#98: Customer Experience Is The New Marketing
DC: Amazing. What's going on inaudible he's pointing at inaudible.
DG: She's back.
Julie: What do you do with your hands? Can I hold my mic stand?
DC: We're always moving around. See, I drink water. I have an apple.
DG: Amy, I put away my analogy. It's gone.
DG: Because Dan inaudible told me this too. Every shot, he would do a video, I have my water bottle in every shot.
Julie: You're hydrated.
DC: Got to stay hydrated.
Julie: I am in fact really afraid of this knocking over something electric. I might move it.
DC: See, maybe they'll have one of those crosstalk.
DG: It would be the crosstalk thing you could do.
Male: Nobody gave me one of them.
Julie: Just ask.
Amy: You have one, I got one.
DC: See, Amy got one.
DG: All right. So we're here. This is happening.
DC: We're here. This is happening.
DG: This is happening.
DC: I'm excited. This is in fact, this is the first time I've stepped foot in this room.
DG: Wow. That makes it, see-
DC: Proper. Proper.
DG: That's respect.
DC: Some people around here don't respect it.
DG: Yeah. We've come in here, there's pizza in here.
DC: Dirty the studio.
DG: There's a air mattress.
DC: Yeah, crosstalk.
Julie: That's horrifying.
DC: So do we start-
Julie: True startup life.
DG: All right. DC.
DC: I have a confession to make.
Julie: You do?
DC: Yeah. Are you ready?
DG: I'm nervous.
Julie: I am too.
DG: This is when I always get nervous.
Julie: I didn't know what to expect. And I guess this is what I should expect.
DG: We are recording.
DC: Confession time. So, you're not going to believe this. You ready?
DG: You prepared for this.
DC: Actually the opposite. I have not prepared. I didn't prepare anything for today.
DG: Okay. What's the confession?
DC: That's it.
DG: That was your confession?
DG: Don't worry, I prepared.
Julie: That's how I thought this rolled.
DG: There's a mystery voice on the podcast right now. I could do the introduction, but DC, I think it's only right if you do this, you do the introduction.
DG: I'll take us from there.
DC: You'll take us from there?
DC: So joining us today, for this podcast here, is an OG, a legend. Her name is Julie Hogan. That's not her name when I first met her. So we used to work together at a company we will not name before this one. Actually it was called HubSpot. And so Julie, we worked together there and she worked in what we called, we didn't call it CS before, we called it account management.
Julie: Account management.
DC: Back then.
Julie: That's right.
DC: Phenom lose through the ranks and ended up being VP of customer success in global services until she joined Drift about less than a month ago here.
DG: 21 days?
Julie: That's right. 22.
DG: 22 days.
DC: 22 days on the job. And she is helping us become the most customer- centric company in the world.
DG: I love it. I love it because the first thing Julie did was like, there needs to be more customer faces. More customer faces. Now they're everywhere. We got them everywhere.
Julie: Love it. Love it.
DG: All right. So, well, this is awesome.
Julie: Thanks for the intro. Very nice. Thanks.
DG: It's awesome to have you here.
DC: She's done a lot more than that.
DG: She's done a lot more than that, but we... DC was like, we got to have Julia on the podcast, obviously, because you're the real deal. But because so many things that are in your world kind of map into what we're talking about today, so we'll dig into customer success, but you said something interesting, which actually led to this, and that's why we're going to do this episode, which is about, you said something like everything you learned about customer success and helping customers, you learned from working inin a restaurant, or in the hospitality industry.
Julie: Yes. Yes. It's true.
DG: So I think that's the best place to just dive right in. Let's tell that story.
Julie: Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. So it's funny because I think often when you hire people into customer success, account management, SAS, you immediately go for tradition. So you immediately look through resume and say, okay, where did they go to school? What did they major in? Did they rise through the ranks at a certain company?
DG: Not just customer service, every role we have this conversation, yep.
Julie: Everywhere, right? Everywhere. And the reality is when you service people, you learn those skills so many other places. And it let's even talk about our day to day life in an office. In SAS, how often do you see customers?
DC: Not often.
Julie: We don't see a ton of them. We invite them in on rare events. But when you work at a hotel, when you work at a bar, when you work at a restaurant, when you work in service to others, you are around people you're servicing and serving all day long. And you just learn the muscle group, which is how do you predict, how to proactively understand what those things are going to be that they need. And you learn how to respond in real time. And so I have found it really valuable to hire people who have a background in hospitality or have had some sort of experience, whether it was a summer working as a bartender. And also too, what I find interesting people are embarrassed to bring up those types of things in work interviews. They call this like a work interview. They're like, oh well, I had an experience during this, but that doesn't count because this is corporate. I'm like, what are you talking about? Let's dig into that. And those have been some of the best conversations I've had with people when we've interviewed.
DG: Yeah, we talked about that in the original hiring checklist. It's like, had to have had some type of shitty job or other job. Like that's a huge, why do you care about that?
DC: Definitely. Well, I care about it for lots of reasons. It gives you context, right? And so in coming into this kind of environment, which is super important, but one thing that Julie mentioned that I want to double click on is like this whole hospitality and service industry thing, which is one of the many things that I obsess about that we think alike on. Because I've read books around... I've never been in the hospitality service industry. FYI. But I've been-
DG: I don't know if you'd be a good...
DC: Why is that?
DG: I don't know.
Julie: That could be a really fun, like change the boss day, and throw you in to oversee-
DC: Wait, wait, what are you trying to say?
DG: I was just picturing like DC at the hotel lobby, like checking somebody in.
DC: Oh man.
Julie: The greeter.
DC: The greeter.
DG: Yeah the greeter. The greeter.
DC: I don't know if I could pull that off either.
DG: But isn't there a book, Zingerman's guide to customer service.
Julie: Yes. Yes.
DC: We talked about Zingerman's Guide to Service, Zingerman's family of businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There's also the Danny Meyers book, which is shake shack kind of guy. So I've read a bunch of this, the Ritz Carlton book. There's a bunch of those books that I've kind of obsessed over the years inaudible, because to me the most, one of the most fascinating experiences that I can have as a person is when you encounter amazing service somewhere. And why is it amazing? Because it's so rare, it rarely happens. And then it's also amazing when you look at it in the context of actually building things and knowing how companies work and people work that a company or a thing or an experience can be repeated every day is almost magical if you can actually pull that off.
DG: Yeah. We were talking about this the other day, like on a text thread. And we started talking about Apple and a couple of other examples, but I think of going to Whole Foods and you go to any aisle in any section, somebody, the guy at Whole Foods might be unpacking a ton of salmon, and you walk up to him, you're like, oh, do you have lotion here? And he's like, yeah, hold on, and he walks you all the way up and down around the store. So that, that's not because he's a nice guy.
DC: He may be a nice guy.
Julie: He might, he probably is.
DC: He may be a nice guy, but-
Julie: They probably hire for that.
DC: But that was something that is in onboarding, in training, that is a core value of that culture. That's where that piece comes from.
Julie: I think the thing that's really important as well, it doesn't matter what the role is. So the first week I was here, we do something at drift called lunch and learns. And we brought in the head of patient experience at children's hospital in Boston. And that's a hospital that nobody ever wants to have to go to when you have kids. And so I happen to have two little boys and everybody's fine, but we had to be there this summer. And I was floored by, from parking our car, to going through registration, to getting in and having to get labs done to going in, every single person we met along the way, it was incredible. And it struck that in my mind, I was like, I don't care which person is the doctor. And that's ultimately the person who's going to be servicing me. care about the experience along the way, because it's sort of a crummy place to be. And they just make you feel really, really great. And she came in and talked to us. We asked her, we're like, hey, we know children's hospital is very different than being at a SAS software company, but let's talk about the things that you value in the way in which you hire people and the way in which you then hold people accountable to those things and executing against those things. And we had a really great conversation. She was here for a little over an hour, and we couldn't believe how much of an overlap there was. In fact, part of their nurses, they call it a warm handoff. So the handoff of a patient from one nurse to another, some of the things she taught us, we're now implementing into our own strategy-
DC: That's amazing.
Julie: ...from sales handoff to customer success handoff, when somebody buys.
DG: The crazy part about this is this is everything that we talk about from a business and marketing perspective. Okay, granted, it's a hospital, right? Nobody's proactively marketing the patient experience, but think about it, right? You went there this summer. You had such a good experience. You invited her to come talk to our team. You've now telling this on a podcast that reaches thousands of people. This probably isn't the only time you've ever had this conversation, right? This is like something that we talk about all the time where we talk about customer experience is the new marketing. But DC, here's my question for you, which is, we sell software online. Who cares?
DC: Who cares about that?
DG: Yeah, who cares. Everyone, whatever, you can buy. Why does that matter? Why is that something that you care so much about that that we've invested in it so much, and you talk about it almost daily?
DC: That's because software is not enough anymore. Right? Who cares about software? We don't sell software. We sell the result that you get from using the software, and the customer at the end of the day, doesn't care if the result came from software or from a person, or from training or from a blog post or from whatever it came from, they don't care how it actually got there. They're buying the results. They're not buying the software. And I think that's where we've lost our way for too long in focusing on the tool and not the result, not the superpower that you get from using the tool.
Julie: They want the hole. They don't want our drill.
DC: Totally, totally crosstalk.
DG: So we had Greg Danes in-
DC: What do they call him? The Churn Doctor?
Julie: The Churn Doctor.
DG: The Churn Doctor. He's great.
DC: Churn Doctor.
Julie: I called him my churn crush.
DG: Look him up. Google Greg Danes.
Julie: Churn is not a sexy thing, but when you're in customer success, to find people who get it, who you can like geek out and talk about it. He totally, he loves it. He's probably borderline horrified of me because of how obsessed I am with him.
DC: That's awesome.
Julie: But he gets it. He sees it, he gets it. And the thing that Greg did, which was so incredible, he came and shared a lot of his feedback with us. He shared that you can't focus on the reasons why customers cancel. Yes, you have to understand it. And it has to be a part of the business that you investigate, but digging into your customers who see the most success, why they're successful and why they bought you in the first place. It usually goes back to service and the experience they had with you and your ability to influence and support them and help them get the hole that they bought the drill to achieve in the first place.
DC: Yep, so underrated. I don't know, it's common sense when we say it out loud, it just sounds so obvious. But then no one does it. No one does this. No one focuses on service. No one focuses on brand. No one focuses on the experience, but when we all say it and talk about it here out loud, it's obvious to everyone that this is what we need to do.
DG: Okay, so this is obvious, right? But nobody does it. How does somebody like you who runs a customer success team, and this is something that you've been doing for a while now, how do you actually make that work? Because you can't just stand up in front of a team and be like, we're going to treat people like that shit is obvious. We're going to treat people the right way. We're going to be nice. You know, we're going to be customer first. Like how do you actually go and live that, and make that part of the company?
Julie: Yeah. So I think you just said something right there, which I think is in fact the root of the problem that most companies have, which is you end up putting customer experience and employee experience in two different categories. So you end up labeling and firsting things. So you make this declaration and you put up wiki pages and you have all these branded programs around being customer first. And then you tweet things like that. You're like, we're customer first. Or you say, we're employee first. Then all of a sudden you have this strange juxtaposition of two things that matter most to your business. And it's a little bit of a chicken and egg, right? You can't have great customers without having great employees. You also can't have great employees without having great customers. So why put any one of those things first?
DG: It's hard to give a good customer experience if everyone at work hates what they're doing.
Julie: Exactly. Exactly. So why are we a culture that's so obsessed with putting one of these things first and instead really talking about the experience? So your experience with direct, whether you're an employee or whether you're a customer is one where we want there to be core values that we live by, that we execute against. And you experience both as an employee and as a customer. And then you just start doing it. I think that's part of the other problem as well. Often you put so much focus into the project plan and the process around it. You made a comment earlier about faces, right? So I adore both of you and you know, I have an affinity for faces of Dave's anyway.
DG: Come on you don't have to say it.
Julie: My husband's name is Dave, my first son's name is Dave, but we see your face and DC's face everywhere. So my first week here, yeah, on the mug, it's everywhere. But that is, if we truly-
DC: I got to get a better looking face.
DG: Yeah crosstalk.
Julie: ...if we truly are the company where-
DG: Yeah, a hundred percent.
Julie: ...our customers' brands are there, let's get our customer's faces out there. So we just started doing it. We just started putting the faces of our customers, of their logos. We had a customer event last week and we had people coming in and signing the autograph wall. And so the idea is, let's not just talk about it, let's live it. Let's bring our customers' brands to life and infuse the office with that. And you know, we're a couple of weeks in, and I'm probably still on the euphoric high of a new job and being really excited. But I do feel like that's made it real because we're not just talking about it, we're doing it and we're surrounding ourselves with our customers. I don't know DC, what do you think?
DC: I think a couple of things. Good news, all of our customers look better than DG and I.
DG: Fact, fact, fact.
Julie: This is true. This is true.
DC: Hold on, hold on, hold on.
Julie: I kid, I kid. I kid.
DC: Much better looking than either of us.
DG: No but seriously.
DC: So we should put them on a mug. But I think it's true. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in kind of, even though we think about this so much, it's easy to get wrapped up in what we're doing every day and lose sight of being the closest to the customer. And one thing we talk about all the time within the company is that it is that closeness and that proximity to the customer that we cannot lose because that is one of our fundamental differences and advantages as a company. But even though we think that, and we believe it, and it is our religion, it is easy to lose every day.
DG: Especially because like we all will live in... So we think a lot about, at Drift, we're not building a SAS business, right. We're building a brand. But we are in a SAS industry. And so we all read a bunch of SAS blogs and podcasts and listen to that type of stuff. And it is crazy because when you think about customer experience and churn in the SAS world, it's all Salesforce, it's all spreadsheets, it's all, all metrics, right? But like what you guys are both hitting on is almost the stuff that doesn't scale. Almost the one- to- one actual real relationships. That is the most important piece of this.
Julie: In it doesn't scale. But I also think it doesn't scale because nobody's tried to really do it. We've been so... The blogs you read and the other companies you look at, I call it the tradition of customer success or the tradition of SAS economics, where when you hear any company talk about their onboarding experience, it all uses the same language. Usually too, if you do a Google search for SAS onboarding experience, so you will see some variation of Align, into perpetuity and little milestone markers, and then words like onboarding, implementation, engagement, handoff, kickoff. And instead of thinking about how do we make this experience better, we always try to improve the process. And then suddenly we're tied to this heavy process we've built, we've then built all of the reporting that backs into that process and our customers are no longer a customer who pays us a certain amount of money with a certain amount of potential who's in this industry who has these needs. Our customer is this customer who represents X number of dollars who's in this orange and yellow color because their usage is this. And that's how we define our work. An example I can share too is thinking customer experience, as opposed to process, I had a conversation with a sales rep and a CSN the other day who said, hey, we really need to fix our process around kickoff call notes. And I was like, ooh, that sounds really not fun. What do we mean by that? And what I said, I was like, I'm going to challenge you to have this conversation without trying to back it into a process that already exists. What are we trying to solve for, for the customer? Forget about who's supposed to own this data that goes into this field in Salesforce, but what are we trying to do? And where we landed by removing the tradition of backing things into process was this stuff should in fact be automated in the early stages of a customer closing with us. Why not bring that information there and rethink the experience as opposed to backing this into our process? So now we're in the process of making something better for our customers, instead of thinking through it, in terms of the rules we've created for ourselves.
DC: That's exactly it. You talked about the Whole Foods experience. I always use the apple in the store.
DG: I was going to ask you to tell us, I want you to tell this story. I want you to bring this to light.
DC: Because I only thought about it because you mentioned things that don't scale. inaudible say, and I always use that experience as like, wow, that's the Whole Foods experience, and the Apple experience is awesome because at the end of the day, when you walk into the retail store, you have this relationship, you have a connection, you have this conversation, with someone that helps you get from point A to point B, and gives you a great experience. And I say, that that has to be what the future looks like, because that is what we value. And, and the pushback that we always get in, let's say the SAS industry specifically is like, well, that doesn't scale. It's easy for Apple to do it. They have a lot of money. We can't do that. We don't have the resources, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And my point is always that, that they're missing the point. That Apple is a monopoly. Apple has the greatest product in the world in their category. Apple has one of the best brands in the entire world. And they are despite all of that, which almost nobody else on earth has all of those attributes, they are investing heavily in this magical experience that we all talk about. And so if you're any other company in the world that doesn't have the best product, does not have a monopoly, and does not have the greatest brand in the world, then you better be doing a way better job than they are doing at that in- store kind of experience whether it's in- store or it's your website than they are because you're going to need to, to survive in this new world.
DG: If you're one of those companies, every interaction should feel like that because you need every inch and every help you can get.
DC: Totally. And you should do what Julie just said, which is work backwards and say, instead of mapping into, it doesn't scale with our process today, we say, well, forget our process today. How do we start from that experience that we want? And then build a process around that.
DG: That was even like something crazy that was in the really early days of Drift that people couldn't believe, which is like, wait, everyone at the company does customer support and talks to every customer? Yeah. At this stage, what else do we have? How else are we going to learn?
DC: We still do it today.
DG: We still do it.
DG: Everybody does it today. But I think that's an example of people where like, how do you guys have the time? And it's like, what is more important than talking to the... If there's five people interested in your business, you better go know those five inside and out. Now there's 10. Now there's 50. Now there's a hundred. That's the most important thing you could do.
Julie: And I love this idea too, because that's another, I feel like a buzz word and buzz conversation that comes around so much.
DG: Talk to your customers?
Julie: Oh no. Does it scale? Does it scale?
DG: It's a cop out.
Julie: It is.
DG: People don't want to know.
Julie: Thank you. Yes it is. But I think, you know when you go to a building site, they're building a new apartment building or they're doing something and they have dig safe, so they have dig safe and they have OSHA and they're like, all right, we just have to make sure everything's in place. Imagine we, as we hit the next milestones of growth, we talk about scale safe. So the idea is, hey, we know this thing that worked really, really well when we were 60 people and we were 70 people. It probably isn't going to work exactly like this when we hit a hundred, but let's start talking about the feeling it gave us and the values had attached to it and how we can scale with it. So I do think like we can't keep ourselves in thinking that every single thing we do today is going to work when we hit a hundred, when we hit 500, when we hit a thousand. But I do think when you go so fast, you have to take moments and say, are people still connected to the reason why we did this thing? And how does it work in the next level? And that's how you scale the right way.
DG: I love it. What else? What do you want to finish with? We want to talk about?
DC: What's your closer?
Julie: My closer?
DG: I got a lot. I got a lot of closers.
Julie: All right, I don't know.
DG: I want to hear, okay. This is an interesting perspective. You're 20, 21 days...
Julie: I thought you were going to say I'm 21.
Julie: I'm like I appreciate that. Thank you.
DG: You're 21. You're 21, you're at 21.
DC: I think DHD is 21.
DG: You're 21?
DG: Is that a fact? 21.
DC: See that?
DG: She said 21.
Julie: Plus a few more. But hey, I'll take it.
DG: What have you learned? What's been, from the outside in, what's something that's different about Drift than you thought?
Julie: Yeah. So seeing these things come to life so quickly, I think the, we talk a lot about customers and being customer centric, and what's been really cool is to sit on the floor, a great experience we had the other day was a customer came in, shared with us that something was broken, and within a matter of an hour, before that customer left, we had triaged it in real time, had a conversation with product, brought it back to the customer and fixed it. We didn't say-
DG: Yeah. How is that going to scale though?
Julie: Exactly. But think about that feeling, right? Think about that feeling.
Julie: How do you take that when we are so much bigger and the focus on speed, the focus on urgency, that to me, so being able to do that was incredible. And just seeing the partnership and alignment. It wasn't, hey, you need to file it this way. Please follow the due process. It was, let's figure it out. The customer's here. Let's just do it. And the speed. We talk a lot about speed. I call it the Drift pace. That's a real thing.
DC: We're going to call it that. Trademark.
DG: The Drift pace.
DC: The Drift pace.
DG: How would you describe the Drift pace?
DC: DG don't lead her.
DG: I'm not, I'm not leading. I'm curious. I want to know. Because have a word.
Julie: You have a word?
Julie: All right. So I'll describe it, and then we'll see if it backs into your word. I think of it as every single one of us should think like engineers in a certain way. So in services-
DC: Well DG can't do that.
Julie: Oh yeah yeah. But in services, we typically operate in project plans and program management. But instead we, and I think the reason why we've been able to move so quickly in customer success is we're adopting the thought of sprints and micro sprints and just saying, here's the thing we need to move the needle on. Here are the actions that have to happen. And every single day, we're held accountable to making progress and making movement and doing it. And so I think where our co- founders are from the engineering and product world, that is like part of the fabric of the company, which is really cool to see. So that's been interesting and fun. And I like fast. So I think I jumped on the right train.
DC: The right train.
Julie: I think so.
DC: That's a fact. What's the word?
Julie: What's your word?
DC: That's going to put that on the t- shirt. Is that a word for describe Drift, or is that a word to describe me?
Julie: I mean...
DG: It's both. It's both. No, but-
DC: DG's inaudible better.
DG: But I've been reading a lot about Apple, right? Not on the surface level. Everybody knows Apple's amazing, but really digging into their marketing. I'm looking at their press releases, for example. Every week they have something. New phone, case studies, new store, this thing, that thing. And I think like we live in this world of, especially if we are customer driven, like it's so important to show that. And so I think that the relentlessness isn't a negative thing. It's a positive thing. And so we're always moving the ball forward. Yes, we just did hyper- growth. Boom. Next two weeks, we launched a product. Two weeks after that, we did something else. Two weeks after that, we did something. I think that's just such an important piece of what we're doing, especially because we're writing the new playbook. If we're going to rewrite the playbook for how marketing and sales gets done today, you can't just sit back and like, yeah you know, in a couple of months we'll do this. In a couple of months we do that. And the other thing is we don't know enough. So you have to go fast in order to continue to learn.
Julie: I think the piece that makes it work with Apple and the thing that we'll continue to focus on as well is Apple comes out with products that people want. And sometimes things that you didn't even realize you needed, where we need to be relentless, continue to bring out extraordinary things that solve the problems our customers are telling us they have. And so it kind of ties everything back to the services industry. When I was waitressing, bartending, I was a function server at a hotel, and one of the best pieces of advice I got, the woman who was the head waitress for weddings. We would go into the bridal suite and she shared with me the first day I did her wedding. She said, figure out who's in charge, so you start to watch people behave, and you have to figure out who's calling the shots, and figure out what they're going to need before they tell you. And this will go well. And it literally, that piece of advice, that's how you drive service. That's how you drive service. That's how you build products, because you have to build that muscle group to be able to watch and understand and anticipate and know what's going to happen. And that sense of surprise and delight that comes from being able to anticipate. And you get that by listening and understanding and talking and having these conversations.
DC: I love it. Thank you for dropping the heat on seeking wisdom.
Julie: Hey, thanks for inviting me.
DG: Won't be be the first time.
DC: It won't be the last time.
DG: It won't be the first time.
DC: No, it won't be the last time. What's going on? He's from crosstalk.
DG: That's the same thing.
DC: No, it's not. It's definitely not the same thing. People please correct him. All right.
Julie: This will be my first time. It won't be my last, I hope.
DG: I'm sorry.
DC: So I need everyone to open up that little app called Apple Podcasts, or if you like, what?
DG: Does Julie, do you know how many stars? Do you know how many stars we get?
Julie: We want five, right?
DC: We go for six stars.
Julie: Just kidding. We want six.
DG: I thought that would have been part of the interview process, but...
Julie: All right. Do I still have a job?
DC: Yeah, yeah, SoundCloud, whatever you use, open it up. Leave that six star review. Apple keeps hating on us so they only allow five stars, but you put in six. If seven.
Julie: The one ding on their customer experience.
DC: Yeah, that's the one thing. And we leave a little shout out there for Julie. Tell us how you liked Julie. And I need you. We've started a new campaign. So I need you to write these words. DHD, [ Nomahs 00:27: 19 ]. It's time to come back, stop messing around. Let's focus on Drift. Let's go.
DC: So everyone write those words.
DG: For every Nomahs review that you email-
DC: We'd get an extra day.
DG: That you email to DG at Drift, I'll send you a t- shirt.
DC: Let's go. Let's get it. Shout out to Amy running the studios. Let's get it done. Six stars only, five stars if you have to. See ya.
DG: See ya.
Julie: Bye everybody.