Q&A with HubSpot’s Head of Service: Why is authentic service so important when creating positive customer experiences?

Customer expectations today are higher than ever. In fact, 88% of customer service professionals agree that customers have higher expectations than in the past, and as a result, customer service teams are facing unprecedented pressure. 50% of service leaders cited not having enough time in their day as their top challenge. Generic, inflexible customer service experiences leave customers feeling unseen and uncared for when they need help the most. Not only does this lead to lower customer satisfaction, but it can also impact the bottom line.

All of this is why HubSpot launched Service Hub, customer service software that enables companies to prioritize the customer experience with an easy-to-use and connected platform that delivers authentic service, back in 2018. Service Hub filled an important gap in the HubSpot product line, which originally included marketing and sales. We’ve steadily expanded the functionality of the product over the past three years, and today, we’re excited to relaunch Service Hub with even more new features that allow companies to deepen relationships while driving efficiency for their teams and connectivity with the rest of the front office. With Service Hub, companies finally have a full view of all of their customers’ front office interactions.

We’re here today with our head of Service Hub, Poorvi Shrivastav, who will walk us through why optimizing the customer experience is so critical and how Service Hub is helping companies embrace that competitive advantage.

Q&A

Let’s start with a quick introduction. Poorvi, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what led you to your current role at HubSpot?

Yes, of course! As General Manager and VP of Product for Service Hub, I am focused on finding ways to deliver remarkable solutions for customers and driving growth through strong, innovative products. Customer service has been an influential part of my career from the very beginning. After the 2008 financial crisis, I was presented with an opportunity to work in customer service. In that role, I learned about the importance of balancing empathy with outcomes, or in other words, how to understand a customer’s sentiments while still efficiently resolving their problems.

As it turns out, those skills would lay the foundation for my entire career. When I rose up into a leadership role, I learned the importance of providing authentic service and how it can be the biggest differentiator — and the biggest distractor — for customers. I joined HubSpot in August of 2021, and have since been prioritizing this concept of authentic service.

It seems like Service Hub has been working for customers thus far — why the relaunch?

A longstanding problem within service is a feeling of generic, inflexible experiences that take too long and fail to directly solve the unique problem a customer faces. This can look like many different things in practice — generic messages, long holds, repeat details requests, and feeling like a number, not a person — and ultimately a poor customer experience. Today, customer service is seen as a reactive, point-in-time engagement. Service professionals spend so much time working in siloed systems with disjointed channels, which creates tons of inefficiencies.

We originally launched Service Hub in 2018 to solve this and have expanded the functionality over the years to meet the needs of our customers. Today’s relaunch adds even more new features to help companies enhance the customer experience and provide high-quality service. We believe in growing better, so most of the new functionality is aimed at making it easier for reps and managers to do their jobs. When teams have a shared understanding of their customers, they are better enabled to deliver more authentic and connected service.

What is authentic service, and why is it important?

Providing authentic customer service means providing customer service when, where and how customers want it most. Customers want timely, transparent and effective resolutions. We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of being tied up on hold for far too long, to then only be transferred to another, unhelpful department, and then left with no solution and ultimately a frustrating experience that weakens your relationship with that business.

By providing timely, transparent and effective resolutions across channels — like live chat, email, phone and knowledge base — that connect with one another, Service Hub introduces genuine human connection across channels, agency and choice. This ultimately results in consistent positive experiences powered by tools like snippets, conversational intelligence, and playbooks that are shared across marketing, sales and service teams.

But why is this so important? Well, more than half of customer service professionals consider “proactive customer service” as their primary responsibility. Authentic service is proactive service — and companies doing it right recognize this. Reactive customer service will always leave customers wanting more. In fact, based on our most recent annual State of Service report, we found that customer service teams and leaders understand that listening to and understanding customers is critical to customer service organizations’ responsibilities and success. Making your customers feel heard and valued is one way your customer service teams can communicate appreciation toward your customers, even at times when they are feeling frustrated or in need of help. But to take this beyond the obvious customer-focused benefits, authentic service is ultimately a better business decision. Investing in customer service upfront today 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.

To me, it’s a no brainer — and Service Hub agrees. Put your customer first with an easy and connected platform that delivers authentic service, and ultimately retain and grow your customers.

How does Service Hub help customers deliver authentic service? Are there any specific tools that are now available with the relaunch that will make that easier?

Service Hub is differentiated by how it empowers authenticity in customer service, by prioritizing the customer experience and delivering authentic service when your customers need you most. By providing teams with tools that are both powerful and easy to use, Service Hub customers can spend less time wrestling with their tech stack and more time helping their customers. The tools are set up to help keep teams organized. A few of those ways include:

  • An easy to learn and use inbox, saving customers time and frustration. Individuals can customize their workspace views to have their most effective set up. Plus, they can leverage the entire HubSpot automation engine to trigger workflows and assignments that further improve efficiencies without sacrificing authenticity.
  • Additionally, as I mentioned before, it connects service teams to the rest of the front office — which is unfortunately uncommon. By doing so, customer service individuals can see the entire sales, marketing and service history of a customer, leading to richer, most contextualized interactions.
  • And finally, it prioritizes consistent, authentic interactions. With the ability to seamlessly switch channels, individuals can connect with customers via the channel that best suits the customer at any moment.

The recently expanded functionality within Service Hub added many tools to continue making it easier for customers to deliver authentic service.

  • With conversation APIs, Service Hub makes it flexible for teams to export and analyze data and interactions.
  • Teams can also use customer surveys to learn customer preferences, likes, and dislikes — then use this data to power every interaction.
  • Secure customer portals empower customers to gain ownership over their experience. Customer portals keep ticket conversations going between customers and reps, so issues are resolved faster.
  • Service level agreement (SLA) management tools help companies prioritize incoming requests based on importance to ensure that service teams are meeting customer expectations. With SLA management tools, teams can set working hours, build in automation, and report on attainment.
  • Mobile inboxes keep teams productive on the go with tools for collaboration and delivering support efficiently.
  • Inbound calling (beta) allows teams to receive calls to a mobile device and track inbound calls from customers right in the HubSpot CRM platform, making it easy to reach resolution with speed and authenticity with all the information you need in one place.

Can you talk about some of the successes companies have seen with Service Hub to date?

Leading with authenticity is more than just a feel-good concept. Service Hub users actually see better service outcomes. In fact, our very own customer support team has saved $2.3M in annual headcount, increased productivity 1.6x, and has helped our sales team generate $38 million in recurring revenue since 2019 by passing them leads. All of this began when we started leveraging Service Hub.

There are a number of HubSpot customers that have also seen huge success leveraging Service Hub. To shout out a few of the big wins so far, our customers have seen

  • +17% increase in their ticket close rate after 12 months
  • -2.4 hours less time that it takes customers to respond to a ticket, per each feature that they use
  • 107% increase in deal close rate when customers use both Service Hub AND Sales Hub

One customer in particular that stands out to me is Rock Content. Originally a Marketing Hub and Sales Hub customer, Rock Content eventually added Service Hub. They quickly realized the benefits of having everything on one platform — such as data-driven sales forecasting and greater productivity — which ultimately resulted in a 650% increase in revenue!

We recently hit the exciting milestone of having more than 1,000 apps in the HubSpot ecosystem. How are you thinking about building out the collection of service apps in the marketplace?

We know that a lot of customers come to us with existing tools that they want to integrate into HubSpot. That’s why we offer more than 120 service apps in the marketplace that support data management, ticketing, surveys, live chat, and more. Integrations become especially important for services that we know are important to our customers but might not be on our roadmap, like field service. We recently invested in a company called Zuper that is building a field service integration for Service Hub. We want our customers to be able to customize their usage of HubSpot to their unique needs, and attracting world-class partners to our app ecosystem is fundamental to enabling that flexibility.

Where do you see the customer service industry evolving in the next five years?

The last few years have continued to stretch and challenge businesses, customers and individuals. Customer expectations and experiences are ever-evolving and we’re seeing consistent preferences for self-service, personalization and real-time solutions. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become increasingly more comfortable with online decision making and purchases, and we’ve been seeing a significant long-term impact of that for quite some time now.

As I look ahead, I am optimistic about how the customer service industry is evolving — solving for the customer is at the forefront of people’s minds. Proactive customer service positively influences the customer journey. Now more than ever, it’s important to lead with empathy in how we connect with each other — both professionally and personally — as we navigate the new norms of a changing world. My hope is that companies will continue to lean into this concept, and focus their efforts on relationship building and flexible choices, integrated and shared information, and most importantly, authenticity.

Before we wrap up, we want to learn a bit more about you. When you’re not at work, what are you most likely doing?

Mentorship is extremely important to me. When I’m not working, I am typically spending time coaching aspiring leaders through a course I lead focused on product managers who want to learn the skills needed to become great people managers. I also spend a good amount of time mentoring and advising organizations in edtech and SaaS via platforms such as Switchboard and Mentors in Tech.

When I’m not mentoring, you can almost always find me with my husband, children and dogs at a winery or at the stable spending time with the horses.

What is the most recent book you read?

I am currently reading Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman, which brings the real stories of entrepreneurs and leaders who worked through organizational and market challenges to grow businesses. In addition to that, I am also re-reading Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me. Kaling is one of my favorite media personalities and I deeply connect with her satire and go-getter attitude.

Do you have a favorite wine? How did you discover it?

Yes, I love champagne or any sparkling cava or brut. I discovered my taste of fine wine and food pairings when we moved to California six years ago — there is so much to discover and admire in the wine country!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

My husband and I are often discussing our retirement strategy, and three locations come to mind…

  • The first is Gstaad in Switzerland — we spent a few months backpacking in Europe and loved everything about the peaceful peaks in Switzerland.
  • Princeville in Hawaii is another contender, as it matches our pace and we love the beach and countryside there.
  • And finally, any small village in England would suit us just fine — we love the quiet life.

That said, before we retire we also want to own and run a winery … So who knows if we’ll ever retire!

Learn more about the Service Hub relaunch here.

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