The Experience Disrupters
To compete in 2020, it’s not good enough to have a disruptive product. Your customer experience also needs to shine.
Let me tell you about my evening routine. Every night, my dog Romeo and I come home from the Cambridge, Massachusetts, offices of HubSpot, where I’m CEO, by taking a Lyft. We play our favorite band on Spotify. Cranking the music, we boogie over to the dog area, clean out some of Romeo’s toys, and see if he got a new package in the mail from Chewy — he loves their chicken lollipops. After a snack, I head down to the gym for a workout I booked through ClassPass. I come home and shower and shave using a new package from Dollar Shave Club. I order something from DoorDash, and, after it arrives, Romeo and I put our toes up and check out a favorite movie on Netflix. Then we lie down on our Casper mattress, and we get a good night’s sleep.
I think we have a fascinating evening routine. Why? Because all these companies — I just ripped through eight of them — have replaced companies I used to do business with.
It’s not just my evening routine; it’s my daily routine. It’s all of our daily routines, isn’t it? There’s been a massive wave of disruption happening in the consumer world, courtesy of companies like Lyft, Netflix, and Spotify.
The same shift is going on in the business world. When I’m on the West Coast, I set up in a remote office and collaborate with team members on Slack. When there’s a meeting, I fire up Zoom. When I’m hungry, I scarf down something from ezCater. Again, this is a wholesale swap of vendors.
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But this isn’t disruption in the way most of us think of it. We tend to think about technology disrupters — the browser, Google, Intel, the iPhone, maybe the Tesla someday. Big technology companies with lots of patents. (In 2018, Intel was granted 2,735 patents, Apple 2,160, and Google 2,070.)1
Companies like Chewy and Dollar Shave and ClassPass — are they technology disrupters? I’m not so sure. I went very deep on this list of companies plus a few others, about 20 altogether, with two of my colleagues at HubSpot. We talked to almost all of these companies’ founders. We purchased pretty much all their products, we read all their terms and conditions, we talked to their big investors.
1. J.J. Roberts, “IBM Tops 2018 Patent List as AI and Quantum Computing Gain Prominence,” Fortune, Jan. 7, 2019, https://fortune.com.
2. D. Muller, “Carvana Debuts as No. 8 on Used Ranking,” Automotive News, April 22, 2019, www.autonews.com.
3. L. Smiley, “Stitch Fix’s Radical Data-Driven Way to Sell Clothes — $1.2 Billion Last Year — Is Reinventing Retail,” Fast Company, Feb. 19, 2019, www.fastcompany.com.
Dr. Muralee Menon