Tips for CCO Success at a B2B Organization from Yamini Rangan, CCO of HubSpot

Today’s podcast is a little different. I’m sharing the audio from The Chief Communications Officer Human Duct Tape Show that I recorded with Yamini Rangan on LinkedIn Live. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn for resources to help guide you as we face this pandemic together!

“It is no longer just about the product. It is all about the customer experience, the way we make customers feel when they use the product. That makes a huge difference,” says Yamini Rangan, HubSpot‘s first Chief Customer Officer. In today’s conversation, Yamini and I discuss the importance of storytelling and of unifying teams within an organization to work towards a common goal. She also shares some of the ways in which HubSpot has handled the disruption of COVID-19.

HubSpot is a B2B organization that started off as a marketing automation company about 14 years ago, and is now a full platform company providing solutions for marketing sales services, as well as CMS hub for small to medium-sized businesses.

Watch the LinkedIn Live Conversation with Yamini:

Take the Customer Off the Spreadsheet

Yamini shares that over the past decade, she’s seen how there’s been a shift from focusing solely on a product and its efficacy, to focusing on how the customer interacts with the product and perceives the experience of working with the organization. Her experience has shown that her own personal core competency is pattern recognition. Through pattern recognition, Yamini can “take the customer off the spreadsheet,” critically analyze data, and then find the points that allow her to tell the customer story and make it compelling. 

Yamini and I discuss the importance of CCOs having to be storytellers. In order to do this, we have to unify marketing, sales, and customer support services, to bring the right kinds of experience to the customer. When solving for the customer, Yamini says that you have to have sharp listening skills.

Don’t Rush Into Strategic Work

Yamini is among the ranks of perennial CCOs having previously been the CCO of Dropbox, another SaaS company. When Yamini joined HubSpot, she shares that she did 360 degrees of listening. She spoke to a range of stakeholders inclusive of investors, customers, partners, frontline employees, and her team. She wanted to know, “What are the biggest opportunities that you see that we need to be able to take? What are the biggest risks that you see that we need to be able to address? And what do you not want them to change?”

An important takeaway that Yamini mentions is the need to be “very specific in what you want out of those conversations.” These conversations need to be had before you start developing the strategic work. 

“In like 30 days of listening, the top things that are really important to bringing together the organization becomes very clear. In our case, it is, you know, what is we have multiple segments that we go after […] what is the differentiated customer experience that we need to deliver for each of those segments? That’s really a top area,” says Yamini. 

Essentially, Yamini had to work with her team to determine what customer segmentation they could align on.”Alignment eats strategy for breakfast” is what she says. After aligning on on the segmentation, they come together to form the strategy. 

What are the biggest opportunities that you see that we need to be able to take? What are the biggest risks that you see that we need to be able to address? And how do you want them to change? - @yaminirangan, CCO @hubspot #CX Share on X

A Leader Consumes Uncertainty and Provides Clarity

During the pandemic, HubSpot had to switch gears and shift working styles due to COVID-19’s disruption. As Yamini led her teams during this transition, she mentions that the role of a leader is to “consume uncertainty and provide clarity to the extent that you can.” She shares how at HubSpot, they immediately addressed their partners’ cash flow issues, working with them to ensure their partners were viable. They also communicated with customers and worked together to ensure sustainability in a virtual model by providing content and resources to help them navigate the transition to remote working. 

Yamini also explains how she and her team embedded the approach to customer listening and empathy in an accelerated way. They offered some services that were originally in a paid model to the unpaid model, and Yamini herself has had open conversations with customers, which has been easier to do now that everyone seems a little more human. The most important thing we can continue to do is connect with customers in a face to face conversation.

the role of a leader is to consume uncertainty and provide clarity to the extent that you can. - @yaminirangan, CCO of @hubspot #cx #customerexperience Share on X

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Yamini says:

“I will tell you, when I got started in the industry, this was 1996, chief customer officer role did not exist. I’m just so grateful for the journey that I have been through. And the only thing I’ll say is, it’s tough. Don’t kid yourself; the combination of right brain left brain, the combination of understanding, you know, through metrics and understanding the qualitative emotional aspect of things. It’s putting a lot of things together. And you know, you’ve got to use every step in your journey, towards not what you’re learning there, but what can you continue to improve throughout your life. Over the years, I’ve honed a lot more on a growth mindset. You know, it’s a journey. It’s not a destination.”

About Yamini Rangan

Yamini is a tech-industry veteran with over 24 years of experience ranging from product marketing, sales, and strategy. She is the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at HubSpot. Yamini previously served as Chief Customer Officer at Dropbox, where she was responsible for embedding customer focus across the organization. Before Dropbox, she was VP of Sales Strategy and Operations at Workday, where she helped quadruple revenue and scaled the sales organization. At SAP, Yamini held several customer-facing leadership roles in strategy, pre-sales and value-based selling and helped close landmark deals.

Yamini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering, a Master’s in Computer Engineering, and an MBA from Berkeley. In 2019, Yamini was recognized as one of the Most Influential Women in Business by San Francisco Business Times.

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