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One-on-One with Dan Lee
Senior Director of Product Solutions - Medallia Inc.

by Steve BogdonWednesday, December 15, 2010


Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Medallia's Dan Lee about their Text Analytics and Customer Management solutions

Dashboard Insight: Tell us a bit about Medallia

Dan Lee: Medallia really began when the co-founders, Amy Pressman and Borge Haldwere working with Fortune 500 companies as consultants for Boston Consulting Group. They saw a near-universal mandate by these big brand name companies who wanted to better understand current and prospective customers. At that time, there were no tools, infrastructure or systems that could deliver information on customer behaviors, their satisfaction levels, their feedback, their affinity for a brand -- essentially the complete customer experience. It was clear to them that there was a strong correlation between customer loyalty and a company's success, and they were confident they could make companies better by getting them this information, so they started Medallia in 2001.

Medallia has grown organically since then. The company’s client base is global, and we work with some of the best brands in hospitality, retail, financial services, and business-to-business services. Medallia clients use our suite of tools to aggregate customer feedback from a broad range of channels including web surveys, customer service calls, comment cards, and mail-in surveys. The technology literally sifts through all the data, aggregating, analyzing, sharing and reporting back key insights in real-time. Whether you’re at the corporate headquarters or a store manager on the front lines, real-time customer feedback can trigger a continuous cycle of improvement to customer service and business operations. Customer experience determines loyalty and loyalty ultimately dictates your bottom line.

DI: What kinds of customers use Medallia’s products?

DL: The flexibility of Medallia's customer experience platform makes integration so easy that any company needing to tap into customer feedback can do so. We have customers across many service-based industries including retail, hospitality, travel & leisure, financial services and more. Medallia benefits any company that needs to capture customer insight.

DI: Where does Medallia fall in the analytics spectrum?

DL: Analytics have always been one of Medallia's core functionalities. We built our own “hyper-cube” engine to process customer comments at super fast speeds. This engine categorizes millions of comments and survey data points for easy analysis. "Traditional" analytics measure quantitative data from warehouse inventory counts to sales figures - all number-based metrics. The beauty of Medallia is that our clients can also process unstructured text data for improved customer experience analytics and reporting.

DI: What's the difference between structured and unstructured data, and why is it important for companies to analyze unstructured data?

DL: When we say "unstructured data" we are referring to written comments, which cannot be processed in the same way that you process numerical data. Millions of customer comments are collected from online surveys and other sources and there is valuable information embedded in this data. The Medallia system quickly processes, analyzes, and categorizes the comments in real-time as surveys are being submitted. The completion of these tasks would otherwise require large teams of people to manually read and categorize. Behind the scenes, Medallia's Text Analytics Solution uses a natural language parser to break down sentences into grammatical parts of speech to figure out how words are related to each other. From there, the system classifies comments into topic areas that a company can analyze, yielding invaluable insights into the Voice-of-the-Customer.

It’s important for companies to tap into the Voice-of-the-Customer for many reasons including increasing brand loyalty and retention, improving products and services, streamlining operational processes, saving at-risk customers, and increasing sales and revenue.

DI: In mid-November you released Medallia Text Analytics Solution. Tell us how Medallia's Text Analytics Solution helps companies analyze unstructured data

DL: Medallia's Text Analytics Solution is designed to allow users to easily distribute text analysis results company-wide and is based on Medallia's proprietary Impact Index (MII). The MII is a statistical indicator calculated for every topic to measure the impact of that topic on a company’s overall satisfaction score. We use this as a way to prioritize which topics to look at first.  With the MII, users can quickly look at the most important topics and identify the key trouble spots in any part of a company's operations. Solving these issues will lead to the greatest positive impact on customer satisfaction and overall satisfaction scores.

Some conventional text analytics tools can be useful, but very difficult to use - particularly for non-researchers who lack specialized skills. Furthermore, stand-alone text analytics applications are not integrated with CEM systems, making it difficult to look at customer experience feedback holistically and share results throughout the organization. We set out to change that by making text analytics accessible to anyone who needs to know what customers are thinking.  With Medallia’s system, users at all levels can look at and analyze both the quantitative scores side-by-side with the comment data.


For more information visit: Medallia.com

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