Four Keys to Creating a 6-Star Customer Experience From Julie Hogan, Drift’s VP of Customer Success

By Drift


“A legend.”

“Phenom that rose through the ranks.”

Those are the words Drift CEO David Cancel used to describe Drift’s new VP of Customer Success and Services, Julie Hogan.

You see, Julie’s been leading Customer Success since before most SaaS businesses even called it “Customer Success,” starting her time at HubSpot as an account manager before working her way up to VP leading HubSpot’s global direct customer base and their international customer services teams.

Last week, Julie sat down in the Seeking Wisdom studio for the first time (but certainly not the last), to talk all things customer experience and success with Drift’s Dave Gerhardt and David Cancel.

Listen to the full interview here:

Want the highlights? Here are four keys to delivering a 6-star customer experience in your business:

1. Hiring tip: Hospitality experience translates well into Customer Success roles.

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Instead of looking for a killer resume with a great 4-year degree and an awesome company or two when hiring, Julie looks for the skills and experiences that those who have worked in the hospitality space bring to the table:

“The reality is, when you service people you learn those skills so many other places and let’s even talk about our day-to-day life in an office, in SaaS. How often do you even see customers? We invite them in on rare events.

But when you work in a hotel, when you work in a bar, when you work in a restaurant, when you work in service to others, you are around people you are servicing and serving all day long. You learn the muscle group which is how to predict, how to proactively understand what those things are going to be that they need and you learn how to respond to it in real-time. So I have found it really valuable to hire people who have a background in hospitality.”

2. Always be learning from your own customer experiences.

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Over the summer Julie had the unfortunate task of needing to go with one of her sons to Children’s Hospital of Boston. Thankfully he’s OK, but what Julie experienced there from a customer or patient experience perspective floored her.

“I was floored by, from parking our car, to going through registration, to having to get labs done, to going in, every single person we met along the way was incredible. And it struck that in my mind, I don’t care who is the doctor and that’s ultimately the person who’s going to be servicing me, I care about the experience along the way because it’s sort of a crummy place to be and they just make you feel really, really great.”

As a result, Julie invited the Head of Patient Experience at Children’s to come in and speak with the Drift team over a lunch-and-learn. Surprisingly there was more to find in common than you might first think between a Children’s Hospital and a Software-as-a-Service business:

“We asked her, we know Children’s Hospital is very different than being at a SaaS software company, but let’s talk about the things that you value and the way in which you hire people and the way in which you then hold people accountable to those things and execute against those things… We had a really great conversation… and we couldn’t believe how much of an overlap there was, in fact part of their nurses [routine] is what they call a warm hand-off, the hand off of a patient from one nurse to another, some of the things she taught us we’re now implementing into our own strategy from sales handoff to customer success handoff when somebody buys.”

3. You can’t have great customers without having great employees.

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One thing Julie believes in is moving away from is the culture that needs to put either customers or employees ahead on the experience ranking or in different categories. In order to be a great company there should be one experience whether you are a customer or an employee.

“So your experience with Drift, whether you’re an employee or whether you’re a customer, is one where we want there to be core values that we live by, that we execute against, and you experience both as an employee and a customer.”

Once you have the employees in place ready to deliver a first class experience to great customers what do you need to do?

“And then you just start doing it. I think that’s part of the other problem as well. Often you put so much focus into the project plan or the process around it.”

4. Focus on the experience of the customer, rather than prioritizing the internal process.

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While discussing striving for a 1-1 customer relationship experience and whether it’s something that can’t scale in a larger growing SaaS business Julie had this to say:

“It doesn’t scale because nobody has tried to do it. The blogs you read and the other companies you look at, I call it the tradition of Customer Success or the tradition of SaaS Economics, where when you hear any company talk about their onboarding experience it all uses the same language and if you do a Google search for SaaS onboarding experience, you’ll see some variation of a line into perpetuity and little milestone markers and then words like onboarding, implementation, engagement, handoff, kickoff.

Instead of thinking about ‘How do we make this experience better?’ we always try to improve the process and then suddenly we’re tied to this reporting that backs into that process, and our customers are no longer a customer who pays a certain amount of money with a certain amount of potential, who’s in this industry, who has these needs, our customer is this customer who represents X number of dollars, who’s in this orange and yellow color because their usage is this and that’s how we define our work.”

Subscribe on iTunes and catch the full interview with Julie on this episode of Seeking Wisdom.

Books Mentioned in This Episode: