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Do you have a fish story?

Medallia Best Practices Forum 2013 participants walk away with new ways to improve customer experiences
Jim Donald, CEO of Extended Stay America, almost didn’t make the 2013 Best Practices Forum. The day before he was due to attend as a keynote speaker, he received a troubling phone call about a lifelong friend. After accepting a drink from a stranger, the friend had woken up in a bathtub with a tube running out of his back. The audience was shocked: Jim’s friend had been kidnapped for his organs. The listeners could scarcely believe what they were hearing … until Jim let on: “Psych!”
The story highlighted a key part of Jim Donald’s “dance lessons”—the approach he used to turn around Extended Stay America. The company transformed from an organization that was weeks away from running out of cash into the business that was recently named America’s Most Improved hotel brand. Jim called his startling anecdote a “fish story”—a story that grabs the attention of the audience.
Jim’s speech was one of the keynotes at BPF 2013 — Medallia’s Best Practices Forum. Hundreds of attendees—leading industry analysts and experts, and customers from over 60 companies—converged to explore the latest in best practices in building customer-centric organizations. The beautiful Meritage Resort and Spa in California’s Napa Valley played host to this year’s event.
In addition to Jim, BPF featured a range of other keynote speakers, including two authors. Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research, co-author of Outside In, touched upon the latest research on the power of putting customers at the center of your business, and on the six disciplines of customer experience that will help you do so.


BPF also featured Dave Logan, co-author of the New York Times #1 best-seller Tribal Leadership.


Several Medallians also took a turn in the spotlight. Borge Hald, CEO of Medallia, opened the conference with a discussion of how understanding the customer is only the beginning of the customer experience journey. He explained how enabling all levels of the organization to act, and then ensuring that the action takes place, is at the heart of building best-in-class customer experience.
Medallia’s product team, led by Juan Pablo Dellarroquelle, showcased the company’s roadmap for the next 12 months. The team focused on three main areas: improved data collection, including expanded social media monitoring and SMS surveys; improved closed-loop feedback processes, which now work natively on iOS and Android devices; and new improvement management tools, including automatic focus areas for business units, and linking customer experience scores to revenue impact.
BPF is never just about Medallia; some of the deepest expertise in the industry rests with our customers, and BPF presents an opportunity for attendees to learn from one another. Part of the learning process is informal, driven through industry vertical sit-downs and networking events such as cooking, wine blending, and even a dinner in a barrel room. Check out the view from the entrance of the barrel room below—an amazing experience!
Artess Winery Dinner
The Forum also featured speakers and panels that touched on specific areas in which our customers are on the bleeding edge. Relative to most companies, Activision is serving a young and extremely demanding customer base of millennials. The company’s experience indicates what other companies will face as their customers graduate into other product categories. Tim Rondeau, Senior Director of Customer Service for Activision, explained how his company has taken steps to get closer to its digitally native customers not just in service, but in product design, too.


Bret Johnson of Sodexo spoke on how his organization has managed to build alignment around its Customer Experience Management program, resulting not just in insights, but in actions being driven across the organization—all of which has helped Sodexo to become a world leader in its field.
The BPF panels touched on numerous interesting topics from Medallia customers. Kim Palenik of Verizon, Steven DiCarlo of Fidelity, and David Ginsburg of Choice Hotels spoke about taking action to increase customer revenue. Lynda Firey-Oldroyd of Nordstrom and Tom Seddon of Extended Stay America discussed how their organizations built customer-centric cultures.
Finally, customers and Medallia experts explored emerging topics and research. Medallia’s Director of Insights, John Abraham, presented some of the latest Medallia research on how shorter surveys can actually result in more data. Peter Kriss, Medallia’s Chief Research Scientist, discussed the impact mobile usage is having on customer feedback. Peter drew on extensive data from across the hospitality industry, which has been a leader in taking customer feedback to wherever its customers are. This is just a small sample: Medallia and its customers explored numerous other topics, from how to use Medallia to conduct field experiments inside your business to best practices in closed-loop feedback.
Over the past five years, BPF has become one of the industry’s leading forums for discussing customer-centricity. 2013 only cemented that reputation. Medallia has already begun planning for 2014—and we’re excited for what we have in store!

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