think

one of the tensions for most entrepreneurs is how do you stay true to your North Star in our North Star is customer experience. And then how do you also aren't going to stay aware of new trends new technologies and so I'd say some of the mistakes that we've made I think most of which we've cracked it is, you know, where was baby. We got so narrowly focused on defining our customer experience Northstar that we ignored some new technology that had an application and customer experience cuz there's so many new technology is now a customer so using to communicate and so many

technologies that they're using to interact and so, you know, I think that now we're doing a fantastic job of really kind of pull in all those signals but it but there was also a timer Lyon when we were much smaller and have far fewer resources and then you think about this Northstar and you're like we we we don't have the resources to go after that. That's like off that's a little Attention that so figuring out that tension between staying true to what you are and then also opening it up wide enough to bring in it to decide which you know new technology in which New Paths to explore in

keeping in touch with customers during that I like is it will help you stay true to your mission better than anything else not listening to the - Silicon Valley but listening to your customers, how do you suggest? I mean, there's a fine line between staying true to your customers and you know, improving your bottom line and I know a lot of us in the room have accepted investor capital and were expected to produce a return and move forward and you know, you see the all these companies that you know, get a hundred million dollars and they're expected to turn a hundred million

dollars into a couple billion dollars. So how do you manage that line in an organization your spouse? Talk to you and ask you to buy something that you know, nothing about what it what if you're you know spouse calls you and asks you to buy a vacuum cleaner. What are the chances that you're going to pick up your phone look online. Look at ratings and reviews and 5 based on ratings and reviews those ratings and reviews are simply collected, you know, aggregate customer

experience. So your customer experience is absolutely your brand in this day and age and a way that it wasn't even when we started this company and I think the power of your brand is completely link to the kind of customer experience. So you ignore it or invest in it. You know at your peril and in today's day and age and I think you're saying that in the stock market and a few other places on companies that haven't necessarily invest in they've been really really focus so much on their bottom line and returning that money to investors. I totally agree on you know,

focus on your customer truly truly help your customer. You know, we we have at this big sign in our office is radical help and we we love helping our customers and helping other people and it's something that score in my life and that is really really helped me is the more you help people and genuinely help other people without like wanting something in return most of our customer service. I'd say ninety-five 98% of our customer service is for a free product. We don't make any money on it and the other

3% makes up all the difference in all these customer support ticket. So really really help people out and try and you know be the best at helping them to their core get what they need with your product. Any any last thoughts. Are you no advice you give entrepreneurs in this room for creating the best customer experience possible. Yeah, I think it's like I mentioned it before but I think the biggest challenge is if you guys have amazing success and I hope you all do and you start to grow exponentially. It is amazing how fast you can lose touch with these customers as you

higher middle management and things like that, so don't do it. But you know, I put in Play Systems mechanism software that will help you, you know stay as connected as you are right now cuz it is it's it's it's really perilous in this day in age to lose touch with the people who are ultimately buying your product you guys. Let's give her a round of applause and thank you.

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