The link between revenue operations and customer experience

Last week, Hayes and I joined some members of HubSpot’s RevOps leadership team to talk about how customer experience and RevOps are intrinsically linked. We discussed what it means for revenue operations to be focused on customer experience. 

We’re passionate about this idea at Gradient Works, and something we think a lot about. But what does it mean for RevOps to put customer experience at the center of their work? What does a customers-in focus actually mean? It means that everyone on the revenue team - including and maybe even especially operations - needs to be focused on the customer. Let’s talk about how that looks in practice.  

1. Customer experience = revenue.

Your customer experience is directly correlated to revenue. The better your customer experience is, the more money your company will make.

Okay, yes, this is a bit of an oversimplification and there are a lot of ways to refine your revenue engine. But ultimately, if customers hate interacting with your product and your team, they’re going to leave. Your customer's experience with your company - every single one of their interactions with your website, your sales reps, your product, your advertising, etc... - will impact your customer's satisfaction with your company. The right team can help translate that satisfaction into revenue growth.  

Ultimately, time spent improving your customer experience is time spent improving your revenue engine. We've written more about this here. But to do that, you need everyone's favorite buzzword - alignment!

2. The revenue organization must be aligned horizontally, not in vertical silos.

To be successful, revenue leaders need a holistic view of the full customer lifecycle and the ability to orchestrate the entire revenue system. This includes everything from account assignment rules to forecasting, to brand positioning, to understanding the stops along the customer lifecycle, and so much more. 

Being stuck in vertical silos, such as new business vs. customer retention, is counterproductive. At best, it slows things down. At worst, it causes conflict and lost business. We all know we need alignment. In fact, we hear so much about organizational alignment that the term "alignment" is practically meaningless. But how many companies actually achieve this? How do those companies get there? 

That leads us to... 

3. Every company needs an Editor-in-Chief.

Someone has to be responsible for ensuring a consistent, excellent, seamless customer experience across every customer touchpoint. Who owns that at your company? It's typically some combination of the various revenue teams, and usually involves marketing and product, and probably lots more stakeholders. If you're small, it might be your CEO or one of your founders. You may even have a Chief Customer Officer or VP of CX or something similar. 

Of course, all teams should have a voice in the customer experience. But ultimately there has to be one party responsible for it. Someone to make the final call. Someone to edit and smooth out sharp edges, make sure your company is speaking with one voice. What if you had an Editor-in-Chief? 

I served as Editor-in-Chief of Union Metrics and it was such a useful role for us, especially as we scaled. From my position as a co-founder, I was uniquely positioned to influence teams across the organization, from sales and marketing to customer success and product development. This even shaped HR policies and organizational culture. But you don’t have to be a founder to do this role. You just need to know think horizontally and holistically. 

Why do this? You get better alignment across teams. You have more consistent messaging. You speak with one voice. You have a tie breaker and decision maker. You have fewer sharp edges, less to disrupt the customer experience. The EIC is responsible for the final product - not just your software or your newspaper, but the full customer experience, from awareness to acquisition to retention to advocacy. 

4. Everyone needs customer-facing experience.

Put the customer at the core of your operations decisions, instead of putting your tech or processes first. And make sure everyone on your ops team gets customer-facing experience, however you structure it.

Not everyone is cut out to be a sales rep or customer service expert. And that’s okay - it takes a particular set of skills and personality traits to be successful at one of those roles. But everyone is cut out to talk to customers, to learn from them, to really understand their concerns and challenges. 

How close is your ops team to the customer? Set up regular customer meetings, and be sure your ops team can sit in. Record customer calls and distribute them internally. Share UX and UI research data with the ops team. Have regular team meetings discussing voice of the customer. Just as you’d ensure your product team really knows your customer, you should ensure the same for your ops team.

6. Optimization is good, but compassionate optimization is better.

It's important to improve conversion rates along your customer lifecycle, but not at the expense of your customer. 

We’ve talked about this a lot, but it comes down to making sure your funnel is optimized but not annoying. A great place to start is to look at your company's website. How many CTAs are there on your home page? What do you really want a customer to do on your site? What does the customer want to do? (And most importantly, do those conflict or work together?) 

Think carefully about how you structure your sales motions and customer handoffs. For example, does your sales team think in terms of leads or accounts? Taking an accounts-level view puts the customer first, and makes it easier for everyone along the customer pipeline. Do everything you can to ensure every handoff along the customer lifecycle is smooth and clear. 

Again, this is trying to put the customer first, especially at the operations level. Your RevOps team is positioned well to make big impacts on how every prospect and customer perceive your company. Use your powers for good.