Tips on how to improve your business' customer service experience by Michael Redbord

  • Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer service experience
  • SAS is software as a service
  •  If you're really good at keeping customers, you can spend more to get customers
  • Hubspot gives away a ton of “how to” tools, knowledge, even some pieces of software to help folks grow and to run better businesses
  • Service and customers can open up new revenue streams
  • I think the better way you can grow is by closing that gap in the bottom of your bucket as opposed to pouring more In the top

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With Michael Redbord from HubSpot. Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer experience

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Doug: Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Real Marketing, Real Fast. Today, we're in for a real treat. We've got a market leader in the SAS space the software as a service space that's going to help you increase your customer value. If you're really good at keeping customers, you can spend more to get customers, it's simple math. If your customer value goes up, everyone in your sales and marketing gets a raise and a bigger budget to go after new ones. So if your sales and marketing leaders want to raise bigger budgets, they need to make more noise and greater investments in customer service.

Michael Redbord, General Manager of Service Hub at HubSpot has helped scale the support and success teams from a startup to a publicly traded SAS juggernaut. As a noted writer and speaker and leader, Michael is ready to share his vision and experience at HubSpot with us to help you envision what it looks like for your business. So here's the big hint, it's all about the customer.

So welcome to the Real Marketing Podcast today.

Michael: Thanks so much, Doug. I'm really, really excited to be here, talk a little marketing, talk a little customer, talk a lot about growth.

Doug: I think there's nobody that's listening to this is going to complain about having more growth in your business.

So is there anything I left out in your bio, an introduction that you'll like to share with us?

Michael: Nah. I think it was a pretty good summary. I think a lot of the listeners are probably familiar with HubSpot as a marketing, sales software company, and now a service software company. I've been at HubSpot for eight years which like you said was from a little baby kind of startup company now to a larger publicly trading company and have seen a lot of stages of growth. We solved a lot in terms of how to grow, how to acquire customers, then of course how to keep your customers happy so that you can grow better. So I think you got it.

Doug: Well I think that anyone who is online recognizes you guys as leaders, in terms of generosity of information, the tips and the valuable content that you share to education customers.

Michael: Yeah. That's something that we've just put in a lot of effort to and it's something that's really inner DNA. It's part of what we call inbound marketing, where drawing people in. We give away a ton of how to tools, knowledge, even some pieces of software, right, to help folks grow and to run better businesses. That's just absolutely core to how we think about growth at HubSpot.

Doug: And I'm excited is that I shared just before we got a recording to be a new HubSpot customer with a chairman's club, a new product we're working on. I will be going deep dive into the software, to make sure we're maximizing the value for the products that we're working on.

Michael: That's awesome. I hope you like it and welcome to the platform and if there are any of our customers listening out there, welcome thanks for the business, we love having you guys.

Doug: Let's dig deep into something that's a really great topic, I don't think we've talked about this in the podcast yet. Often when I go speak to a group I would ask the audience who were typically entrepreneurs so for anybody who is in the audience who's heard the old saying, “it costs more to attack a new customer to keep an old one”, raise your hand and 100% of the audience would typically put up their hands so they acknowledge that's a good thing. Then I would ask the next question, how much money are you spending out your budget in terms of percentage to keep your existing customers versus new acquisition and this is where the audience goes astray. They're spending all their money on acquisition although seconds before they had admitted that their profit is in their existing customers.

So do you want to expand on that and your knowledge and how you guys have managed to do what you do?

Michael: I honestly loved that little one-two punch there Doug, that's really clever because you do get those answers right, everybody knows that it's easier to keep and earn more from an existing customer. I think about a really simple sort of everyday example. There are a few different grocery stores in my town. I got the one that I like because every time I go there, the produce is in good shape and all of that. They acquired me at some point in the beginning and they had this probably spend a bunch in advertising and sending me flyers and telling folks they had opened in town. But now that they're there, I go to them every time unless it's off hours and I need to go somewhere else. So all my repeat business to them has a much lower acquisition cost, right, then getting me there as a first time customer.

People just know this and I think when you think about your everyday life, you tend to go back to businesses that you like doing business with and that you get good value from. The same applies to software companies, the same applies to service companies, really every type of business. So when we think about this at HubSpot, right, there's really just two kinds of metrics we really, really zero in on. There's your cost of acquisition and there's your lifetime value of your customer and for really any business these are the two metrics that to me that to find your funnel and to find the mechanics that happened in there, to give you a sort of the answer as to how much more does it cost you to acquire a customer versus to kind of keep a customer that you have or earn more off that customer.

Doug: Right. Yep. Totally makes sense. We talk lifetime value all the time. When we're talking about acquisitions and if you know the lifetime value of your customer you can figure out what you can afford to spend to get the customer in the first place.

Michael: Exactly.

Doug: So why do you think the businesses don't invest more heavily in retention and growing their existing customers to spend more?

Michael: So I think, that's actually a really interesting question because it involves some organization psychology and the way that organizations think about themselves. Let me throw a little bit of math out here if that's all right because I think that will help illustrate. As you're a growing business, right, you can't acquisition your way purely into growth in the fact you need to when you start and you have no customers you need to go out to the market and attract some customers and one of the first things you do is start spending money on the acquisition.

It's like the first bit of muscle memory that a business typically develops and then your go-to-market tends to get relatively sophisticated, you know that you have a certain budget to then go out and get certain customers and your cost acquisitions are approximately X right and you can understand those mechanics. I think it's actually a tricky proposition to understand okay what if we took some of that acquisition budget, some of that money we spend on growth, to put it differently, and we diverted that into a service function or a remarking function or a customer marketing function, how would that behave? And for a lot of businesses, that's actually very risky because their lifeblood is that acquisition stroke and diverting anything from that represents a lot of risks. So even to take 5 or 10 % of that acquisition budget and reroute it into keeping customers happy and growing revenues that way, that actually represents a lot of risks and that can physiologically be very, very tricky, I think for a lot of businesses.

Doug: Well on the other side though you're at risk of losing that customer if someone else comes along. I mean if your relationship is not any deeper than the surface, the next best company that comes along is going to take your customers so you've lost them.

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With Michael Redbord from HubSpot. Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer experience

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Michael: Exactly. That's a reality. I think when you're really small and your starting to develop these muscles though, that's not as much of a painful reality. When you have ten customers and you lose one, you can replace that one customer pretty quickly, you know, but when you have 10 thousand customers and you are starting to lose like a thousand every month or every year then this problem actually starts to get a little bit more real and the pain starts to become more real and then folks I think, start to focus on this type of conversation more than just the hey how can I just acquire faster and faster.

Doug: Right. So how do you address that?

Michael: I think that it's a matter of opening folks eyes to the fact that service and customers can open up new revenue streams, right. And so you can kind of work the math problem I think a little bit deeper and say okay so you have a budget to acquire say it's a hundred buck and if you're going to lose 30% of your customers is going to cost you $30 to replace them, and then you're only going to have 70 to spend on acquisition right, and you say well that's one set of math. What if we do the different set of math? We still have the same hundred dollar budget, right but somehow we are able to divert some of that budge into keeping our customers happier and we could reduce the number that leaves us or increase the number that comes back to us. We can actually get a better ROI out of that spend than being in our head as the same ole acquisition dance.

I think kind of opening up folks eyes to the fact that that budget can be applied with more leverage sometimes to your customers especially as you get bigger I think that's a really, really interesting conversation and that gives people the bravely to then go do that and the courage to sort of say we're going to diverge some of that budget to our customers as opposed to just pouring it back into the acquisition funnel.

Doug: Well and you'll have to excuse me, this isn't really an apology it's just a statement that I'm so folks in the marketing side often when I will meet with a potential new client, I would want to see their database so how many customers do you have, what's the lifetime value of your customer, what's the average purchase, what's your cost to acquire them and then my recommendation comes back to a pure sales point of view so what else can we sell your existing customer and can we go to your existing customers and ask them for referrals. Usually, I'm about servicing the customer, making sure they're happier but there's still a value from that customer being more deeply engaged because there are more opportunities to increase their value.

Michael: Yeah. I mean I think a lot of businesses have that model that you referenced though, right, the sort of when to expand or seed and grow or whatever you want to call it. Where you start off with your customers and you grow their revenue over time. It's a great model, it works really, really well. I think the challenge is that you can't grow an unhappy customer rather you can, it's just really, really hard. There's all this work that it's sometimes a dirty little secret of how businesses operate but there's all this work in the service land to get your customers to the point where they're ready to not just be seeded but now to grow, to create fertile sort of ground to extend the analogy. That work to me is work in terms of setting the right expectations, delivering that on time, on schedule, on value, getting those folks to the point they're seeing the value they intended when they started working with you before they were a customer. All of that kind of works sets them up for their own success and then critically their own successes begets your own growth. So, that seeding growth strategy works really, really well. But really if and I would argue only if your customers are actually in a good place and ready to grow.

Doug: Yeah sure fair enough. If they're not happy with you, it doesn't matter how many times you talk to them they're not going to buy anymore actually it may drive them away.

Michael: Yeah. I think a lot of businesses they have kind of just okay customer experience and I know this is a tough message for a lot of our listeners who probably think we have great customer experience. But let me throw just a quick start out there I think when we surveyed HubSpot businesses, we said do you think you have exceptional customer experience is what we asked them and 80% of those respondents said “yes” we have great customer experience, you know our customers are really happy. We asked their customers, right, so we turned around and asked their customers, how often do you experience exceptional customer service or exceptional experience from your vendors and 8 just the number 8, right, said that they do and the numbers can be off by a little bit but it's still a massive disconnect. A lot of businesses are sitting there saying we've got great customer experience and we're ready to seed and grow these accounts and they're customer are looking back at them calling them crazy so I think getting honest with yourself and being real about your customer experience is almost a prerequisite for this entire conversation.

Doug: Well that may be a hard message but I would often say you need to plug the hole in the bottom of the bucket before you pour more water in.

Michael: I love that analogy. I think especially as you grow and an extra example is some small numbers, a hundred dollar acquisition budget and 10 customers and you know one or two leaving you or something like that but as you grow and those numbers get bigger and bigger and that hole in the bucket gets bigger and bigger, it actually becomes harder to close. Making a better bucket as it was when your smaller is really I think the right way to grow and you'll treat your customers better over time and I would even argue it's a little bit of a different conversation but I would argue has great kind of network effects, potential for virality, word of mouth referrals and actually help you grow those happy customers can be your champions too.

Doug: Yeah. Absolutely. That's so funny. I mean I'm just thinking of examples of where we've seen people do that where they're just pouring more on the top and more coming out of the bottom. I said stop you're really letting the world know that you're delivering an inferior service so let's fix this service first and then let's go talk to some people that might stick around.

Michael: One comment on that, I think a lot of marketing folks, marketing agencies, growth consultants all that, we're hired to kind of improve go to market, right, and that's sort of the reason why they were employed in the first place by a given client. If you really peel that back, you were hired to grow revenue, right. You were hired to just grow period. I think the better way you can grow is by closing that gap in the bottom of your bucket as opposed to pouring more on the top.

I love a business that can do that and really kind of consult like that as opposed to say no you hired us to grow the number of leads so we're going to just keep feeding you leads that's our job. Somebody that actually really expands that into a more consultative motion where you're trying to view marketing and growth as a horizontal function, not just a vertical one, I love that.

Doug: Like you said you know it's about growth and numbers and obviously you don't want to have this just one customer but you want to have a handful of customers that are advocates and evangelist for your brand to go out there and help you share the story and help your marketing dollars go further

Michael: I don't think to quantify that last bit, the advocacy bit is really, really tricky. You kind of know it when you see it like when you have a really happy customer that drives you a referral or you sort of hear about. I think actually quantifying some of that is really tricky for businesses that are service-based businesses or things like that where they're not selling online and there is a lot of referral links or something. I think it's actually very hard to quantify that advocacy even though it's a massive, massive factor in how businesses grow. Everybody says word of mouth is one of their biggest sources of growth.

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With Michael Redbord from HubSpot. Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer experience

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Doug: Yeah and that might come back in line with the same numbers, same 80% who think that their customer services are good because we tried to measure that and it's very difficult to say oh where did you hear about our business. Oh, we saw you on TV, it's like we're not on TV. Oh, we saw you on the paper, we're not on the paper. So I think consumers they may become aware of your brand but they might not always remember how.

Michael: Yeah. If you ask people about their memory, they mostly remember wrong.

Doug: Well I'm still shocked that 80% think they're delivering excellent customer service and only 8 people agreed.

I was being interviewed on a radio show one day and somebody asked about good customer service and it was kind of weird because we got some dead airspace, between the two of us the host and myself we couldn't think of one example of exceptional service rep.

Okay, let's go on to the next topic.

Michael: Yeah. I mean it's really tricky but, this is why I think that 80% is so high, why so many businesses think they're delivering superior customer service because it's very very difficult to say that you're not serving the people that you're basically obliged to right, it's very difficult to say that you're not upholding your kind of end of the bargain. So for a business to be honest enough with themselves, that 20 %, I actually respect a lot. ‘Cause they're saying, no we're not good enough, we're not meeting what we said we're going to, we've overpromised and under delivered. Saying all of that and saying that to the people your employees, right, as an owner or partner leader at a company, that's really, really hard. Saying we must get better, not like oh just this quarter, this year we're going to work on this thing. But no really not meeting expectations that are super, super tricky, I talked about it before where it requires a lot of courage to do that right.

Doug: But the reality is if that's the truth your staff already knows that.

Michael: Your frontline staff probably know it. The person that talks to your clients, to your customers all day they know it, in their heart of hearts when they're outside of the office with colleagues in the evening or something that's what they're talking about right making that the narrative of your company and really [putting the customer first, that's real challenge to a lot of organizations.

Doug: No absolutely. No, I totally get that. The small business I mean as you scale you've pulled a million different ways and stretches your trying to boost your company add staff, train staff and not systems isn't always the freest thing you put in place.

Michael: No it's an absolutely the last thing, right. Systematizing and all of that.

Doug: I have to I'm working 24 hours a day, I need a system to help me.

Michael: Yeah, exactly and I think understanding the state of your customers relative to their experience in your systems and all of that along with all of the pressures that you have day to day like making payroll and just growing and meeting your numbers, that's really really hard to sit, take a step back, take an external view put yourself in your customers shoes, walk a mile, and honestly ask yourself if it's working or not.

It is really, really hard to think about companies that have exceptional customer experience though, even me who works in customer service, it's hard and it's probably a few that I can rattle off but I don't have a laundry list of them by any means.

Doug: Yeah which is really kind of sad when you think of all the choices we have in the marketplace that we can't come up with a list of you know a dozen places or absolutely phenomenal that you'd recommend.

Michael: I do think that it's moving as competition increases in the market and human beings get less patient, we expect things right now, 30 seconds is too long to wait for anything. We're less patient, we're less trusting too. We're less trusting in media, we're less trusting in marketing messages all that. I do think that really good customer service and customer advocacy is going to grow as a trend. So we say mark these words customer advocacy will grow as a trend in the next decade but there are not many folks out there doing it well. There's a couple of companies that I could mention here that I'll say oh yeah they're doing a pretty nice job but if they're very modern companies kind of operating in some futuristic ways.

I think about something really interesting that's going on, I think is a pretty boring business in some ways but the mattress industry, right. Business has been around in forever it always used to be you went to the mattress store, you lay on a bunch of things, you got a bunch of sales pitches and you didn't go your way into the mattress you kind of sort of feel like you got kind of a raw deal. Now you got folks like Caspar and Tough to Needle and all these guys and I feel like they're doing a really, really interesting motion in terms of selling mattresses online, direct to consumer but then after you buy man, there's so much followup so much effort to ensure your happiness, they're really, really trying to keep you as a customer and assure that advocacy. I think that's an industry that's doing some interesting stuff and is creating pretty happy customers quite often.

Doug: Well that's really cool, it's always great to look and see who's doing a good job. So in a space like you guys, I mean I remember years and years ago looking online at keywords keyword research for a product we were working on and looking at how expensive it was to compete in the CRM space. So you guys a SAS company and you're kind of in that space, so how did you do achieve such high level of customer service when you're building this? You started from the beginning and now the company is huge so you've gone through the whole scale, so what were some of the things that you did to make sure you guys upheld that service?

Michael: Yeah. I think we've actually done things in some ways a little bit backward, which is maybe is why we are a little bit different. And I won't say doing things backwards was out or smartness or anything, I think it was often out of ignorance but it sort of built us differently.

I don't know the example that's a little simplistic is when most software companies start, you start building a product and you do some marketing and once you actually start getting customers you try to start working with them in very structured ways that limit their ability to get help essentially, right. So you say okay look, you can chat with us to get an answer or you can send us an email, we'll get back to you in 24 hours, how about that.

When we started we didn't have any chat support, we didn't have any email support, all we had was a phone. Like I said that's a little backwards, it's a little crazy, it's a little expensive to take phone calls, you have to sit at your desk and pick it up but for years our support team was really primarily phone based, we did 90% or our work via phone as we grew and that just got us really, really close to our customers, we had people that were on the phone with customers as they were experiencing issues all day. Those people sat next to the engineers, what do you know something good happened and you know probably some of that is a little backward.

Phone support is probably the wrong way economically to do it but it gave us a really good benefit. Probably sitting people on the phone next to your engineers is also probably a terrible idea because it bugs them and they're trying to do heads down work and focus but you know what, that actually had good outcomes too. I think that in some ways we got lucky by starting things a little bit backward, but in retrospect, we got really close to our customers and we got our products really close to our customers too and that's just DNA that we've incorporated and kept since those early days.

Doug: That's so interesting because I had sent an email off to a company that I had purchased a product, a subscription-based product and I couldn't log in and I sent them a note and two days ago they got back to me and went yeah we're checking into. Like seriously like you go my money, I've been a client of yours for a while the login is not working, what's going on. So you're right I think our expectations are that we get immediate service and I think good for you guys for doing that whether intentional or that's just the way that it happened. It's so difficult for customers these days to trust a brand that they can't reach.

Michael: Yeah I mean I think we had that original kind of twist in our setup and I think the smart thing that we did was recognize that sort of mutation as it were was giving us an outsized benefit and then we really leaned into it. So we still do a lot of phone support for paying customers right, as we've rolled out a free CRM we've established a lot of community support that we try to get back to people really quickly and then as soon as you pay us any money you get access to phone support and all of that. So I think that the smart things were recognizing that thing that was kind of strange about us was actually somewhat secret sauce and we bottled it and now that's what we do every day all day.

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With Michael Redbord from HubSpot. Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer experience

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Doug: Well there are vendors that we've stayed with because they had phone support. Years ago we were using an email tool like an ESP and they were eventually bought out by a couple of other big brands and people said why do you stay with them and I said because I can phone and I could talk to somebody if I had a problem. So if we're in the middle of a customer campaign or we're using their tool I don't want the two days turn around, I want someone to answer the problem immediately because that's something that would make my customer happy and that level of service reflects back on my company, my brand, and what I do for my customers.

Michael: It totally does and I think that having one number to call and even other things like one bill to pay, one sort of set of consultative advice to follow, that can be really really powerful for companies out there. Those three things support, customer relationship, and consulting kind of the how-to methodology stuff, like those three things, I think are things that often we don't think about investing in. We think about investing in acquisition and paid to spend and salespeople and things like that but those three things can be things that actually create a lot of stickiness, a lot of return customers, increased basket size, increased TLV, do all those good things we were talking about before Doug that can then have better pull through into your economics and spending that incremental dollar on SEM or something that like.

Doug: Yeah. Absolutely. So for people that are sitting back listening today and going okay. Yeah. That sounds good but what are some of the myths around this specific tactic saying hey put your customers first, look at the numbers dig deep. Where do you think people are going to push back?

Michael: Yeah I think it's really hard and I think it's a bit of a black box and I think there's a lot of concern about expense both in [inaudible 00:21:55], right. So one being that it just sort of it's a pure cost item and customers always want more, right, which is true to a certain degree. People will always want more from you. And second, people aren't sure how to invest that money and actually get a return. You say okay, I could invest more but how do I vector that than for an actual return, right. And so when I think about all this-this is what I would say to them you need to get started somewhere, you need to get started somewhere. If you recognize some truth in what we're talking about here as a listener then you got to get started somewhere. And the place that I would start is getting closer to your customers and trying to understand their problem space a little bit better relative to you, right. It's unlikely that you're doing everything perfectly and I think you got to recognize that and so if you just ask your customers how's it going and getting into the habit of establishing listening [inaudible 00:22:39] with them that enable them to communicate with you things are going well and not well, that's really the first step on the path of success here.

Because if you can do that, you can start to understand, oh these are the things people find really valuable about us and maybe you start to recognize something like my phone support for example or you can start to recognize these are the things that we think we're really good at but actually are really challenging or this is the way that we've set ourselves up that we didn't even realize is creating this outcome, good or bad. So I'm a huge fan of simply asking the question, if you have a login space on your website or if you're a software product, put a little popup there that says hey on a scale of 0 to 10, how are we doing and why. Simple kind of promoter score question, that just opens up this entire universe of knowledge and it will enable you to find the leverage points and it will enable you to get closer to your customers to actually get a return out of this whole conversation and get on the path.

Doug: I think that's a great concept and I've even heard it from a sales point of view that you would ask customers why they bought from you. So again you're not trying to sell them more, you're trying to learn so like they may identify things that you like you said, you and I aren't aware of they bought for a different reason than we thought or a different reason our marketing people thought or they like our product for a reason that we didn't expect.

Michael: Oh yeah. You just learn so much. You don't get every customer responding to you. We all have a certain degree of survey fatigue, right. We'll respond to some surveys, especially for brands that we're passionate about, either passionate positively or often negatively and that information is just gold. You start to run the stuff a month or two and start to get in a couple of responses, you follow up and you call up or send an email to a few of those folks who you saw passionate in either positive or negative. Don't be afraid of the angry guys they become your best advocates in the future if you turn them around. You start to work with them, you start to understand where they are and then man you create so much change in your business, it's such a different focal point now on the customer that can be really transformative.

Doug: So coming back just to the number side of it, so I got to go to my VP of Finance and I got to ask for budget. So, how do you do that?

Michael: To do what I just suggested is not only cheap, it's also easy and organizationally simple, right. So to start understanding your customers better and to start getting that feedback in, we're really talking about like putting one pop up on your website or sending one email a month, which is really not that much as far as spin goes. I think when you start getting that data in, that data, that information from your customers and that voice from your customer is the thing that you use to have that conversation with your CFO, to try to make the budget work right. ‘Cause you can then start to point at things and say look, we have 10 of our clients that are saying that this is a really big problem and here's a solution to that that can help us make hay there. And this solution will cost X and we think that would have a wide effect.

I think the service people have an obligation or customer minded people have an obligation to go get the data, get the feedback and solution a little bit. Yes, to find the problem but also to present a solution and that's how to start getting spending in order to make “happier customers”. No one is going to just throw money at a service department or a service team or hire that next service person or whatever it is just because that's what you're going to do with acquisition sales people and marketing. You need to make a really good case, show the data, and some light can be really good disinfectant there.

Doug: Well and I think it will also provide validation too. If you're getting feedback if you do have a direct sales team whether their inbound or outbound or salespeople still calling to review their feedback the same as the customers and you'll see what sort of message. What are your customers telling your sales people versus what are they telling you online?

Michael: I love that, that gives you a much better 360-degree sort of viewpoint, right. Which I think is super duper value.

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With Michael Redbord from HubSpot. Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer experience

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Doug: Yep. Absolutely. So what's new and exciting in your space moving forward?

Michael: I think there's actually a bunch of stuff that's really new and exciting. I'll list off a couple of things and I think the question from me is what's going to have an impact, right, at any point and time there's a bunch of new stuff, innovation is awesome. I think about all right what ten years from now is going to have staying power, it's going to really work, right. Like today I look back and I think about the video when YouTube was acquired by Google, we were like that was kind of strange but now we can't imagine life without video. What's the next really big impact player out there?

So here is a couple that I think about that is really exciting and I spend a lot of time IDA ding on trying to figure out if it's going to be the next big thing. So I'm really into … like everyone else is on the planet right now, I'm really into chat, really into bots and really into chatbots. I think that it's an asynchronous way of communicating. I mentioned how powerful the phone is, well it's largely powerful 'cause its synchronous and you can do a great job over chat. Here we have chatbots which are a way to automate that interaction, man that's really appealing from a business perspective but also a double one from a customer perspective because now I can talk to you, you're business when you're asleep, right and that's super valuable. I'm a big fan of that one as sort of the first opportunities chat, chatbot, all of that.

The second is just massive opportunity in machine learning like artificial intelligence, this is more of a data type play. I just think that we're aggregating so much data as an industry as a human race that that data starts to have a lot of power and scale and the improvement in ML, machine learning, and kind of from an arithmetic standpoint are just flying. The last five years have become really, really fast on it. You see some folks making great use out of this, mostly really really big companies like Google, Amazon stuff like that. I think the democratization of machine learning and big data is probably coming and I'm really excited to see what that means for marketers, salespeople, service people, all of that. That's number two.

And then the third that I think is interesting as I said in my video thing before, is one to one video. I'm a big fan of what folks like Woom are doing in terms of one to one video. Wistia has a product like this, Vider as one too. It's a little bit more incremental than those other two examples that I gave but in a lot of ways, video can be a real way to reach out to somebody to create a human connection, to see somebody's face, to see what's in the background of them. We're encouraging people at HubSpot to have more video calls with their clients right, send more video voicemails as opposed to just normal voicemail. I think there's a lot in there that can be very exciting from a human standpoint and also from an analytical and kind of content standpoint too.

Doug: Yeah. That's really interesting. I mean because I was just at been at a couple of events this year. I was speaking at the new media summit in San Diego with a group of podcasters and it's just a different connection when you meet people face to face or you see them. So often the question is when we were going to set up a call, somebody goes is it video or audio? You seem more people coming around to the video side. I remember a speaker, a guy by the name of Johnny Dumas, talking about doing stuff that's not scalable a couple of years ago and I just started using that in my social space by reaching out and connecting and just seen huge ROY where you win people over to your company to your brand that become advocates and continually share you've stuff out just because you've done some stuff like you said the video is not scalable but it's a deeper connection with an individual like one person at a time.

Michael: Yeah. I mean marketers are rightfully obsessed with the scale, right. Try to scale yourself, try to scale your business all of that. The really special thing about things that aren't scalable is that other people aren't doing them. The scalable stuff is what everybody is doing because it's scalable right? So when you break ranks with that and you start to do something un-scalable like record custom videos for each one of your prospects that you're calling or something that likes. You're creating a lot more emotional impact on the other end of the line and man that can just have really outsized business results that outweigh the fact that oh it's not “scalable”, right? Then of course technology, the market progress will continue and some point what's not scalable today will become scalable in the future and the problem will solve itself.

Doug: Well it depends what your definition of scalable, unscalable is. Where you just added a team member that's going to be doing the short videos for us that one to two-minute videos. So in that sense, I mean my only obligation will really be to do the video then I'm hands-off, everything else is done for me by a team.

Michael: Yeah, that's awesome. That's something that's actually pretty scalable nowadays which is super cool.

Doug: Yep. The world is moving at a pretty fast pace.

Michael: Yeah. I just get excited by all of it and I would just encourage the listeners to think about all of the things that excite you in your industry, technologies that you see, the movements that are happening and just think critically about which ones are going to have impact and on what timeframe are they going to have impact.

We've talked to a ton of people who are super excited about bots for instance, like chatbots and we say cool, what do you want to do with it? And they say I don't know, I just want a bot. I'm like well okay. So that's not helpful and we want to have this conversation with them about what does this mean to you? Do your customers want that type of interaction and often they are like, no, of course, they don't but I think it's cool. We're like okay, well that's not something that's going to add a whole lot of value to your business, that's just a shiny thing. So I think that there's a little bit kind of I advocate for kind of a critical approach to innovation where you need process it through kind of the system and say all right what can this do for me.

Doug: Yeah. What can it do for your customer and just because it's good for you or your customer service staff and not good for your customers is maybe not a great way to implement a new product.

Michael: Yeah. I think experimentation is great but when you roll something out at scale, for everybody, you really want it to be the right thing and I think experimenting with new technologies is awesome to understand what it can do for you. But temper your excitement a little bit sometimes because you read a really cool article in Wired Magazine about a new thing.

Doug: Yeah. We do that all the time. The shiny new object, it's like a squirrel, he's gone, he's gone someplace else now. So, it's like what did you do that for.

In terms of HubSpot, do you want to share an overview with us on how HubSpot helps your customers achieve the goals that you just shared with us today?

Michael: Yeah. Sure. So we are a software company, right. A lot of the listeners say probably know HubSpot as a blog and all this and that's a lot of free stuff that we put out because we want to be helpful in the marketplace. But really what we do is make software to help small, medium sized businesses grow. It's our belief that the modern customer, the modern human being, really wants to interact with businesses in a kind of contextual way with a lot of content and have real human experiences and that's a way to differentiate yourself in a small, medium-sized business.

Our software is usually designed from the ground up to know your customers, put all their data in there all in one place, enable you to work with them across marketing sales and service functions all on equal footing to make great experiences, to really delight your customers, to attract new customers, engage with folks even better. That's sort of what we do and the ethos behind why we do it.

Doug: That was a pretty async overview of what you guys do.

Michael: Yeah. I mean it's tricky when you're kind of a broad software company and we're somewhat recently public and all of that, so it's nice to have a philosophical backing so I know we can back on that as opposed to saying, here are the 45 features we launched last week.

Doug: That's funny. So where's the best place for people to track you down Michael?

Michael: Yeah. So I do work at HubSpot at our core with our marketers in some ways. So I would say find me on Twitter, find me on LinkedIn. On Twitter, I am @redbord my last name R-E-D-B-O-R-D. Find me on LinkedIn, under my normal name. Go on the blog, which I don't update very often which is I love this day to be a start of a conversation with a lot of you guys and not the end and to continue to talk about how customers can help you grow.

Doug: Well that's awesome. One more question and I'll let you get back to making sure your customers are super satisfied and happy.

Who is one guest that you think I absolutely have to have on my podcast?

Michael: Interesting. Let's see. Man, there's actually a bunch of people that come to mind here. I think another Boston based person that is really exceptional and thinks a little like us but also a little bit differently is a guy named Dave Gayhurst from a company called Drift. He I think is probably a nice counterpoint to even the conversation we had today because I think he would push a lot harder on some of the innovation stuff, some of the bot stuff, some of the futurism. But I think he'd be a cool counterpoint in a lot of ways to the stuff that I had to say.

Doug: Well excellent I will look him up and track him down. We had a great time in your city when we were down a few years ago for a Stanley Cup Finals.

Michael: Oh yeah.

Doug: Enjoyed some good food and some good drinks and just enjoyed the community. It was an awesome trip.

Michael: Glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully, we can see you over at our inbound conference in September too that's like 20 something thousand people. We have a great time, we also work a lot. There's a lot of talks and everything. That's a really cool event.

Doug: Awesome, well thanks so much for the invitation. Make sure that someone on your team forwards me the information so we can take a look as see how that works with our schedule.

Michael: I'll send it to you myself.

Doug: There you go. Well, thanks so much, Michael. Thanks, listeners for tuning in, I hope you pulled some of the value nuggets out of today's podcast and realize that you may want to take a deeper look at your existing customers and what your service level is. Let's hope that you fall into the category of eight, you're one of the people that your customers love your service and not the 80%. So I would encourage you to tune back in, head over to the blog, this will be transcribed. The show notes will be up. I'll make sure all of Michael's links are there and I look forward to serving you in the next episode. So thanks for tuning in.

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With Michael Redbord from HubSpot. Get honest and real with yourself about your company's customer experience

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