Customer led growth in 2023: What Is It, How It's Different & Why It's Here To Stay

Customer led growth in 2023: What Is It, How It's Different & Why It's Here To Stay

TL:DR

  • Customer led growth (CLG) is a strategy that prioritizes customer insights to guide growth 🌱
  • Together with product-led growth, it is one of the two main growth philosophies practiced today ✍️
  • Customer-led growth prioritizes creating exceptional customer experiences that inspire loyalty, trust and raise customer satisfaction scores 🤝
  • By investing in a customer-led growth strategy and moving from focusing on ROI to ROX, companies can expect to see major gains in retention, revenue and customer engagement.

Today's business world is an interesting amalgamation of different leadership and company philosophies. The diversity in strategies seems like a great way to allow new innovations in growth strategies to flourish.

One such strategy is customer-led growth, which takes customer insights and puts them right back where they belong: at the heart of every business, guiding every decision. But are companies today using it to its full advantage?

There are a million-and-one directions that businesses are taking — maybe it's time for the corporate world to take a step back and look towards creating experiences that will inspire loyalty, trust and satisfaction in the hearts of their customers.

What is customer-led growth?

The main goal of any customer-led growth strategy is to craft experiences compelling enough to inspire trust, boost retention and create loyal brand acolytes by prioritizing customer insights to guide all decision-making.

In organizations that design their growth trajectory around a customer-led approach, customer feedback and insights are the primary jumping off point for a lot of business-critical decisions, from what features to release, to what UI/UX to design, to what customer support workflows to implement.

Understanding what customers want and then operationalizing and implementing those insights is what customer-led growth comes down to.

Other business growth strategies

Customer-led growth is just one of many different business growth philosophies. Each focus on different channels and methods to supercharge growth. The most well-known (apart from CLG) include: 

Product-led growth (PLG)

Unlike customer-led growth, which uses customer insights and CX to drive growth, product-led growth centers product experiences.

In product-led growth, user acquisition, expansion, conversion and retention are all driven primarily by the product itself. In order to illustrate the concept better, the folks over at PLG Collective came up with a handy analogy they call the 'product prism'.

product-led prism
The product prism by PLG. Source

When white light passes through a prism, it splits into all its composite wavelengths and creates the rainbow spectrum. Product-led growth is like this process, but in reverse: the rainbow colors are different business functions (marketing, sales, success, development, etc.), that, when passed through the product prism, result in a cohesive, unified and standout user experience. These user experiences then drive user acquisition, expansion, conversion and retention.

Product-led growth is a great strategy for tech companies that have intuitive UIs and self-service support setups because it is easy and relatively inexpensive to scale.

Some examples of PLG companies include: 

  • Zoom
  • Facebook
  • Stripe
  • Canva
  • Figma

Sales-led growth (SLG)

Sales-led growth centers an organization's sales team; they're primarily responsible for driving new user acquisition and growth. Sales-led growth is falling out of favor with a lot of modern companies — especially in SaaS and tech — because it can be hard to scale, and requires a lot of man-power and resources. That being said, sales-led growth may be the way to go for service companies or those with incredibly complicated products. It may also be right in situations where you're targeting large enterprises companies in more traditional industries. Red tape, longer sales cycles and big contracts make product-led strategies all but impossible in these situations.

Some examples of SLG companies are: 

  • Microsoft
  • Salesforce

Marketing-led growth

Marketing-led growth is growth that is driven primarily through product marketing activities and brand building. This approach is more common in B2C, D2C and other consumer businesses, so we won't go too much into it here.

Examples of customer-led growth

Forbes recently put a huge list of the most customer-centric companies together. Along with categories for finance, retail and restaurants, they also had a list of 10 B2B companies who were knocking this whole customer-led thing out of the park.

We thought we'd put together our own list to highlight some SaaS companies in that same vein.

Fullview

Fullview was started with a customer-first ethos right off the bat. Everyone at our company is customer-facing — whether that's conducting market research, talking to design partners or solving customer support tickets, we believe that good CX and customer support are crucial for increasing net revenue retention.

We're also helping our own customers achieve this customer-centricity at their companies with our sol ution. The result? Better support outcomes, greater customer engagement and higher NRR.

LicenceOne

LicenceOne is a French SaaS company that helps SMEs save money on their software subscriptions by detecting zombie subscriptions, alerting users before automatic renewals and removing employees from their logins once they leave, among many other features.

They've prioritized customer support and CX for expansion, retention and growth. After implementing innovative solutions like cobrowsing to provide personalized experiences and be more hands-on with their customers, LicenceOne saw user engagement rates skyrocket.

Read more about LicenceOne's experience with customer-led growth, CX and customer support.

Unbounce

Unbounce is a SaaS company for building landing pages that convert. It offers tools such as AI copywriting, optimization, templates and popups. When Georgiana Laudi, Unbounce's former VP of Marketing, remapped their customer journey in terms of value — rather than thinking about it in terms of the ubiquitous marketing funnel — she saw a marked improvement in rates of retention. In fact, Unbounced's revenue grew almost 900% over the next two years.

She later wrote: “Gaining clarity on — and operationalizing how — our best customers received value, and achieved their goals, led us to reach ours."

Customer-led growth is here to stay

Companies that will see astronomic growth in this decade are those that can strategize their core functions towards exceeding customer expectations. If you want to be a part of this new revolution, it's time to start thinking of your business and growth strategy in terms of Customer Experience (CX).

Word of mouth spreads fast these days; customers compare notes and share their experiences with your business. After a negative experience, 13% will tell 15 or more people about it. When your customer experience is awful, it can seriously jeopardize your company.

The pandemic has only exacerbated these trends because most interactions with customers now happen online, which means digital CX is more important than ever before.

That's why we believe 2023 is the year of customer led growth.

Why you need to invest in Customer Support

Given that customer-led growth is more important than ever before, investing in your customer support team is crucial. Why? Because if you employ a product-led strategy, it's likely that the first point of contact between customers and your company will be your support team. In that same vein, if you're primarily customer-led, your support team can be turned from a cost center into a growth engine by being trained to upsell, cross sell and encourage renewals.

As a company, there needs to be an awareness of customer service's importance at every level of your business. And behavioral and transactional customer insights deserve closer attention. Today, customer support is about more than achieving ticket resolution quotas, it's about a complete 360-degree view of your customer.

Given that most businesses take a customer-support-by-numbers approach, working to make your support team stand out can also turn into a huge competitive advantage.

Moving away from ROI to ROX

A shift towards CX will require a divergence from traditional metrics measuring return on investments.

As an organization, there needs to be a better sense of understanding of what it means to be in your customers' shoes. This means learning how to map a consumer's journey right from the first point of contact all the way to their latest purchase or review. By doing this, you'll be able to accurately isolate essential points and factors that act as a driving force behind desirable outcomes.

Once these critical driving forces are identified, you can restructure your company to hone in on those interactions and key moments to invest in. In turn, this should yield strong results, resulting in a good return on experience (ROX).

As a SaaS business, it's worth making ROX one of your main measures of success.

Customers like good CX

Customer experience strategies can quickly become myopic when your business lacks a proper perspective of its practices. Naturally, there's always a tendency to believe that you've done an excellent job once the company ramps up its investments in customer support.

However, if you want to see the results of CX, it's not enough to make a few changes and decide that a better job has been done.

Instead, you should be entirely fully focused on customer insights, which you can gather and turn into actionable plans by measuring essential CX metrics like CSAT, CES and NPS. And then benchmarking your performance against industry standards.

Loyal customers don't just rely on discounts to remain committed to your brand. When making things easier for them, you should make efforts to meet they are by implementing a good multichannel support strategy. Your customer service flows should prioritize omni-channel communication, allowing tickets to be addressed across various platforms without a hitch. From text, emails, messaging, live chat and social media, it's vital to always be available to your customers. Speed and convenience are strong expectations that customers have.

Additionally, to make your support truly impactful, your organization should connect your customer support with the rest of your business for better collaboration.

Wrapping things up

As a SaaS company, you know that customer support is essential to your success. But providing excellent customer support can be expensive and time-consuming. Which is why investing in the right CX and customer support software is important.

Customer service-led growth is the future. You can't afford to neglect your customers anymore, especially when so many other companies are vying for their attention.

It's time to invest in quality customer support and prioritize your customers' expectations over everything else. Are you ready to make the change?

Author

Emma Bakh

CX Manager

Contributor