Tips, Tricks & Best Practices

JenBerenguer
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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I was recently working on a demo to present at a Customer Success Conference and realized that it's not always clear to our users the potential that HubSpot has to be used in a Customer Success Strategy, so here are some thoughts I wanted to share this week:
 
1- If you don't have a Customer Success Strategy, you need one
Combine a few factors like acquisition getting harder (and more expensive) and consumers not trusting businesses anymore, and you'll see that your existing customers are your best growth opportunity.
 
2- What does that even mean for Customer Success?
Focusing on Customer Success is about anticipating their challenges and questions and addressing those before they become a problem. So the key to a good Success strategy is information.
 
3- How can HubSpot help?
  • Starting on the most important part, you'll have your CRM - that's the core functionality to keep all the information about your customers. 
  • You'll then be able to leverage automation, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks when it comes to your customers and that you don't get overloaded with admin tasks.
  • Then finally, you'll keep the alignment between what you're marketing to your existing clients, your up-sell and cross-sell opportunities and your stellar service, providing a delightful end-to-end experience.
 
4- What does that look like in the tool?
  • Keep the comms going (but do track them) - Whether or not you have a dedicated Success team, engaging with your clients is a big factor to make them stay. Things like enrolling customers in sequences, tracking email exchange with the sales plug-in and using your meeting link will help you track those 1-to-1 interactions.  
  • Keep your Marketing going too and look for signs of opportunities - Are your customers clicking on CTAs, joining webinars, downloading new assets or even visiting some of your upgrade pages? Score them points, put them on lists or simply trigger internal notifications to explore these opportunities.
  • You can have a dedicated pipeline for renewals to work proactively on closing a new contract and use custom properties to measure achieved milestones. Tracking the level of stickiness was also a great idea suggested here at the community
  • Measure their sentiment - Use NPS surveys to get their feedback around your service, and act on them to improve bad experiences. You can also evaluate the number of tickets open and closed on a given time to search for product vulnerabilities.
  • Track the success of your Success team - Use reports and dedicated dashboards to show renewals won, NPS results, up-selling/cross-selling open deals, etc.
I hope this is helpful to set the scene on HubSpot for CS, but I'd love to hear how you're using HubSpot for customer Success too. 🙂
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Dan1
Solution
Guide

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Hi @JenBerenguer , 

 

Great points!! 

 

I used to head up a CS team back in 2017 and 2018 for another software company and we were big HubSpot Sales and Marketing users. I set up a renewals pipeline, which worked well with customer quarterly reviews, to make sure we didn't miss a beat. 

 

This post is a little dated but the workflows I put together still apply: 

 

https://community.hubspot.com/t5/Tips-Tricks-Best-Practices/How-to-handle-renewals-in-your-deal-pipe...

 

I hope this helps a few people. 

 

Kind Regards, 

 

Dan Currin 

 
Co-Founder 
 
OrgChartHub & GeoMapper named in the Top 30 HubSpot Apps 

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stuartbalcombe
Participant | Partenaire solutions
Participant | Partenaire solutions

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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How to run customer success in HubSpot (or is it even possible?) is a question we still hear a lot.

Especially when onboarding and customer success teams need to support a scaling business and start seeing churn increase overtime as customer needs get too complex for their manual and/or disconnected processes.

HubSpot might not be positioned as a common tool for onboarding and customer success but running those workflows in your CRM is great for a few reasons:

  1. Process. HubSpot has pipelines (both tickets and deals as you mentioned) specifically designed for moving customers through a defined process which provides critical reporting data and triggers for process automation.
  2. Communication. HubSpot being a CRM is designed to track customer activity, emails, and notes between all external stakeholders and internal teams. Reducing the need to ask customers for details previously covered in a previous call or email.
  3. Reporting. HubSpot has reporting capabilities built in making it possible to share key onboarding performance metrics with key stakeholders proactively or provide them with real-time access.
  4. Automation. HubSpot’s workflow builder and automation features help remove tedious and repetitive onboarding tasks from your team’s already overflowing plate.
  5. Data. Your CRM has all your customer contact records in one place and is probably integrated with the rest of your tech stack as a source of truth for all customer data (we do this via Hightouch to connect our Postgres database to HubSpot at Arrows).

I’ve laid out the playbook we use to run our onboarding and success processes at Arrows and why we chose to configure our CRM to support both onboarding and ongoing customer success instead of using a dedicated (but siloed) customer success platform.

What we’ll cover

  • How to build a repeatable system for handoffs from sales deals to onboarding
  • How to use HubSpot + Arrows to guide customers through the onboarding process
  • A system for engaging customers throughout the lifecycle to make renewals non-events.

The Hypothesis

A team building their onboarding and ongoing customer success process in a CRM tends to have less gaps in the experience for customers and maintains better visibility into performance.

Onboarding and success teams that build a well defined process will improve performance and their ability to scale.

What you’ll need

  • An understanding of the onboarding and ongoing success motions of your product.
  • Optional* A professional level HubSpot plan to run automated workflows.

1. Using pipelines for each stage of the customer journey

Pipelines in HubSpot (or any CRM) are designed specifically for purpose of moving a customer through a series of steps to reach a defined outcome. I would absolutely recommend using pipelines to map your customer journey vs adding onboarding data in custom properties on a contact or company record.The reason? Pipeline movements will always be timestamped making reporting much easier and you’ll have a visual way to see the progression of companies through onboarding and onwards to a successful renewal while quickly identifying bottlenecks along the way.

Sales

Your sales team is likely already using HubSpot deals to manage their pipeline. Running customer success in HubSpot doesn’t need to change anything about that setup, but understanding how deals move through the pipeline and how sales reports on their performance can be helpful for ensuring successful handoffs when deals are closed or providing assistance to get customers to the finish line.

We often see teams working with customers to lay out a success plan or map the steps to go live before deals are closed. Being in the same tool for success and sales makes this much smoother to understand customer context and find the information you need to stay informed.

Onboarding

Onboarding is the epitome of a process that should have a clear outcome and measure of success - that could be going live with your product but likely it will include some kind of measure of activation with your onboarding process being the steps you and your customers will take together to get there.

Having a dedicated onboarding pipeline that is separate from sales and ongoing success motions allows you and your team to focus on the incredibly important task of getting customers up and running and seeing value from your product to set them up for ongoing success.
Example onboarding pipelineExample onboarding pipeline

We wrote a complete guide on setting up HubSpot pipelines for onboarding including some common workflows and reporting.

Ongoing Success & Renewals

Using pipelines to manage ongoing success and renewals provides a really nice way to segment the customers you’re working with based on the data you have about them.

For example you could have stages in your pipeline for:

  • Active customers
  • Inactive customers
  • Customers with upcoming renewals in 30-60-90 days

These stages can then be filtered by the responsible CSM so any individual can get a high level picture of what work to prioritize.

This view also makes it easier to identify systemic issues or common challenges that make renewals more difficult so that they can be proactively addressed.

To make this view dynamic, you could configure workflows to automatically move customers between stages based on their usage in your product (and added to HubSpot as described below), properties updated by your CSMs or the status of their subscription tracked in HubSpot.

2. Configure your deals or tickets for customer success

One of the biggest advantages of running your customer success program in HubSpot is you are able to bring information about the customer from multiple places together in the same place your customer facing teams are likely already working.

Properties to include on your deals and tickets?
This will definitely depend on your product and sales motion but a few that I would definitely consider including both on the ticket record itself but also consider showing in a board view.

a) Next step: A text field with a short description of the next action to take for this customer to help them make progress - include whether this is on your team or the customer.

b) Goals/Success Metrics: A text field with a summary of what the customer is trying to achieve by using your product - this may be collected during sales discovery or in onboarding but keeping this easily accessible makes it easier to frame the work they need to do in the context of the goals they are trying to achieve.

c) Persona: A dropdown field which could be populated when they sign up or selected manually that shows which persona they are (and can be used to segment educational content, onboarding plan, level of support etc).

d) Target Date: If you have a go live date or an end date for your onboarding plan keeping it accessible in a structured field is helpful for reporting and creating calculated actions relative to it. Eg Escalating customers that have not completed specific steps and are within X days of the target date. e) Renewal Date: This is helpful to set either via workflow when the deal/ticket is created or by syncing with a tracked subscription using HubSpot payments.

If you have a customer facing onboarding plan then you could also pull more granular data about things like task completion status and progress too.

Here’s how we like to pull together data from multiple sources in a single view of a deal.

  1. Product usage data from our app (explained in more detail below) - used to understand engagement and power reporting and helpful workflows to surface accounts that need support and attention.

  2. Arrows onboarding/success plan data - used to track progress towards activation and identify blockers in the customer experience.

  3. HubSpot line items for the product/plan purchased - This is really helpful to automatically drive renewal sequences and upsell outreach based on subscription dates.

  4. Customer and team member activity feed - This is your standard CRM functionality but having emails (especially with the sales extension), notes, meetings, and calls with any related contact automatically logged in one place is fantastic for letting any team member dig in and understand the context of what’s happening with this customer.

Deals as a single view for customer dataDeals as a single view for customer data

 

3. Ensuring smooth handoffs from sales to onboarding

There’s often plenty of confusion surrounding the sales <> onboarding/customers success handoff, and it doesn’t always happen cleanly. Part of providing a great customer experience is your customer feeling like the sales team listened to their needs and clearly represented what your company’s solution could do.

Here’s a deal configuration and handoff work to help align expectations and nail down responsibilities, so that it’s clear who’s managing what.

Use required deal properties - to ensure any required customer information is complete when moving a deal to “closed won”.
Using required properties for CRM hygieneUsing required properties for CRM hygiene

 

Use a workflow to automate the details of handoffs - I’d suggest creating a workflow to handle as many steps related to handoffs as possible to ensure they happen repeatably and without things falling through the cracks that impact the customer experience.

In this example triggered when a deal moves to the stage “Closed Won” in our sales pipeline the workflow will:

  • Create a record in our onboarding pipeline (explained in more detail in the next section)
  • Copy relevant information from the sales deal to your new onboarding record
  • Set a renewal date (this could be set directly in the workflow or by pulling in the start date of a tracked subscription from HubSpot line items)
  • Assign an owner to the new onboarding ticket using a “Rotate record to owner” workflow action. If you have multiple people or teams who work with customers during onboarding you could also add branching logic to route new customers based on specific properties (that you make required to close the deal) such as products/services purchased or persona.
  • Create a customer facing success plan (more details below)
  • Send a welcome email to the customer from the new owner based on a template
  • Create internal prep tasks in a task queue for the onboarding team.

Sales <> Success Handoff workflowSales <> Success Handoff workflow

 

4. Giving customers a clear view of “what’s next” with a success plan

One thing to think about when it comes to running your process in HubSpot (or really any customer success tool) is that it's internal facing, so as much as you get setup your customer doesn't have visibility.

To improve transparency and help everyone get a better understanding of what needs to happen next we recommend using customer facing action plans attached to each deal or ticket you create.

This way you can collect any information you need that would block getting accounts setup and customers up and running while also laying out the success roadmap that will lead to stress free renewals. You could use a specific plan for different steps of the customer journey such as:

  • Onboarding
  • QBR’s
  • Renewals
  • Feature Rollouts
  • Account Expansion

Here's an example of what a customer facing plan might look like, and also how it would show up in a deal or ticket to enrich your data and make it easy to see what's happening.
Example customer facing planExample customer facing plan

 

Besides providing a clear next step for customers you could also use the plan to:

  • Share files
  • Collect form submissions
  • Accept file uploads
  • Engage with comments
  • Set due dates for tasks and target dates for onboarding
  • Assign onboarding tasks to specific people (eg a technical person might need to install a snippet vs legal might need to sign a contract)
  • Embed 3rd party tools (Calendly, Drive, YouTube etc) in a shared experience
  • Automate reminder notifications to customers for next steps

With Arrows this customer facing plan would be attached 1-1 to a deal or ticket and plan data is synced into HubSpot properties allowing you to use it in workflows and reporting.



5. Understand customer adoption and drive engagement

Whether you use a dedicated CS platform or HubSpot to manage your customer onboarding and renewals process, the chances are you'll want to be able to see what customers are doing in your product and how engaged they are to identify churn risks and ensure you have all the information you need for renewal conversations.

One thing that is often touted by dedicated customer success platforms that seems less common in the HubSpot community is pull product usage data into the CRM for reporting and/or driving behavior based actions whether automated or manual.

This isn’t as hard as it might sound using reverse ETL tools like Hightouch or Syncari. These tools make it possible to query your app database or really any other data store and pipe and map that data to HubSpot properties.

I’d suggest product usage from external systems in custom properties on company records and then using a workflow like the one below to copy it to associated tickets or deal in your onboarding and success pipelines whenever it gets updated. If the data is user specific you could of course do the same thing with a contact record.

At Arrows we use Hightouch to pull data from our Postgres database into HubSpot company records and then push it into the deals we use to manage our self-serve and sales-assist motions.

Here are 3 ideas for using product data inside your CRM.

Example 1: If you are using a customer facing plan with due dates, you can sync the due date of the current task from Arrows to HubSpot and then if it is past due kickoff reminders to the customer and/or your team to follow up.

Example 2: If you know that users taking a particular action in your product correlates to increased change of upgrading their account you could create a HubSpot workflow that sends a Slack notification to the CSM or Account Manager responsible for renewals to follow up and close the deal.

Example 3: You could also use a similar workflow based on the time since the customer was last contacted or if they are within a certain number of days of the target date and have not completed specific required steps to see value. Depending on the parameters you could assign to the ticket owner, escalate to additional team members or kickoff a whole new playbook as needed.

6. Report on performance

A huge advantage of running onboarding and renewals using HubSpot ticket pipelines is you can drastically simplify the work involved in getting all your data together for reporting.

Here are a few onboarding/success specific reports I'd suggest setting up:

1. Total tickets/deals in each stage of onboarding

This report is really helpful for quickly identifying bottlenecks and potential problem steps. For example do you have a lot of customers in a stage that requires a file upload? Are there many tasks in one stage? Is the point person for the customer not the right person to complete a task in this stage?

Identifying the bottleneck is the first step in improving the process to remove it.

2. Reporting on onboarding progress vs team activity

HubSpot Custom Reports that combine data from both your team's activity and your customer's behavior during onboarding are a really powerful way to get insight into your customers progress and how effective your process is at making them successful. This video shows how to setup an onboarding dashboard that also surfaces at risk onboarding's based on a threshold level of progress you set.

3. Segmenting onboarding/renewal performance by team memberrecorded a video here of how you could think about setting this up to show the impact team members have on the velocity and success of customers during onboarding.In summary - running onboarding and renewals in HubSpot using ticket pipelines is absolutely possible and has a ton of advantages.

4. Plan utilization

One great way to use any product usage data you are syncing into HubSpot is to create a computed property for Plan Utilization. In conversations with customer success leaders we’ve often seen some variation of this used as a north star for product adoption for account health.

In the example below our plan Plan Utilization property is a calculation of the seats currently filled (driven by product data) divided by the total number of purchased seats (from our subscription data).

We could set a baseline that a health account will be utilizing at least 85% of it’s seats and build lists or move customers between pipeline stages based on this metric. We could also report on the number of companies with plan utilization above and below our baseline overall.
Calculating a "health" metricCalculating a "health" metric

Running customer success in HubSpot isn’t just possible but I’d argue it’s actually preferred.

Making customers successful isn’t the responsibility of a single team but instead everybody who touches the customer experience from marketing and sales to success and product has a part to play.

Running the entire customer journey in a single tool (HubSpot) means there are less handoffs, less data gaps, and less places for a customer to fall through the cracks causing avoidable churn.

HubSpot as the single place for our customer facing team seems to be working well, always curious to learn about other ways it could be setup.

BrettloweAUS
Membre

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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This is a really great write-up, thank you. 
One thing that CS tools seem to do a great job at is health scoring. 
of course, you can bring customer/product data into HS and creates tasks, playbooks etc. But there is little room to create really intelligent health scores that take into account several varying data points. 
How would you solve this without needing a CS tool? Is there a good app that only does this?

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HGOrganics
Membre

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Indeed, this is a helpful and interesting article. The information provided here is easy to understand and follow. This would be very useful for start-ups and growing businesses. Thank you, Jen, for indicating all the details we needed to learn and know.

EArulchelvan
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Love this Jen - some great ideas there!

 

In terms of customer success, another tool I see many companies using effectively to help resolve common customer queries at scale is HubSpot's Knowledge Base software.

TL;DR. a knowledge base is a place where we can help customers help themselves!

 

For organisations with a Service Hub Pro or Enterprise subscription, a knowledge base is the home to articles which address frequent customer questions. The benefit of this is that companies can help their customers self-serve, reduce the number of support tickets and recieve up-to-date feedback/ ratings on how useful the articles are, as well as which terms are most searched so they can track if their content has addressed their customers' needs satisfactorily 😀

 

jwetzel-gather
Participant

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Jen — Thanks for sharing the tips! 

 

One logistical question on this topic: 

 

What is the best way to track which contacts are current clients vs. leads without having to manually manage a DB field?

 

The main use case we have right now is wanted to add our current clients to a list that can be used for emails, and other customer success work. 

JenBerenguer
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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🙂

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JenBerenguer
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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@jwetzel-gather  do you use the lifecycle stages? This is the easies way to segment customers vs prospects, especially when you're using HubSpot deals, as HubSpot will automatically update a contact's lifecycle stage to customers when they are associated with a closed won deal. 

 

jwetzel-gather
Participant

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Ah perfect! That's exactly what we should be using.

Thank you!

--

John Wetzel

Co-Founder

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Dan1
Guide

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Hi @NGome  , as per my message, meet @louischausse he might be able to help you further when it comes to copying deal details over to a new pipeline and managing your renewals. He has a HubSpot plugin called renewal spot . I hope this helps. 

louischausse
Conseiller clé | Partenaire solutions Platinum
Conseiller clé | Partenaire solutions Platinum

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Thanks for the introduction @Dan1 !

@NGome, happy to help here. If you don't see the "Create a deal" option it is maybe that you don't have Sales hub pro or enterprise... 

Do you know what tier of HubSpot you have?

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Dan1
Solution
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Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Hi @JenBerenguer , 

 

Great points!! 

 

I used to head up a CS team back in 2017 and 2018 for another software company and we were big HubSpot Sales and Marketing users. I set up a renewals pipeline, which worked well with customer quarterly reviews, to make sure we didn't miss a beat. 

 

This post is a little dated but the workflows I put together still apply: 

 

https://community.hubspot.com/t5/Tips-Tricks-Best-Practices/How-to-handle-renewals-in-your-deal-pipe...

 

I hope this helps a few people. 

 

Kind Regards, 

 

Dan Currin 

 
Co-Founder 
 
OrgChartHub & GeoMapper named in the Top 30 HubSpot Apps 
NGome
Membre

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Hi @Dan1 
Thanks so much for sharing it's very helpful!
I'm currently building the CS department in our company and I'm trying to implement your awesome ideas.

Sadly, I encountered a problem when I tried to build the workflow as you suggested, I couldn't find the option "create a deal", do you mind helping me with this and explaining to me in more detail how exactly you did it?

My wish is that once the deal is won it will automatically move to the CS pipeline

 

Thanks again,

Noa 

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Dan1
Guide

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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Hi Noa, 

 

I am really pleased that you have found the renewals post and video helpful. 

 

I have put together a quick video for you so you can find the section in workflows to create a deal: 

 

Screenshot 2021-01-22 at 10.36.51.png

 

Kind Regards, 

 

Dan Currin 

 
Co-Founder 
 
OrgChartHub & GeoMapper named in the Top 30 HubSpot Apps 
 
Dan1_0-1606235773870.png
JenBerenguer
HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

Using HubSpot for Customer Success

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This is great, Dan, thanks! Definately very helpful (and awesome intro to the video :D)