Introducing Talkdesk’s New Chief Customer Officer
As a company that provides tools and technologies to help organizations provide customer service and engagement, it’s only fitting that Talkdesk also strives to a new level of organization commitment to ensure customer service excellence. As part of the company’s recent additions to its executive team, Talkdesk announced the appointment of Chad Gaydos as its first chief customer officer (CCO). The addition of Gaydos as CCO highlights Talkdesk’s focus on customer service excellence as the company continues to grow and expand.
I had an opportunity to speak with Chad about why his background makes him the right person for this new position, and what he hopes to accomplish in this role.
Blair: As the first CCO at Talkdesk, tell me about your background and experience and how it prepared you for this new role.
Chad: I spent the last 22 years in software and technology-related related roles that support end customers. Starting my career at SAP as a solution engineer, I worked with customers to find the technology applications to help them attain the right business benefits to meet their goals. Working directly with customers on building use cases and roadmaps, I gained a great deal of knowledge around product and process. I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Regulated Industries, a large market unit in the US that includes federal, state, and local government, as well as higher education, aerospace and defense, healthcare, and utilities. Working in the different businesses in different diverse industries afforded me great insight into customer experiences and what drives their satisfaction. I ultimately was responsible for customer success, growth, and the profitability of the business, which included strategy and strategy deployment, as well as go to market.
Several years ago I was recruited to SaaS company Skillsoft, the world’s largest corporate learning company, to help with the company’s transformation. As Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and COO of the overall organization, I led all go-to-market activities and was responsible for customer success.
After 3.5 years at Skillsoft, it was time for a new chapter for me, and I started to think about what I wanted to do next, and what type of company I wanted to work for in order to best use my skills. I was looking to work in a disruptive new environment and was excited when the opportunity at Talkdesk was presented to me. I was fascinated with Talkdesk’s position in the market and it was an easy decision based on what I learned about the company and what I know I can add.
Blair: What’s the key role of a chief customer officer in your view, and why do you think there is a growing interest in companies hiring chief customer officers?
Chad: The role of CCO has taken off in the last several years, as it focuses on the overall customer experience and customer happiness. In a SaaS environment, the job of CCO involves having a maniacal focus on the customer journey and developing a corporate culture that is customer centric. My role is to execute on a customer-centric plan that ensures maximum growth for the future and long-term customer loyalty.
My main mission is the thoughtful focus on existing customers, ensuring retention and growth of customers and logos. I want Talkdesk customers to know that they have an advocate and someone who’s here for them, and that customer satisfaction is job one.
Blair: What parts of the organization are you responsible for?
Chad: As CCO, I am responsible for our customer base and their success. In terms of the organization, this includes the customer success and delivery organizations, technical support (including professional services), as well as solution engineering on the presales side.
Blair: What made you join Talkdesk at this point in your career?
Chad: I was blown away by the company’s story and what Tiago (Paiva, Talkdesk chief executive officer) had done in creating a nimble and relevant platform. I was impressed with the story, technology, and results, as well as what they’ve achieved, including being named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and earning the highest customer satisfaction score in G2 Grid. I also like working with companies that disrupt the market, which Talkdesk is clearly doing.
As to why now, Talkdesk has been growing at hypergrowth rates and needs to deal with scale at the enterprise level. I’ve worked to acquire a certain set of skills that can be put to work quickly at Talkdesk, and my knowledge around product, customer service, and excellence in supporting and servicing customers can help the company continue its fast growth rate.
Blair: What does customer service excellence look like to you?
Chad: It’s a combination of people and technology that drive value - and excellence comes with exceeding customer expectations. Companies strive to understand and properly set customer expectations. Thoughtful interaction and ideation with customers is key to understanding what tools and platforms they need so we can be proactive and prescriptive. Customer service excellence means consistently exceeding customer expectations so that they get the answers and support they need and the value they signed up for.
Blair: What are your short- term and long-term goals at Talkdesk both tactically and strategically?
Chad: As CCO, my primary goals is to retain customers, grow the organization, and accelerate hypergrowth in the future.
For the short term, I believe in understanding what needs to be improved and this involves meeting with and listening to customers. I plan to be on a “listening tour” for three months and meet with many customers in order to solicit customer feedback. I need to deeply understand both the processes and product needs, and service requirements in order to optimize their experience. I also want to create a framework to bring together elements that drive success and optimize how we engage, touch and communicate with customers.
For the longer term, I want to get even closer to customers so we can be a predictive partner that drives customer satisfaction records. We’re innovating so fast as an organization, it will be an amazing several years. My goal is to leverage customer feedback and put solutions in front of customers that will drive usage of our products. We have to be adaptive and agile and need new methods to help us grow and drive usage of our products.
Blair: As a follow up to that, how will you define success? Do you have specific metrics or objectives?
Chad: Success is measured in terms of logos and customers that have been retained, as well as the overall growth in the customer base, annual recurring revenue, and overall customer satisfaction scores. If customers believe they’re getting the right type of customer service and value, they’ll expand their usage of our products and services.
Blair: What are some of the things that excite you the most about building and growing a CCO organization at Talkdesk?
Chad: It comes down to the people. It’s interesting to get into an organization like this and see how everyone is aligned to help and serve customers and grow the business. People come to work and have a passion and purpose to do their jobs, and when they’re inspired, they do it even better. It’s important to me to create an environment where everyone is passionate about serving customers. When employees are focused on serving customers, customers feel that they really matter. I love the quote from Maya Angelou, “People won’t remember what you said or did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” To me, this is key.
Blair: What do you think is most important in supporting customers?
Chad: In my experience, customer advocacy is key. I believe in the importance of advisory boards to listen to customers’ needs. Based on their input and feedback, customers have a direct impact on driving the innovation and product direction of a company, which is a win win.
Blair: Any final comments?
Chad: My goal is to get the message to our customer base that we have created this new role, and this role is all about customers. Both the board and the Talkdesk CEO want the company to focus on customer centricity, and believe it’s important to create this role. I want our customers to know that I’m their advocate.