I care about customers. Whether they're your customers, my customers, or my customers' customers, I want every one of them to have a good experience every time they pick up the phone to call a business, open a marketing email, or visit a website.
It's what gets me going every morning. That's why I was thrilled in 2019 when I had the opportunity to launch HubSpot's first-ever 'voice of the customer' team.
I assembled a group of passionate people, each more dedicated than the last to improving customer experience. We met weekly, talked about our customers, forensically analyzed feedback, and dug deep into the weeds to see where we could root out friction.
And then one day it hit us. The answers to most of our questions didn't lie in more cross-functional meetings, increased headcount, or longer hours for support staff. The answers to our questions lay in operations.
Operations teams carry the responsibility for making sure that, well, everything works. If a marketer is having trouble segmenting a contact list, they reach out to operations. If a salesperson's automated emails are misfiring, operations gets tagged in. If a service professional can't access a customer's communication history, it's operations to the rescue again.
They're the people who set every customer-facing team up for success. As such, they are the orchestrators of the customer experience. And yet, most companies view operations as a reactive function whose sole purpose is to frantically find fixes to issues as they arise.
It's time for us as an industry to re-imagine operations and transform these teams from reactive fire-fighters into proactive friction-fighters. How can we do this? With revenue operations (RevOps).
It's my firm belief that operations teams can only fulfill their potential when they work together under a unified RevOps strategy and are equipped with the right tools to execute that strategy.
Today, HubSpot is spearheading the onrushing 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 customers at scale.
Because when a company scales, friction inevitably emerges, and customer experience is often the first thing to suffer.
Three Reasons Why Customer Experience Often Suffers When a Company Scales
There are few companies out there that impress me so much, I feel compelled to tweet about my experience, tell my friends, or write a positive review. These days, customers like me expect their interactions with every company to be quick, convenient, and contextual.
When a company scales and begins to achieve exponential growth, the challenge of keeping pace with customer expectations grows exponentially, too. There are three key reasons why:
1. More customers to support.
When a company is in startup mode, it will usually keep up with the growth of its customer base by increasing investments in staff. When customer growth starts to outpace the company's ability to maintain a high standard of customer experience, it will likely raise capital and hire new employees to support the expanding demand. This works … for a while.
When that company is ready to scale – that is, to grow its business faster than its investments – it needs to support a growing customer base without simply hiring more employees and without letting the quality of the customer experience drop. To do this, it has to reinvent its approach to delighting customers or risk losing the trust of its user base – and its market share.
2. More tools to manage.
As a company grows, it will inevitably encounter new challenges. And in a world of over 8,000 martech solutions, there is no shortage of tools out there that could be brought in to help solve a problem quickly. So, it's common for different teams to adopt different tools to help them solve different problems.
Over time, this approach results in a brutally bloated tech stack that takes so much time and energy to manage, there's little left to dedicate to customers. What's more, when tech stacks are unnecessarily complex, it becomes increasingly difficult for customer-facing teams to access reliable data, making it nearly impossible to deliver the type of contextual experience customers expect.
3. More touchpoints to maintain.
When a company is getting off the ground, it will tend to focus on a small number of high-impact channels. For example, its early social media marketing strategy may focus exclusively on, say, Facebook and Twitter, and it might only take customer queries over the phone.
As that company seeks to scale, however, it will add new channels to its marketing mix and offer its customers more ways to get in touch. Pretty soon, it'll find itself interacting with its audience not only on Facebook, Twitter, and over the phone, but on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and via 24/7 web chat, too.
To manage this multitude of touchpoints, that company will need a new strategy to ensure it maintains the quality of experience it offered to customers when there were only a few channels in play.
These three issues are a by-product of scale. They are challenges a company wants to have … and solve. Yet, most businesses fall short. They naturally fall back on the methods that have helped them reach this critical moment in their journey — many continue to frantically hire staff long after it's sustainable to do so, some rush to tack more tools onto their tech stacks without the infrastructure to make them all work together, and others simply leave certain touchpoints unattended, leaving customers unimpressed.
Operations professionals are uniquely positioned to help a company solve challenges like these. But historically, companies across our industry have failed to recognize the potential of their operations teams, leaving them stuck in silos and asking them to solve issues without the right tools or team structure to do so effectively.
Moving From Function-Out To Customer-In
Operations professionals are rarely among the first hires a company makes. They tend to be brought in only when systems start to creak and the friction between teams becomes unbearable. A company's marketing leader might hire an operations professional onto their team to help improve its lead scoring system, while its head of sales brings in their own operations hire to work on reporting.
Before long, there are multiple operations teams working in different departmental silos, often out of different operating systems. In this setup, even if each operations team does an exceptionally good job at fighting friction within their department, friction can still be rife between their departments.
For example, the sales team might be having difficulty accessing and understanding the marketing team's data, hurting their ability to personalize their outreach based on a prospect's recent engagement.
With no team accountable for overseeing this critical cross-departmental touchpoint, prospects will continue to receive impersonal emails, the marketing team will continue to receive exasperated messages from their sales colleagues, and the sales team will continue to struggle to win over prospects.
I call this a "function-out" perspective, where each customer-facing team is only focused on the portion of the customer experience they're directly responsible for, and each operations professional is tasked with supporting their designated function.
What companies need instead is a “customer-in” perspective, where all teams work in unison, informed by a holistic view of the customer, to deliver a unified experience. Operations professionals have a critical role to play in driving this shift in perspective. But to be successful, they too need to be unified.
How RevOps Helps Companies Scale Customer Experience
One of the most powerful things a company can do to scale its customer experience is to unify its functional operations professionals under one centralized revenue operations (RevOps) strategy.
When operations teams are unified, they are not serving their separate teams' goals, they are serving the customer. They work with the same data, which gives them a single source of truth on what's really going on with customers at a holistic level.
They collaborate on cross-functional processes that allow them to bridge the gaps between teams where friction frequently festers. And perhaps most importantly, they work together to proactively identify issues before they have a chance to hurt the customer experience.
Companies that don't yet have a large number of operations professionals among their ranks don't have to wait until they do to start adopting a "customer-in" perspective. If they haven't hired an operations professional yet, they should 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 the ways their internal teams are set up within their current operating model, assess whether the systems they're using are contributing to silos, and begin to instill a culture of alignment around the customer.
After all, RevOps is not just the name of a team, it's a philosophy by which to run a company — one that thrives when operations teams are equipped with the right tools.
Introducing Operations Hub
Today with the launch of Operations Hub, we are giving operations teams a suite of tools that allow them to assume their rightful place at the forefront of the customer experience and empower them to guide their companies through the customer experience challenges that come with scale.
With Operations Hub, teams can sync data across their business apps bi-directionally and in real-time, allowing them to manage a tech stack with ease, no matter how complex it is.
They can roll out workflows that automatically keep their database clean and up to date, helping them to maintain a reliable view of the customer, no matter how many touchpoints they manage. And they can design sophisticated custom automation actions to deliver a deeply personalized and contextual experience to customers, no matter how large their customer base grows.
Together, these tools free up operations teams to conduct bold ambitious experiments, test big innovative ideas, and launch ground-breaking new strategies, all in the name of delivering an exceptional customer experience. For too long our industry has put a limit on the potential of operations professionals. That changes today.
Back in 2019, I had the opportunity to launch HubSpot's 'voice of the customer' team. That experience opened my eyes to the vital role operations teams have to play in scaling customer experience.
At the beginning of 2021, I had the opportunity to launch another team at HubSpot: the revenue operations team. With Operations Hub at our fingertips and our operations professionals unified as one, we are on a mission to elevate the role of operations teams not only at our company, but across the entire industry.
If you work in operations like me, you have a right to feel excited. Where you were once reactive, you can now be proactive. Where you were once siloed, you can now be in sync with your operations teammates. And where you were once an afterthought of the customer-facing teams you support, you can now be the orchestrator of your company's customer experience strategy.