I take care of customers. Whether it’s your clients, my clients, or my clients clients, I want each of them to have a good experience every time they pick up the phone to call a company, get a marketing email open or visit a website.
It’s what gets me going every morning. For this reason, I was thrilled in 2019 when I had the opportunity to start HubSpot’s first Voice of the Customer team.
I’ve gathered a group of passionate people who are more dedicated than the rest to improving the customer experience. We met weekly, talked about our customers, forensically analyzed the feedback, and dug deep into the weeds to see where we could eliminate friction.
And then one day it hit us. The answers to most of our questions were not in cross-functional meetings, staff increases, or extended hours for support staff. The answers to our questions were in the operational area.
Operations teams are responsible for ensuring that everything works. If a marketer has trouble segmenting a contact list, they’ll get in touch with the business. Issues are flagged when a seller’s automated emails fail. If a service professional cannot access a customer’s communication history, the operations are run again to the rescue.
They are the people who direct any customer-centric team towards success. As such, they are the orchestrators of the customer experience. Still, most organizations view operations as a reactive function whose sole purpose is to frantically find solutions to problems that arise.
It is time for us as an industry to reimagine operations and transform these teams from reactive firefighters into proactive friction fighters. How can we do that? With Revenue Operations (RevOps).
I firmly believe that operations teams can only reach their potential if they work together as part of a unified RevOps strategy and are equipped with the right tools to implement this strategy.
Today, HubSpot is pioneering the RevOps revolution with the launch of Operations Hub – A new product specifically designed to empower operations teams to play an influential role in helping their companies delight their customers.
Because when a company scales, there is inevitably some friction loss, and the customer experience is often the first to suffer.
Three reasons why customer experience often suffers as a company scales
There are few companies that impress me so much that I am forced to tweet about my experience, tell my friends about it, or write a positive review. Customers like me these days expect their interactions with any business to be quick, convenient, and contextual.
As a company scales and grows exponentially, the challenge of keeping up with customer expectations grows exponentially. There are three main reasons for this:
1. Support more customers.
When a company is in startup mode, it can usually keep pace with the growth of its customer base by increasing investment in people. If customer growth exceeds the company’s ability to maintain high levels of customer experience, it will likely raise capital and hire new staff to support growing demand. That works … for a while.
If this company is ready to scale – growing its business faster than its investments – it must support a growing customer base without simply hiring more people and without sacrificing the quality of the customer experience. To do this, it has to reinvent its approach to delight customers or lose the trust of its user base – and its market share.
2. Other tools to manage.
As a company grows, it will inevitably face new challenges. In a world with over 8,000 martech solutions, there is no shortage of tools that can quickly solve a problem. As a result, it’s common for different teams to use different tools to solve different problems.
Over time, this approach results in a brutally bloated tech stack that takes so much time and energy to manage that there is little left to devote to customers. When tech stacks become unnecessarily complex, it becomes increasingly difficult for customer-centric teams to access reliable data, making it nearly impossible to deliver the kind of contextual experience customers expect.
3. Other points of contact to be maintained.
When a company comes out, it typically focuses on a small number of high impact channels. For example, the early social media marketing strategy may focus solely on Facebook and Twitter, and may only take customer inquiries over the phone.
However, as the company looks to scale, it will add new channels to its marketing mix and give its customers more opportunities to connect with them. Pretty soon, it will be interacting with its audience 24/7 not only on Facebook, Twitter and over the phone, but also on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and web chat.
To manage this multitude of touchpoints, this company needs a new strategy to ensure that the quality of the experience it offers its customers is maintained when there are few channels involved.
These three problems are a by-product of scaling up. They are challenges that a company would like to face … and that need to be solved. Most companies, however, are unable to. They, of course, resort to the methods that helped them reach this critical moment in their journey – many continue to desperately hire staff long after it is sustainable. Some are rushing to put more tools on their tech stacks without the infrastructure to make them all work together, and others just leave certain touchpoints unattended, leaving customers unimpressed.
Operations professionals are uniquely positioned to help a company solve such challenges. However, in the past, companies in our industry failed to see the potential of their operations teams. They got stuck in silos asking them to solve problems without the right tools or team structure to do it effectively.
Transition from function-out to customer-in
Operations professionals are rarely among the first employees in a company. They are usually only used when the systems start to creak and the friction between the teams becomes unbearable. A company’s marketing director may hire an operations professional to improve their lead scoring system, while the sales director may hire their own operations rep to work on reporting.
In the near future, several operating teams will be working in different departmental silos, often under different operating systems. Even if every operations team in that department does an exceptionally good job of fighting friction in their department, friction between departments can be widespread.
For example, the sales team may have difficulty accessing and understanding the marketing team’s data, which affects the sales team’s ability to personalize their reach based on a prospect’s recent engagement.
With no team responsible for overseeing this critical cross-departmental touchpoint, potential customers will continue to receive impersonal emails, the marketing team will continue to receive angry messages from their sales colleagues, and the sales team will continue to struggle to attract potential customers.
I call this a “function-out” perspective, where each customer-facing team focuses only on the portion of the customer experience they are directly responsible for and each operations professional is tasked with supporting their designated role.
What companies need instead is a “customer-in” perspective, where all teams work together and rely on a holistic view of the customer to deliver a unified experience. Operations professionals play a vital role in driving this change of perspective. But to be successful, they too must be unified.
How RevOps helps companies scale the customer experience
One of the most powerful things a company can do to scale its customer experience is unifying its functional operations professionals under a centralized revenue operations (RevOps) strategy.
When operational teams are unified, they serve the customer rather than the goals of their individual teams. They are working with the same data, which gives them a single source of truth about what is really going on with customers on a holistic level.
They work together on cross-functional processes that allow them to bridge the gaps between teams where friction is common. And perhaps most importantly, they work together to proactively identify issues before they have a chance to impact the customer experience.
Companies that do not yet have a large number of operations professionals in their ranks do not have to wait to take a “customer-in” perspective. If you haven’t already hired an Operations Specialist, consider bringing one in as a priority and giving them a meaningful say in how all customer-facing teams work together, not just one.
They should also examine how their internal teams are set up within their current operating model, assess whether the systems they are using are adding to silos, and establish a customer-centric culture.
After all, RevOps isn’t just the name of a team, it’s a philosophy by which a company is run – one that thrives when operations teams are equipped with the right tools.
Introduction to Operations Hub
Today, with the launch of Operations Hub, we are providing operations teams with a suite of tools to help them take their rightful place at the forefront of the customer experience and guide their businesses through the customer experience challenges that come with scaling.
Operations Hub enables teams to synchronize data bidirectionally and in real time across their business applications, making it easy for them to manage a tech stack, no matter how complex it is.
They can implement workflows that automatically keep their database clean and up-to-date so that they have a reliable view of the customer regardless of the number of touchpoints they manage. And they can design sophisticated custom automation actions to provide customers with a deeply personalized and contextual experience, no matter how large their customer base is.
Together, these tools enable operations teams to conduct bold, ambitious experiments, test big innovative ideas, and develop groundbreaking new strategies to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Our industry has limited the potential of operational professionals for too long. That changes today.
In 2019 I had the opportunity to start HubSpot’s “Voice of the Customer” team. That experience opened my eyes to the critical role operations teams need to play in scaling the customer experience.
In early 2021, I had the opportunity to set up another team at HubSpot: the Revenue Operations Team. With Operations Hub at our fingertips and united operations professionals, our mission is to empower operations teams not just within our company but across the industry.
When you work in companies like me, you have a right to feel excited. Where you used to be reactive, you can now be proactive. Where you were once isolated, you can now be in sync with your team members. And where you have thought about the customer-centric teams you are supporting, you can now be the orchestrator of your company’s customer experience strategy.