Hello, hello and welcome to another episode of the SaaS Breakthrough podcast. I'm here with Rachel Yen from HubSpot. How are you doing today, Rachel?
I'm doing great how about yourself?
Doing awesome. Really excited. We're kind of getting ready for the holiday season. All of us kind of wrapping up, but glad to have this amazing conversation with you. We have a ton to talk about. A really exciting and new initiative, well not new initiative I should say for you guys, but an exciting initiative that you're working on, over at HubSpot. And for our listeners who don't know HubSpot yet, why don't we quickly go through what you guys are doing over there? What is the company doing? When was it founded? Who are the customers and what are you guys doing uniquely in the marketplace?
Yeah, so HubSpot was founded by Brian and Dharmesh about 13 years ago with the goal in mind to innovate and disrupt traditional outbound marketing because the inbound methodology that they created is really better for brands and consumers. Overall the buy persona is someone named Marketing Mary. That's how we started someone looking to build their business based on content instead of outbound methodology method. And this obviously has changed as we've moved into other hubs, but that's really how HubSpot got started.
That's fantastic. And are you guys doing something absolutely unique with that CRM structure? What does that actually look like? Is, is the product uniquely situated?
So HubSpot is really being built with the consumer in mind. Like we have our marketing hub, which was like our number one and now we do have that sales hub as well, which have our CRM. And then what makes us really unique is also we have our service hub, so the CRM, really integrates with our service side as well. So you have your entire team working out of HubSpot and we're just building on that and making sure that everyone in the marketing field has like a great experience.
That's fantastic. And you said like initially that product market fit was really Marketing Mary, was that the name of the ICP?
So really marketers being the core ICP and that's obviously expanded as you mentioned, your product offering expands over time and HubSpot's really well known CRM product. I'm sure most of our listeners already know what'd you guys are doing, but I just like to have that conversation, especially for what we're going to be talking about today. Well when did you actually join the HubSpot team?
Yeah, so I actually joined in July of 2015. I was fresh out of college and I was just really, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to work for a company that like I could see myself really working towards their visions and their goals and I really believed in what they were doing. And so when I started at HubSpot, I was actually the front desk receptionist. I just wanted to get a foot in the door and it gave me a really great scope of HubSpot as a whole. And that led me to what I'm doing now.
That is so cool that you kind of moved up from there. What really excited you most when you learned about HubSpot and you're kind of coming out of college, maybe didn't even know about SaaS or software yet? What got you most excited about the company?
Yeah, honestly, I had very little idea. I was an advertising major, so like I knew the industry a little and I had a business minor as well, so I knew how businesses worked, but I was very unfamiliar with software as a service. And HubSpot really jumped out at me less though because of their product, because obviously I was unfamiliar, but more so because they really push being transparent. We wanted to change the industry as a whole. Being in advertising, I've learned all about like direct mail and billboards and things like that. And hearing about a company that's like thinking about turning that upside down was really fascinating cause I was like, advertising is advertising and has been forever. And then on top of that, having a company that's doing that while also being so vocal about like, we really value our employees and we trust that they're get what they need to do done well. Like giving them unlimited vacation and like all these perks that I'd never really come across before. And so I thought HubSpot was a great combination of having the values that I look for, but also having the perks that, really pulled people as well.
Yeah it was really well said. I mean you just highlighted, I think a lot of the amazing values and the transparency and just what HubSpot has done for, I think the industry as a whole. I mean you guys as a company have just really pushed forward the SaaS community with those values, with those expectations. So how cool to see that perspective, you know, coming fresh out of college and seeing that and kind of getting embedded in there. And I know as you grew in your position and learn more about a HubSpot, you learn more about an initiative going on there, a gift giving initiative. Talk to us about that. How did you get started there and what's that initiative all about?
Yeah, so like I said I started at the front desk and they really encourage you to talk to people at HubSpot that you think like their roles would be interesting to move forward in. There was a woman who had this role before me and the Customer Delight Program really started as we would have customers come learn HubSpot software in person and a woman would really make their experience like extraordinary. And we then realize like we shouldn't be just delighting customers that come in person. We should be delighting customers across the board. And that's how the customer delight program was born. We started off with just like a swag closet and like every now and then you would send little customized like type gifts. But she told me what she did at HubSpot and I was like, that's a job. And she's like, Oh, by the way, like I'm moving to Denver in November, like I'll put your name in. Amazing. And that's how I got started with the program and we've been really pushing Customer Delight ever since.
So Customer Delight, when did you actually get in there to start? Were you starting with her before that? Or did you kind of take over when she left?
Yes, so I took over, I officially started March, 2016 and she had like a process in place already and I kind of just tweaked it and we went from having like about 200 requests a year to now we have easily over 1500 for 2019 alone. And this December we've had like 600 requests come in for end of year. So I really just took it and just run with it.
That's awesome. It's such a cool idea. It's really just the persona of like customer success, like really understanding that and caring for the, the experiences that your customers have. So I get that it started in office and it was a really great initiative, but as you guys began to expand it and run with it a little bit more, like you said, did you find that you had like just a lot of freedom and backing from leadership because it was so built into the value system of HubSpot already, where you guys are already defining customer success in this way? I mean you guys have been leading that in so many ways, or did you guys have to kind of fight for this fight for budget, explain how to do it? Or was it kind of, again, just something that felt natural in the organization?
Yeah, I definitely say that it felt very natural. Like, like I said, with our culture, we value our employees so much and understand building a transparent culture is so important to help humanize the leaders that might seem like so far above you to ensure like everyone is on board moving towards like the company's mission. In order to practice what we preach, we need to value our customers in the same way. We needto see them not only as just like another rep on the phone but also a human who is going to be as clear and transparent as possible to help them move towards their ultimate goals. And a great way to humanize that is with moments of delight.
I love that. That's so fantastic. And again, it feels like it's just something embedded in your culture, in the way you guys think about business and you're really trying to humanize that approach, which I absolutely love. So I guess, you know, give us some examples of, you know, customer delight, how you're doing gift-giving, when the right times to do this. How do you place us in a campaign is a really good for onboarding? Is it really good for like a red flag moment? When do you guys find the best times in these campaigns to work?
Yeah, I mean time of year, like we're at the very end of the year so a great example of this is end of year, congratulations you made it happy holidays, that type of thing. It's also a really great time to look back and see how far we'd come together as a team. But to be fair with the holiday season, like a materialistic side really comes out as well. And so with HubSpot, a great example of like us in our gift-giving initiatives would be instead of sending typical holiday baskets, we chose to partner with a company called Pack With Purpose for our holiday gift. We've done this for a few years now and it's so easy. They, you need to send them a sheet with the addresses and the customers to be on it. We went on there and say these curated gift boxes that have delicious treats on them, but also give back to the community. Like, for example, in our boxes, we sent these chocolate covered espresso beans and it really helps support the Women's Bean Project, which employees unemployed women. And so by sending these gifts instead of like the standard things you would see the customer is not only being celebrated, but they're also seeing that HubSpot is valuing giving back in this time of year and it's like a home run for us.
I love that. I think you guys definitely again, are embodying your values just in the gifts that you're giving. And you're also like marketing basically to marketers and you're doing customer success to marketers as you mentioned before from your ICP. So a lot of times to do that well you have to really break through the mold and try to find something unique and different that stands out. Right. That's strong differentiation. So you're definitely doing a good job of there. Are there other points in the campaign besides the end of the year that you think are really helpful for marketers to know if they were to take this on?
Yeah, definitely. I would say other, we tend to not like bulk ship unless it is this type end of year. There are hardly any other occasions that we would send like, I guess at the same time because this program is so heavily customized. I would say that really just looking for moments of delight but also those moments of like maybe not so much so light. Like obviously if a customer their blog went viral or they are hitting their five years with HubSpot or something like that, like that is a very easy way to send them something to appreciate them and also humanize yourself. But then also like, you know, they, they ran into a bug and HubSpot is working really hard to solve that. We also see that as a great opportunity to maybe send them a gift card to a local place and be like, Hey, like we're sorry for the recent struggles we're having like, please enjoy some time away from the office on HubSpot.
I love that. Yeah. Like you said before, humanizing this approach, it's no longer just a B2B, like we're just two faces companies with people working in them where people working together and we want to celebrate you and your wins and kind of really being a part of their business. That's really awesome. I love that. And how do you guys empower your customer success managers to know those moments? Like is it just free for them to choose when to give a gift? Like Oh, all of a sudden they want to celebrate this. Do you guys have triggers built out? Or is it just kind of an open ended thing that everyone gets to just use their best judgment on?
Yeah, I mean, our, one of our mantras is use good judgment. We say GJ all the time and so we kind of use that same idealisms with those programs as well. It's purely up to the customer success manager to request when they want to. There are no real strict guidelines around it. Obviously we have some like price limitations, so we're not seeing bribing our customers or anything like that on the legal side. But other than that, it's just the customer success manager is working with a customer. They see a great like moment of delight or like maybe just like a little pick me up type thing. They just fill out a form and I send that out right away.
Are you guys tracking how many customer success managers are utilizing this? Is there a number that they're trying to hit or again, it's just the GJ, which by the way, I love that mantra.
Yeah. So in my form, I keep track of like the customer success manager, the customers' HubSpot ID, any other additional information I might need. But it's surely, again, using the good judgment, like at the end of the year, I always do like wrap-ups and I also like kind of push like, Oh, here was a great example type thing to help get a participation out. But, the CSM who gets, who submits the most will get like a shout out on my Wiki. But other than that, it's purely just use good judgment. There's no limit, there's no requirements. Just think about your customers on that human level all the time. And that's kind of triggers the, Oh, I should like they just bought a house, I should send them something for that type of thing.
Yeah. And I kinda like the idea that it's, there's no requirements because it makes it special when you do it. And I also liked the fact that you have a Wiki or this internal communication where people can celebrate the CSMs who actually are utilizing it in a good way or celebrating people that are like, you know, they have customers that are working with them that are so, are doing so well maybe you're working so well within HubSpot. So that's really exciting. And I like that kind of feedback loop that you build inside the company with it. Now let's get into some details. You know, maybe walk us through how you go through the process of, you know, getting the request in. How are you getting, you know, maybe their, their information, what personalized gift to get them. How do you find a personalized gift that's not too like, too personalized, too creepy? How are you going to address it as like, you know, the process for people if they're actually gonna go through this and build this out in a company?
Yeah, yeah. So, like I said, I have a form that the CSM fill out and then I get a trigger notification when someone fills out that form. Luckily not to plug own software, but HubSpot service hub, makes it so easy for me to find all that customer information when a customer is even in the prospect stage. Like we build out this internal hub ID that have, and so everything that I would need the point of contact, the address, everything like that is just in that section of the app for me. And so the person puts in either that link or they give me the hub ID and so I can go in and find that. It also gives me a lot of great context too because I can sometimes see like emails back and forth so I can understand the situation better.
And then from there, I see what it really is situational. You're like customizing that way. I do really enjoy like sending personalized bottles of wine for celebratory occasions or like, like I mentioned before, moving house. And because those, even if someone doesn't drink, like it is a really great token. Because we have like beautiful labels made for like each individual occasion and like it shows that we took the time to like think about what they were celebrating and bring it to life. And so they can always look at that and be like, HubSpot (inaudible) me. And also this great moment in my career or personal life. And then for like the tougher situations, I never want to like really dive too deep into social media or anything like that. In this day and age, it's very easy to learn a lot of information about someone, but like we want to keep it so we want to humanize ourselves and make it really easy to talk to us and like get to know us.
We don't want to cross that line into being creepy. We want to keep it a professional relationship unless the customer wants like I know a lot of CSM know like more personal stuff about their customers, but that's because it's information the customer has voluntarily given to us. And so we really, I just want to look at like surface level thing. Everyone loves to just take a moment away from the office. So like I said before, sending gift cards to like highly rated restaurants nearby is one of my gotos because it's just so easy and they really enjoy it. And then if I run into an issue where I can't find a restaurant that I want to send to or, not really feeling like going that route. Then like impactful gifts. Like, like I mentioned before with Pack With Purpose. It's just a gift that show HubSpot values while also giving them a treat to like brighten their day type of thing.
Are you including HubSpot branding in this package or do you try to keep it brand agnostic and really just be about a gift for them or celebrate their brand? Are you putting any of that in there?
Yeah. So for the personalized wine bottles we typically do their branding and our branding. So then they know it's like, it's not just about us, it's about both of us and our partnership. The Packed With Purpose, we typically, they can do customized branding on their baskets. So we'll just do, HubSpot branding because once they open it, so they will be able to enjoy all the (inaudible) inside and don't really have to look at the box anymore. But typically if possible we like to be both brandings. If not we like to do ours and then obviously for the gift cards we'll just email it directly to them.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Do you do, like you said, personalized cards, do you put photos of like customer success managers or anything like that to also humanize it a little bit more?
Yeah. Like for, some tests we never do like photos, but for some customer success manager, if they're looking to have a moment of delight, like reengage a customer or something like that, like they'll put their phone number or they'll put their email and be like, feel free to reach out at any time. Just to make it that much easier for the customer to be in contact with the customer success manager.
Got it. Yeah. I'm just trying to get all the details and really thinking through this. We have a small gift giving campaign, not anywhere near as awesome as this, but we send a card and we put all of our faces on this card just so again, like you said, humanizing that relationship a little bit more. Obviously it'd be hard for you guys. You probably have way more people than us to put on a card. That's really amazing. We've been tracking our initiative really around, reviews and just feedback into the company. Like are people just responding after a message? What kind of results have you guys seen and what are you actually trying to track when you're doing something like this?
Yeah, so, we would say probably like the best result we can hope for is someone sharing this moment of delight on social media. They have a network that's completely different than our network. So by sharing like HubSpot thought of me in this moment, I'm so delighted. They really become those evangelists that we look for at the end of the buyer's journey. And obviously that's like top results. We also get a lot of email feedback, which then I can share with the customer success reps and be like, well, look at this look what so-and-so got back? Like you could be doing this too type of thing. But ultimately like we don't really have any other goals other than just delighting the customer. Like if they don't share it on social media, like we're still gonna keep doing it. if they don't even respond to us, we're still going to keep doing it.
Because the whole point of this is to really just humanize ourselves and not necessarily like build into metrics. Like obviously this is a marketing campaign and we do want to humanize the person that they're talking to weekly, monthly, quarterly and get them on that comfort level of talking with them like they would their desk mate of their actual office. We don't have any real KPIs around exactly what their health score should be or like if they're gonna (inaudible) next month, that type of thing. The only KPIs we have are just getting the program participation up year after year.
Got it. Got it, it's more of an internal goal and I do like the idea that you're looking at that social media share. Do you guys track that? Is that in a spreadsheet to see, did they share this on social media? Yes. No. Like are you actively trying to go through and see who shared it or is it just like if they did share it, that's just a moment of celebration that you guys had a really good job of the campaign?
Yeah, it's definitely more of if they said it's a moment of celebration. However, we are building out our customer marketing team and they are really working on, I know like future goals is like connecting with those people that share in social media to then like get them, maybe to do some customer stories or like a testimonial or something like that. So they're really building out how we can measure our social reach. Whereas like me personally, it's just like this is awesome. Like it's just keeping the program in good graces for not only people outside of HubSpot but HubSpotters themselves and I, that's like a win for me where it's like our marketing team is definitely getting more into the nitty gritty of like, here we go, here's our reach, that type of thing.
Yeah. No, I'd be very interested to see like over time as the marketing team builds out those KPIs, like how are the results really impact things like LTV and churn reduction over time. Just customer happiness has an increase ability to get those customer stories, which is fantastic. At the end of the day though, just building relationships is always a win no matter what. And like you said, it's really hard to track some of these things but it's just one small piece of a very large puzzle and I think you guys are doing an amazing job. How do you think you guys are utilizing this to continue to create brand affinity? Do you think that this campaign itself is also building off of your own identity and kind of creates a unique HubSpot feel or brand when they get these gifts?
Yeah, definitely. I think this kind of breaks away from traditional marketing because like as we move forward in this very tech heavy world, it's very easy to find new ways to automate things. Whereas this is like as heavily customized as you can really make it. Like this is like one off situations. And so I think it's really great moment. It's really easy for moments of delight to turn stale and disingenuous if they are being automated. And so the customer delight program, since we're customizing each moment of delight, I think the customer can really build brand affinity with us because we're giving them really little pieces of our time and like everyone knows this industry is moving so fast and like constantly we always have things to do on our to do. And so I think customers really value that. We took some time to just like think about them, like we're thinking about them outside of the realm of here's another hub ID in our funnel. And I think customers are starting to expect businesses, they're loyal to to reflect their values too. Like it's not necessarily just HubSpot's values anymore. And so finding new ways to merge marketing efforts and make social impact is definitely makes this a great opportunity to build that brand affinity but also like it's a very unique kind of initiative.
That was really well said. I think you're absolutely right. It's the farther we go with technology and automation and you know, companies are building pipelines. The more we look at leads and prospects as numbers, the more we move away from that humanizing feel. And it's really important to kind of regain that. I think you guys have always been that leader in trying to create that human feeling, especially, you know, marketing to marketers and stuff like that. So you're doing an amazing job. You know, looking back over the past, I guess now you've been in there, what, over three years, four years now. Any major wins, takeaways, things that you're really excited about that went really well that you want to talk about?
Yeah. So I'd say I honestly think that one of the biggest wins was finding, it's just finding those, vendors that we can use that not only reflect HubSpot values, but like really paints a picture of the world outside of the tech industry. Like as much as it pains me to say like it is just business. Like if you take a step back, there are a lot of other really important things going on in the world. And so I think one of my favorite things about this program is being able to not only delight our customers but think about the greater good that we could be serving. I've mentioned before about like Packed With Purpose. Like we're not only sending really delicious treats to our customers, we're making an impact in the world. And as much as I love HubSpot and I love what I do, like coming down to it, I feel very blessed to be able to do what I do. And so if I can give a little back with every gift that I send, like I am very happy to do it. And that's probably one of my favorite things about the program.
Any recommendations to find great places like that that have that social impact? I mean if you go online and start searching for like business gifts to give you give like all the base there, like you said, baskets and basic boring gifts. How are you like finding these great resources?
Yeah, I mean luckily I was just connected with them so it was like a unique situation but I'd say like if you just like kind of discover what causes you're really passionate about, you can then find ways to support the causes and through that you can also find ways to like give back in that sense. Like it really, it started with like just sending charity donations and as much as people was like you, for this Christmas, you've been given a gift of the donation to the X, Y, Z foundation. This not only does that but also gives them something tangible to, and so I was looking for stepping up from just sending them an email being like, we donated in your honor to like we donate in your honor and also you're getting something to celebrate you.
That's so awesome. So many ideas are going on in my head from this, from this episode and I'm really excited to share this with our customer success, customer success manager to talk about ways that we can implement this stuff. So I absolutely love it. But what about hard lessons or things that didn't go as well as you thought? Anything that you learned from this?
Yeah, I think honestly the dealing with angry customers has been my biggest learning, when I first started, like I thought maybe like the nicest, the nicest gifts you can send will always really please the angriest of customers. And that's not necessarily true. Like through my time in this program, I've really learned to read the situation. Like that is key. Understanding what the underlying issues are. Like if they have a business use situation, I've talked about this before, but like me sending them cookies isn't going to solve that for them. And if anything it's just going to be like, well I don't want to ever like trivialize someone. I don't want ever ever want someone to think like we're just like slapping on a band aid. And gushing (inaudible) like that's never the intention of this program. And since I'm sending on behalf of the customer success manager, I want to make sure that like the branding of the customer success manager is coming across.
And so I'd say really, really understanding the situation, understanding what the underlying issue is and solving for that. Like if typically angry customers, the last thing they want to do is be in their HubSpot portal when they're like having to deal with an issue. So like I've mentioned before, getting them out of the office, like just go enjoy some new time on us, a gift card or like I said, the restaurant gift card. And so that has been a big learning opportunity for me. And also, so I manage this program internationally and finding upgrade of opportunities for the US as per se I just send a gift to Tel Aviv or Hungary or like places all across the globe. I've really been able to understand what good vendors are and that type of thing. And so those have really been the biggest learning experiences for me.
Yeah, that's actually really valuable insights on, on the, you know, not not trivializing an issue from someone. Obviously they don't want to eat some cookies when they're really pissed off about something. And I think that idea to get them out of the office is kind of something a little bit different, but also show that like you're actively looking at the problem. You heard them, you're listening, you understand their frustrations, but you're there, help them as well. And I think that again goes back to the point humanizing it and if you automate that you really lose that process. And if you were giving advice to a smaller company, maybe even us, you know, much smaller than you guys and we are going to start something like this, what advice would you give us to, to get started?
Yeah, I mean honestly I think you guys hit the nail on the head. Sending the handwritten notes goes miles, costs 50 cents in postage. You just write a little note being like, I'm your contact. So excited to be working with you. Or just like wishing you a happy holiday season or something, again, it shows the same underlying value that you're thinking of them, you're taking the time to think of them outside of sitting down and having a call with them. And I think that is so important and it's so easy for businesses to start doing, even if they have like zero budget for these types of initiatives.
I love that. Just a personal touch, a little bit of your time and some creativity. It can go a long way. That's awesome. And you know, looking into 2020, here we are in the last week of 2019. Any challenges, opportunities, things that you're really excited about for this initiative moving forward?
Yeah, I think just constantly getting people bought into the mission, like you mentioned at the very beginning, making sure leadership understands the impact this program is having. While not necessarily having those KPIs to back it up. Like I'll say it a million times if we have one happy customer for every hundred gifts sent, like it's worth it in my book. And so just making sure leadership understands that too. I'm really looking forward to just seeing how this industry shifts as we continuously get more automated. I think what, what HubSpot did with the inbound movement really challenges customers, challenges companies to constantly think outside of the box and so it's always fun to see what comes next and not (inaudible).
That's it. I mean, as you push innovation and you know, new ideas, you're also have to continually stay at the forefront because it just makes more competition. But that's what drives good business. I think you guys are doing a really great job of representing that, continuing to show, thinking outside of that box, how can we step up? How can we live our values? How can we represent it for the entire community? Because the rest of us follow giants like you guys. So that's fantastic and sounds good. But what I want to do is I want to flip over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You'll have some unique perspectives here, are you ready to get started?
All right, let's do this thing. What advice would you give for an early stage, a SaaS company starting today?
I would say work just as hard on your culture as your product.
Oh, I love that. Absolutely love that. I totally agree. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
I've said a million times, but finding the right balance between optimization and customization.
I love that. Not just leaning all on customer automation, which is great, but takes away those relationships like we've been talking about all day. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
Definitely has to plug the HubSpot Academy for that one. For sure.
I think you guys, a lot of people on this podcast have said HubSpot, both the blog and the Academy. It's, it's fantastic. It's a great educational resource. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
I mean, if I'm not saying HubSpot as the candidate, I would definitely say Google Drive. I'm obsessed with Google Drive. Everything is in my Google Drive, so can't live without that one.
A necessary tool. Absolutely. I love that one. What about a brand business or a team that you admire today?
So coming out of the SaaS world? I would definitely say I admire Allbirds a ton. I love what they're doing with their values, but also their marketing and their product for sure. I don't (inaudible) way too many pairs of Allbirds.
What is that company?
It's a, it's called Allbirds, they're wool sneakers and they're very good for the planet, which like is quality and a brand that I look for something that's very like conscientious in regards to their carbon footprint, but also they are the most comfortable sneakers I've ever had. So definitely would recommend if you're thinking about Christmas gifts, Allbirds is a way to go.
That sounds amazing. I've never heard of that company, but I'm definitely gonna check them out after this. I'm all about companies that have great values and represent, you know, consciousness, consciousness in all levels from, you know, both planetarian environmental, as well as, you know, just cost and financial for people. But that's fantastic. You know, I just want to say thank you so much for coming on. Rachel. You've been an absolutely fantastic guest. What an incredible initiative that you guys are doing and, you know, thank you to you for doing it and for your company, HubSpot, for being such a leader for all of us, pushing us to be better, to be more human as companies and really appreciate your time.
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.
Wishing you a great holiday season, Rachel, and we'll talk soon.
Thanks so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode, joining myself and Rachel Yen from HubSpot who's working on this amazing customer delight program. (...)