Interview: HubSpot's Sarah McDevitt on moving forward in times of uncertainty, strategies for the future, and improving customer relationships

We sat down with HubSpot's Sarah McDevitt to discuss strategy in times of uncertainty, and making sure you're constantly improving customer relationships.

Picture of Alex Martin Alex Martin

Published: 22 May 2020

5 minutes read

HubSpot's Sarah McDevitt on moving forward in uncertain times

With businesses making the shift to remote working, or being forced to furlough staff in the wake of COVID-19, it’s becoming essential to not only look at your online strategy, but also begin to plan for the future. Companies across the globe have encountered increased or decreased demand, and a mounting pressure to ‘stay afloat’ in these trying times, and are searching for ways to move forward efficiently and swiftly. 

Our resident BDM Jack Williams caught up with HubSpot’s Head of Partner Services and Customer Onboarding EMEA, Sarah McDevitt, to discuss some of the challenges that businesses are facing, as well as some ways to provide exceptional customer service, and strategise for the future. 

Key takeaways for marketers 

On how companies should deploy tools to combat some of the issues raised in the current climate

“Rolling out chat features has been particularly important for people to make sure that they can deal with the volume, but i would also say that beyond the tools, it is about making sure that customers build a framework now of how they want to move forward .. if you have customer service reps on the ground, in your business, talking to customers, it’s really important that you enable that group of people with a very clear direction of how you want them to move forward with customers.” (Sarah) 

Now is the time to listen to and understand your customers, and acknowledge what they need in a time of crisis. In the current climate, your customer service team is the key to keeping your clients on board, happy, and up-to-date with how your business is adapting as time goes on. Chatbots are an ideal way to help your service team respond to customers and adapt, as they offer unique opportunities to respond to customers swiftly and accurately, in real-time. 

On how online conversations and channels are going to impact customer retention and new business in the coming months 

“It’s good for all companies to sit down and decide, what direction do they want to go with, if a customer has an issue -what is going to be their policy, because i think in some cases businesses will get one bite of the cherry in terms of how they are thought of by customers in the future.” (Sarah) 

We know that more businesses are being forced online due to COVID-19, but  this is true for consumers, too! This means that your online presence is massively important, and the way that you interact with both current customers and potential new business is crucial. If you’re unable to be open and transparent about dealing with customer issues now, you run the risk of reducing trust in your business - and not just for your current customers. 

If you have the right processes and tools in place to protect your current customers, then it  could have a positive knock on effect for attracting future customers. Learning from the issues and queries that your customers have now means that your team is more effectively equipped to deal with issues in the future, helping to evolve and improve your offering. 

On businesses that are experiencing a decrease, or lack of, enquiries 

“I have seen customers; we’ve seen it right across the globe - customers developing new lines of business that can help them through this period of time, that maybe they would have never come up with - they’ve been pushed during this particular crisis to get creative.” (Sarah) 

We’ve seen it ourselves - companies are finding that their enquiries are drying up, or that business has drawn to a standstill in the face of lockdown. The key to getting through this period isn’t to cut losses - it’s to get creative. Businesses should consider how their product or service can prove useful in the current climate, and work to pivot to meet demand. In Jack’s example, a company that delivers training courses has made the shift to online training, building a new knowledge base to do so. 

Think: how can your company deliver the same excellent service in this new online world? Use the feedback from your customers, and the ideas of your team, to figure out your next move - don’t bury your head in the sand. 

On developing ‘offers’ to help sell your product or service 

“It should be on something that is sustainable and scalable for that business, something that’s repeatable, and that your customers understand that. I think you need to be transparent as to why though, because there is a huge amount of value in specialties and thought, and you don’t want to devalue those types of things.” (Sarah)

Many big businesses are looking towards offers to help stay afloat during lockdown, but that’s something that isn’t always possible for smaller companies. When providing any kind of discount or offer, it’s important to remember not to devalue or discount the knowledge and specialty that is being provided. Provide value to your customers, but don’t overstretch in what you can give out for free! 

On whether it’s worth working with a HubSpot partner 

“Even if I wasn’t who I was, I would say 100% - this is a non-biased answer! [laughs] I can answer this with more of a perspective - i spent 16 years in agencies, so I can understand the value that agencies offer to our customers, but in the sense of HubSpot, our partners in HubSpot are an incredibly important part of our ecosystem, and the reason for that is they are the people that really help to ‘go deep’ with customers, in how they get the best out of HubSpot.”

Having the tools to move forward and start strategising for the future is a great way to begin building a blueprint for your business beyond lockdown. HubSpot is a great tool for this - the Sales, Marketing and Customer Service hubs each offer ways to streamline your business processes, develop new ideas, and engage with your customers effectively. However, having the tools doesn’t necessarily mean automatic success. Companies in the midst of this crisis are looking for results, now, and working with a HubSpot partner is one way to get those results faster.

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