We have all had this experience: you’re having an issue with a product or service and hope to resolve it quickly by calling the company directly, only to be met with never-ending wait times and the shuffle from department to department where you have to re-summarize your issues before–hopefully–arriving to a solution.
For consumers, this leaves a poor impression and can lead to them moving on from their product or service entirely. The pandemic has forced us to be intentional about a great many things–among them, how we communicate with customers and create founded experiences for them in the digital space.
Creating a high-impact user experience online can be challenging, which is why I connected with Poorvi Shrivastav, GM & Vice-President of Product at HubSpot
Gary Drenik: Poorvi, thanks for joining me. Can you start off by laying the foundation of how expectations for customer service evolved since the start of the pandemic?
Poorvi Shrivastav: It’s my pleasure! I think that not only have customer expectations for service changed–they’re actually demanding more from companies, both in B2B and B2C. In a recent survey we conducted at HubSpot, 88% of customer service professionals in 2022 agreed that customers have higher expectations than in the past.
What that means broadly is that generic, inflexible customer service experiences are no longer cutting it. Not only do cookie-cutter experiences lead to lower customer satisfaction, but they can also impact the bottom line. Delightful customer service retains happy customers, painful service experiences cause them to look elsewhere.
Companies need to shift from a reactive customer service strategy to one that is more proactive. By partnering with the right technology to enable greater self-service, personalization and real-time solutions, companies can create more authentic experiences for customers.
Drenik: You mentioned the word authentic in your description. What is authentic service, and how can it improve the bottom line for businesses?
Shrivastav: Providing authentic customer service means providing customer service when, where, and how customers want it most. Making your customers feel heard and valued is one way your customer service teams can communicate appreciation toward your customers, especially at times when they are feeling frustrated or in need of help. The best way to provide this level of customer satisfaction is to maximize the speed at which a customer can engage with a human, and to maximize the channels for which that engagement can happen, starting with the phone, web chat, email, SMS, and any additional channels your specific customers use most.
According to a recent survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics, an easy-to-use website is one of the most important contributors to a quality customer experience, trailing only factors related to cost. 81% of adults 18+ said a user-friendly website was an important piece of a great customer experience, following low prices (85%) and free delivery (84%).
Investing in customer service at the outset means better customer experiences and improved retention. It’s 5-25x more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Authentic service, powered by tools like snippets, conversational intelligence, and playbooks that are shared across marketing, sales, and service teams, is ultimately a better business decision.
Drenik: We’ve discussed a lot of tech innovation, but what about customers that prefer traditional channels? According to the Prosper Insights & Analytics survey you mentioned, 52% of Millennials prefer toll-free, live customer service, and nearly 60% of Gen-X and Baby Boomers prefer customer service in this same way. With many business decision makers living in this age demographic, how can tech make it, so they don’t miss out on important experiences?
Shrivastav: That’s a great point. Ultimately, customer service is not a one-size-fits-all industry. For HubSpot, we want to provide the flexibility to give people the tools they know and trust, like a simple phone call, while also making sure no touchpoint goes forgotten. We recently launched inbound calling, which lets teams receive and track calls via unique phone numbers that link directly with the CRM.
This way, representatives can be on tap to reach customers on their terms, while also making it easy to reach resolution with speed and authenticity with all the information you need in one place.
Drenik: That sounds great, but how can businesses adapt to authentic customer service while being mindful of employees’ work/life balance?
Shrivastav: The customer is always right, but let’s face it, teams can’t ask service staffers to be online 24/7. I mentioned earlier that providing authentic customer service is a good business decision. While that’s undoubtedly true, it can also create tangible savings on the human costs of doing business. The reality of authenticity is being honest with your customers when there simply isn’t an agent available, all while making it clear to them that they have been heard and will be responded to.
We’ve found that Service Hub users have not only been able to boost revenues through authentic service, but also save time and resources at the same time. Look no further than HubSpot’s own customer support team as an example. By leveraging Service Hub and doubling down on live chat, our team saved $2.3M in annual headcount, increased productivity by 1.6x. Not only did they save time, but the live support for customers helped our sales team generate $38 million in recurring revenue since 2019 by passing them leads.
This is just one example. Businesses can also use automation, in the form of a human-like chatbot or administrative help desk, to uplevel people and save time by reducing the friction of administrative functions.
Drenik: One last question: how do you see customer experiences changing in the future during remote work?
Shrivastav: One idea that we are always thinking about, using our own experience, is how sales processes are changing—especially in the past two years where we’ve seen remarkable evolutions in how a resilient sales organization function. For instance, companies are no longer just focused on selling, but rather interested in delivering a strong end-to-end customer experience.
Businesses of all shapes, sizes, and audiences can build those experiences authentically by joining all customer touchpoints together on a unified platform. By bringing outbound, inbound, and service together, companies can build authentic experiences and delight customers, ultimately allowing them to scale faster and grow better.
Drenik: Thanks so much for your insights on building authentic customer service, Poorvi. It was great to hear about how you’re thinking about creating high-impact experiences online.