HR Tech Interview with Shannon Katschilo, General Manager at Medallia Canada

Hi Shannon, please tell us about your current role at Medallia and how you reached here?

I am the General Manager of Medallia Canada, and I’m responsible for our growth across the country. I am very fortunate to get to work with a phenomenal group of Marketing and Sales Directors, Professional Services teams and our amazing Solution Principals who partner to deliver world-class customer success for our clients coast to coast.

I’ve been at Medallia for over four and a half years now, with a background and passion for emerging tech. I’ve worn many hats in my time here, starting as a seller in the Canadian market, before moving to the US where we’re headquartered. As our footprint in Canada continued to grow, there was a clear need for us to develop a larger presence in Canada. We felt that Canadians would be best serviced by a local team, and that’s when I took over the General Manager role. It’s been a really phenomenal experience and incredibly impactful to see our team and client base grow at an exponential rate.

How has Medallia, as a large tech company, been able to inform the strategy of organizations in Canada?

We work with organizations of all sizes across various verticals to understand what both their employees and customers are saying. This gives us detailed insight that helps Canadian organizations prioritize their financial investments based on real data. Our relationships with our clients span across the business, from marketing, to human resources, operations and the executive level, so we’re able to speak to the impact innovation can have on all functions, from the bottom line to cultural shifts. The strategy itself is rooted in feedback directly from the people most invested in the organization: the employees and the customers. By crowdsourcing feedback from these groups, not only are you developing a strategy that is going to work directly from the source, you’re also engaging with your customers and employees by showcasing that you’re listening to them.

A recent client of ours, A&W, partnered with us to streamline guest feedback to unlock clear, actionable insights for their restaurant teams.

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How have organizational cultures evolved through the pandemic months? What kind of challenges did you meet in these months in growing your business?

It was really interesting to see how quickly organizations were able to innovate to meet the needs of both their employees and customers. From shifting day to day functions in an online environment, to adapting their entire marketing and product strategies to better serve Canadians amidst the challenges they faced. It’s shown me just how much our clients across the country truly care about their employees, and taking care of them virtually is a new realm for many of them. As a society, we’ve faced numerous changes at a moments notice over the last year, so the need to be assessing your employees is something that requires constant attention to review.

Companies are using technology to engage with their employees in real time, supporting them not only in the changes to their roles but providing additional support. We’re also seeing a shift from organizations to really ensure that they’re meeting their clients on their digital journey, uncover issues in real time and provide a seamless experience as customers go online as well.

For us, one of our biggest challenges was not being able to meet with our clients in person. What this has done is giving us the opportunity to innovate and leverage video technologies as much as possible. We’re intent on driving a thought leadership first approach to ensure we’re providing value to our clients, which we’ve been able to do virtually. Early last year we acquired a company called LivingLens whose technology allows us to capture video feedback for customers and employees, which is a real game changer at the best possible time. Our clients, and our staff, are thrilled to be able to still draw meaningful insights, emotion and connection with their employees and customers through the tool.

Your personal milestone for 2021 that you have targeted:

I want to continue to build upon the innovation of the last year and continue to grow our Canadian footprint while delivering phenomenal customer success. Canada is a country that prioritizes innovation, and we’re mirroring that within our own team to drive the most value for our clients. In my role and in my team, we’re striving to keep the mindset of challenging the status quo and think about how we can do things differently.

Could you tell us more about your remote organization communication technology stack? Which tools / platforms are your favorite or want to spend more time on:

The best part of our tech stack is our own Medallia Experience Cloud that allows us to hear from our clients all over the country directly about our level of service. I’m obsessed with it. We use these insights to refine our services, but to also celebrate the positive feedback we receive. Feedback is our North Star, we leverage it to recognize our team and we find it really engages our workforce. LivingLens, as I spoke about earlier, is key for me to connect with my teams, hear how they’re feeling and recognize their emotions through video and body language, creating a greater emotional connection as a leader. All of these are also integrated within Slack,  which is our main method of internal communication.

Why company culture is vital to ensuring the financial success of a company

When you have a really engaging company culture like ours, you’re going to be innovative and this translates into positive customer experiences with a direct impact on your bottom line. For us, this means creating a culture that listens before it leads. We drink our own champagne, so to speak, using our own tech to ensure our employees have a voice. They’re creative, innovative, and responsible for delivering our clients success, so they lead us forward. We spend considerable time investing in our culture, from who we hire, the vendors we use, and the programs we put in place internally.

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How to drive business growth and reduce employee turnover through real-time employee feedback and insights

It all comes back to culture. An organization with a great culture that listens to employee feedback and takes action on that feedback, is fulfilling for employees. Happy employees are invested employees, and invested employees put their energy back into the organization and drive success. Real-time employee feedback helps us keep a pulse on our employees’ engagement and being able to spot the smoke before the fire. Our employees often understand what needs to be done to deliver clients success, so not only are they providing us insights on how we can keep them engaged, but also the ability to lean into them as the voice of our customer base being on the frontlines.

Ways to cultivate a new wave of innovation through creating a strong sense of company culture

I think first and foremost we really encourage all of our employees regardless of title to act as leaders. When you develop a culture of leading without title, people really take ownership over their success. Driving a culture of innovation is foundational. It comes down to creating a safe environment where employees feel they can raise their hand and bring forth ideas that will have a positive impact on the business.

What would be the influence of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applications on culture / digital transformations associated with employee experience management:

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applications are essentially the power source behind our insights. As we collect massive datasets, we rely on these and other technologies to uncover trends on scale. Through trend identification, organizations can roll out best practices across their organization according to various subsets of the data. You can learn from one segment of the employee population and scale that across all, or get super detailed based on the demographics of an individual employee from a wider population.

Which other technologies influence this evolution:

There are a lot of great technologies out there, but what’s become incoming increasingly important is how well that tech stack works together. How well are they integrated to be able to deliver maximum efficiency across the organization? Will the technology operate in a silo? By looking at the adoption level of employees you can determine which technologies are having the greatest influence. Without high adoption, you may need to rethink your investment. So there’s a lot of great, innovative technology out there, but you have to dig into the data to really see what’s leading to greater employee and customer experiences.

Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to see here:

Sam Samad from Adobe would be really interesting.

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Medallia Experience Cloud, leads the market in the understanding and management of experience for customers, employees and citizens. Medallia captures experience signals created on daily journeys in person, on calls and digital channels, over video and social media and IoT interactions and applies proprietary AI technology to reveal personalized and predictive insights that can drive action with tremendous business results.

Shannon Katschilo is a General Manager at Medallia Canada