Great NPS Scores Aren’t Enough: How HubSpot Keeps Focus On Solving For Every Customer


We want to know what makes great customer relationships. We took to Twitter and asked people which companies give them the best customer experiences. It was no surprise to us that HubSpot made the list.

HubSpot is a software company that develops products for inbound marketing. Their help pages and chat windows make it clear that they know a thing or two about how their customers use their products. They’re ready to help anywhere, anytime. Even in our chat, Niall Byrne, Director of HubSpot Support, got right to a work around when my audio wasn’t working in our video chat (thanks again for your patience, Niall.)

Learn how Niall and his team built a best in class support team focused on helping customer keep momentum and get stuff done.

We’ll start with what most people are curious about: What’s been your most memorable moment with a customer?
It was in my very first role as a technical support advisor for AOL. A gentleman called into the support line looking for help. We typically helped users get connected to the internet over dial up modem (pre-­broadband days) and with basic internet use. This customer wanted to build a personal website. He had very little knowledge of how to do this, but really wanted to build something to create his online presence. It was something that was going to consume a lot of my time, but it was in the evening and we didn’t have any other customers waiting so I decided to help him get started. We built out the basic framework of his site and I showed him how to edit the pages so he could add content. It was only towards the end of the call through our conversation about the content that I realized who I was talking to. I’m a big motor racing fan and I love Formula 1. I was over the moon when it emerged I was helping Formula 1 legend Sir Stirling Moss. I’ll never forget that call because I got to speak with one of my heros.

Today in HubSpot Support we take the same attitude towards customers and it’s built right into our culture. Regardless of how big or small the issue is, regardless of how long it takes, whether they’re our hero or not, we aim to Solve For the Customer, every time.

Wow… What a moment. Well you segued into my first HubSpot question pretty nicely. The company is based in Cambridge, your support team is in Dublin, and you have 15,000 customers all over the world. How is your team structured to support all of that?
HubSpot support lives in four offices – Cambridge MA, Portsmouth NH, Dublin, and a small, growing team in Singapore. Having these teams around the globe allows us to make sure we provide the same level of service we’re known for in the US to our customers around the world, responding to customer’s in their local business hours.

We use data to identify patterns and staff to meet that customer demand. That includes not just what times of the day customer like to contact us but also how they like to contact us. For example, our US based customer for the most part like to call us, whereas outside the US customer prefer to email us. We want to be able to respond through whatever channel they prefer.

Yea I saw your help page even welcomes Tweeting for help. Support Tweets make a lot of companies nervous. Why is Hubspot so open to them?
We want to make ourselves available in whatever way is convenient for someone to reach us at that time. If they tweet to us it may be because they’re on their mobile. If we respond by calling or emailing, it may not be the right channel for them at that time. If it’s something that can’t easily be handled over Twitter we’ll offer to call or email them at a time that’s convenient for them.

How does your team measure success? What metrics matter to you?
You can measure a million things in a support team: number of cases solved, average call length, agent availability, and so on. Those things aren’t important to the customer. Part of our culture is Getting Stuff Done and that’s important to our customers too. When they call support they don’t want a hand written letter or flowers. They want a solution that helps them achieve their goals and maintain their momentum. That’s important to us, letting them stay in the zone and keep working.

When [customers] call support they don’t want a hand written letter or flowers. They want a solution that helps them achieve their goals and maintain their momentum.Tweet: When [customers] call support they don’t want a hand written letter or flowers. They want a solution that helps them achieve their goals and maintain their momentum.

The metrics that I care about usually reflect the customer experience rather than internal processes. I care about how satisfied our customers are with the support they received and how quickly we were able to help them.

At the same time it’s easy to look a really good NPS score and be happy, but it isn’t perfect and there are frustrated customers in that score. I don’t just want to be the best-­in-­class support team, I want to be the best-­for-­every-­customer support team. I want our focus to be on solving for them, striving for perfection rather than being content with our NPS score.

That’s a great point about survey scores. How do you work with those frustrated customers?
We want to delight every time, but not everyone can be a promoter. If someone is dissatisfied it’s not always because something bad happened. For example, in some situations a customer may be trying to do something that just isn’t a feature on HubSpot. In these situations it’s about how we solve for that customer and hopefully in turn prevent someone from being a detractor. It’s important that the customer know their frustration is heard and we take some action. In this case we would help find a work­around that will fit their needs as well as show them how they can submit an idea directly to our product team. At our Inbound conference in 2014 our founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah talked directly about how these customer submitted ideas led to over 140 product updates.

Do you have any other advice for building a best in class customer experience team?
Hire the very best people. Not just the best people you can find. If you have any doubt, don’t hire them and keep looking. At the end of the day they are the voice of your business talking to your customers every minute of every day, delivering your customer experience. The best people have what we call the ‘customer gene’ and are problem solvers. They go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to solve for the customer every time.

Building a great team culture has also been really important for me. We’re a very close group that works really well together. You can’t know everything so it’s important that we work as a team and find solutions together. Hiring is one of the most important parts I play in the team. Maintaining that great culture, the team comradery, finding the best people to represent HubSpot and solve for our customers is on my head.

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