Using Data and Automation to Enhance the Customer Experience with Bill Staikos

Good and bad examples of leadership are around us all the time...

But, how often do you step back and recognize them for being examples?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment of what's going on in our day-to-day lives that we simply do what we see...

In this episode of the B2B Leadership Podcast, best-selling author and leadership coach Nils Vinje sits down with Bill Staikos to find out his sources of inspiration for leadership and how he has evolved from his first leadership position to Senior Vice President of Industry Solutions at Medallia.

In this episode...

1:22 - Bill's background -
Bill explains his role at Medallia.
2:51 - Medallia's growth - What major changes have happened with Medallia over the years?
5:40 - First leadership position - Bill got his start almost 20 years ago.
7:58 - Exhibiting leadership - Where did Bill's leadership come from? What was his "why" at the time?
12:20 - Broader and more strategic leadership - Bill elaborates on lessons from his first leadership position.
18:36 - Building rapport and trust - How does Bill ensure that his team is successful?
20:22 - Employee ownership - What do employees need to be doing to pull their weight during a path to success?
26:01 - Understanding your organization's brand - How does Bill recommend going about this process?
28:51 - Third party feedback - Is there ever a situation where the individual gathering the feedback is not the one asking the interview questions?
30:20 - Bill's advice to himself - What advice would Bill give his younger self?

Connect with Bill Staikos:

Learn more about Medallia at

Learn more about your own leadership style at:


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Bill's background

Bills Staikos is the Senior Vice President of Industry Solutions at Medallia, a customer experience management platform helping businesses of all sizes analyze their customers' journey through surveys using captured signals.

Apart from his day job, Bill also hosts a weekly podcast called Be Customer Led.

Medallia's growth

What major changes have happened with Medallia over the years?

Since the technology has really evolved over the years, AI and machine learning have become central to the Customer and Employee Experience discipline.

Medallia started off in the hospitality space. They originally set out to help organizations understand what their customers were saying about them and how to act on that at scale to affect positive change for their customers day in and day out.

Now, it's more about using data and automation to enhance the customer experience. It's not just about how to aggregate all these signals and really make sense of all this data but also about how to start thinking from a journey-driven perspective.

First leadership position

How did Bill get into his very first leadership position?

Bill got his start almost 20 years ago. It started off with exhibiting leadership without having direct responsibility for a team and understanding the business at a broader strategic level. He was really understanding his role and how it creates value in the organization. He was also innovating inside and outside the box.

At the time, he was really advocating for himself to get into a leadership position. He was coaching and mentoring other team members. And that was very visible to other leaders in the organization which helped him get into his first leadership position.

If you want to be a team leader because it feels like it's the next progression in your career, you're not ready yet. You have to want to see other people succeed besides yourself first. You have to really love people and put them in front. If you can't do that, you can't be a team leader yet.

Exhibiting leadership

Where did Bill's leadership come from? What was his "why" at the time?

Bill's parents owned a diner. From an early age, he worked every job in their diner, from cleaning potatoes to being a server. He saw the power of leadership firsthand from his parents and the way that they were interacting with the employees of the diner.

His dad was a bit more strict and stern but his mom was very nurturing, kind, empathetic, and very focused on people. And she brought that into the relationships that people had with their employees. Bill saw at a young age the effect of that on their employees. He also saw the commitment of their employees waking up every morning at 5 am to come work at a diner where they're not making a whole lot of money but they felt valued.

And that really shaped Bill and his philosophy around leadership. He saw both sides of what leadership could be.

Over the last five years, leadership has now evolved from a know-it-all to a learn-it-all. As a leader, you don't have to have all the answers. There's incredible talent on your team. Together, you add value when you come together and solve big problems.

There are different approaches and ways of solving problems. When you stop having the answers. Your life will immediately get better as a leader.

Broader and more strategic leadership

Bill elaborates on the lessons he learned from his first leadership position, understanding the business at a broader and more strategic level.

Before joining Medallia, Bill was in financial services for over 25 years. He saw every part of financial services so he really knew how the money flowed and how that worked.

To let the other leaders know that he understands the business at a broader and more strategic level in that space, he showed them that he thinks globally about the bank, not just geographically. He was thinking about solutions in the context of the strategy of the bank at the time and really trying to connect the dots that way.

He was also thinking about people and how to leverage them or partner with someone who's stronger in one area that one was weaker in to be able to get the job done.

It's all about thinking bigger than yourself, your team, your organization, and sometimes even your company.

If you're in a leadership role, part of your job is to be identifying opportunities for your people. If you are not taking that perspective, and just focusing on your business line, you are doing a disservice to your team members. If your people don't have the motivation to go find new opportunities on their own, they are going to leave.

As a leader, it's important to have a broader, global perspective and engage other leaders across the business to be able to identify and create opportunities for your team.

Building rapport and trust

As a leader, your job is to ensure your team is successful because that will build a tremendous amount of rapport and trust. But how do you ensure that?

Get your people to focus on their careers and what they want to be doing. Have them create a shorter-term plan and give them the tools to think creatively about where they want to go as an individual, as an employee, or as part of this workforce, with the value that they have.

Allow them to be the CEO of their career without holding them back.

Employee ownership

As a leader, part of your responsibilities is to look for opportunities for your people. But what is the employee's responsibility in this scenario?

Bill looks at it as a partnership. It's equal parts, a yin, and yang. If it's not equal parts, it's not a recipe for long-term success. If you are looking for opportunities for your people, your people need to want it too.

There should be a driving force and that driving force has to come from them. When you're the CEO of your career, you're the only person who can make the call on what's right for you.

Your people have to be in the driver's seat. You're there to play that Yang to their Yin, but they have to drive.

It's also your role as a leader to sometimes push, open up the door, and let them see the other side. If you can open up that door for them, let them see all that they are capable of. Let them see all that they could achieve and nurture them down that path. When you do this, really amazing things can also happen.

If an individual is coming into this with some emotional baggage from how they've been treated in prior companies where this was not even entertained, they're not going to be in a position to take full control and just flip the switch.

So you should focus on the questions. Don't tell people what to do. Ask them questions about their strengths or where they lose track of their time.

Those are all clues. And if they don't have answers for them, you can facilitate them transitioning and taking that ownership regardless of what kind of environment they've experienced in the past and what kind of baggage they might be carrying.

Understanding your brand in the organization

How does Bill recommend going about understanding your brand in the organization?

Bill says people have a skill set and they should interview others to get qualitative feedback. So if you've never done that before, think about the questions that you're going to ask. There are three simple questions that can really be eye-opening for you and even switched careers.

One, what do you think my greatest strengths are?

Two, what areas to improve on?

Three, if you saw me in any job anywhere, in any company, what job would that be?

Pick people who know you and the work that you do, not your best friends in the company. Pick individuals who you know won't be afraid to be open and honest and thoughtful more than anything because they're the ones that are really thinking about what you're strong in and where you have opportunities for development.

Third party feedback

Is there ever a situation where the individual gathering the feedback is not the one asking the interview questions?

Bill recommends not considering having a neutral third party to facilitate this. It can be intimidating, depending on who you have on that list to ask for feedback but this shows your capability as a leader as well.

If you do this on your own, it shows that you're not afraid to have or listen to feedback. You're coachable. You're someone that's out there looking for ways to improve yourself, your career, and by default, the company.

At the end of the day, if you are looking to find new avenues to create value in your organization, you're asking these questions. You want to deliver value for the business that you work for. And that really speaks volumes about individuals.

Bill's advice to himself

What advice would Bill give his younger self?

He would tell his younger self to be in a leadership role because it is one of the most rewarding things that you will ever do, personally and professionally.

He would also tell himself to invest as much time in the development of the team as well as the individual. He'd recommend shaping the team in a way and bring talent in, not only diverse in terms of race, color, etc, but also in terms of diversity of thought and skills.

If you can do those things, and really truly love your team every day and look out for them, like they are your own family, you will be successful as an individual, and you will get joy from it. You will be successful as a leader. And those individuals will always remember that relationship and will always come back and want to work for you.

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