An honest and open discussion about how and why we evolved our approach to customer success – Interview with Eva Klein of Hubspot

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Today’s interview is with Eva Klein, VP of Customer Success at HubSpot, a technology company that builds sales and marketing software. Eva joins me today for a very open and honest conversation about HubSpot and customer success, their journey, how their approach to customer success has changed, what they have learned along the way and what we can learn from it.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – A tool to help us make better decisions and improve business, customer and employee outcomes – Interview with Matt Watkinson – and is number 257 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Eva:

  • Customer success involves ensuring that customers are successful throughout their lifecycle.
  • HubSpot’s approach changed when they realised that they didn’t actually have a customer success team but rather had a sales team by another name.
  • As a result, they took a step back and said that if they truly wanted to be customer centric then they needed to make sure their customers are seeing success and that their people are focused on delivering that and are not distracted by things like cross-selling, up-selling and renewals.
  • As a result, they have moved cross-selling and up-selling back into their sales team organization whilst renewals have become the responsibility of the customer success team.
  • Now, they focus their teams on customer health.
  • Cross-selling and up-selling opportunities are not going to happen unless the customer is healthy and seeing what they expected to see with the software and the tools that they bought.
  • To ensure alignment they did a lot of communication around their ‘Why’ and that the single most important thing that they all could rally around was customer success.
  • Getting their sales teams aligned has meant that they have gotten them involved at all stages of the customer relationship. That has meant that the sales team have had to keep up to date on product developments and how customers are faring. This has caused some trepidation among some in the sales team. Moreover, going back to their installed base of customers has exposed the real need for a partnership approach.
  • Every company likes to say that they are customer centric but when you peel back the layers you soon discover lots of things that are not very customer centric. This could could involve everything and everyone from finance to legal to product development.
  • HubSpot’s journey is evolutionary and they keep adding things to their mix as they evolve their thinking. For example, they didn’t have a customer marketing team til January of this year.
  • Another thing that they are learning is that their ‘human touch’ i.e. helping customers when they have them on the phone is very good. However, they are also realising that they need to develop their self-serve digital experience a lot more as there are some customers who just don’t want to speak to someone and want to self-serve.
  • They are identifying and prioritising areas to develop through their use of customer personas and journey mapping.
  • However, they admit that even though they are a company with nearly $300 million in annual revenues that they are still learning about the best way to utilise these tools and techniques.
  • As they prepare to scale from having tens of thousands of customers to millions of customers, they realise that they need to further evolve their approach to customer success and are moving to a team approach, where they will use AI, insights and programmes to drive learning, customer health and future success.
  • HubSpot may be only 18 months into their new approach to customer success but they are already seeing a double digit improvement in customer health as a result of the changes that they are implementing.
  • Moreover, their shift from a focus on revenue retention to customer retention and getting their teams focused on customer success as opposed to cross-sell and up-sell renumeration has seen them see a two point lift in customer dollars. That’s having a significant impact as customer retention is the biggest component of revenue retention.
  • Their move has also exposed what they call ‘sharp edges’, which are elements in the overall customer experience that didn’t align with what they were aspiring to.
  • Dharmesh, HubSpot’s co-founder has a great saying which is:

“we want to make it emotionally difficult for our customers to leave, but procedurally easy”.

  • Eva’s starter advice for listeners and readers who want to put themselves on the right path to customer success:
    1. Start with getting your CRM system in order – It is essential that you have to have a way to track customer information in a central way.
    2. Realise that customer success is a team sport – Think about your retention targets, make sure that every team has skin in the game and build bridges between teams to facilitate a better customer experience.
    3. Really challenge yourself to introduce metrics that are totally focused on the long term success of your customers.
  • Check out HubSpot’s software platform which includes a CRM system, marketing hub and sales hub.

About Eva

Eva KleinEva Klein is VP of Customer Success at HubSpot, a technology company that builds sales and marketing software. In her current role, Eva brings her 15+ years of experience in the quantifiable world of business development, to the softer art of customer success. Prior to joining HubSpot, Eva held senior positions at Constant Contact, Invoca, Enservio and FatWallet where she delivered substantial customer and revenue growth. Eva has also served on advisory boards for Google, Rakuten Marketing, Commission Junction, and CouponCabin.

Check out HubSpot’s software platform which includes a CRM system, marketing hub and sales hub, say Hi to HubSpot on Twitter @HubSpot and connect with Eva on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Michelle for the image.

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