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May 5th, 2021

Customer-Led Growth: Bringing customers to the center of every team

By Liz Ferguson

It’s more important than ever to align your teams around the customer. But with organizational silos, a lack of transparency, and misaligned priorities, it’s been impossible to get teams, products, and customers on the same page. 

Until now. It’s time to bring us back together. 

Product-Led Growth vs. Customer-Led Growth: What’s the Difference


We’ve all likely heard of product-led growth (aka PLG). PLG was foundational to the success of many well-known SaaS companies in the past decade, such as Slack, Dropbox, and Calendly. The strategy has become widely popular as the software space grows tired of long, costly, and (many times) unsuccessful sales cycles that come from sales-led or marketing-led strategies.

Companies who have adopted PLG get products into the hands of potential users to show the value first-hand, versus more traditional sales methods that occur through product demos and complex proofs-of-concept. People now expect hands-on access to software before buying. As individuals are becoming the primary buyer of products, a product-first approach often wins. 

The way people research, evaluate, and buy software is changing. A top-down approach where executives make the purchasing decision is phasing out as a more grassroots effort driven by employees using the software arises. 

You’re probably wondering...why would we move away from PLG if it’s been so successful? 

The answer is, we’re not. We’re taking Growth to the next level. Growth should not only be about leading with our products; it should be about leading with our customers -- the people who use, adopt, and rally behind the products we build. 

So what is Customer-Led Growth? Customer-Led Growth is the cross-functional approach to customer success that leverages the voice of the customer to retain, expand, and delight users throughout the customer lifecycle. It’s how we evolve our products alongside the people using it, all while bringing new customers in the door. 

Putting Customer-Led Growth Into Practice

How can we put customers at the center of everything?

Champion the voice of the customer at scale 

The most valuable insights in customer communication often live siloed across teams and products. From Marketing and Sales to Product and Success, it’s essential to capture and quantify these insights to evolve your product alongside your customers successfully. Giving teams a single lens into what customers are talking about ensures everyone stays aligned around ways to delight, expand, and retain users at scale. 

Align internally to drive value across the customer journey

Many customers have experienced explaining their pain points to multiple teams across the lifecycle. Little frustrates users more than to think they are yelling into the void (especially after paying for your product). 😣

Plus, newer customers have different problems than those that have been with you for years. The world is evolving, the competitive landscape is growing, and your team and product need to keep up with evolving customer needs to stay ahead of the competition.

Working together across different internal teams to address customer issues builds confidence in your company’s ability to listen and deliver the best customer experiences. Chances are, the solution involves more than one team, and ensuring that you’re all on the same page about what that solution entails lets the customer know that they are in the right hands...yours.

Leverage insights to deliver personalized customer experiences

Users want to know their voice has an impact on how your teams work together to solve their core pain points. By capturing and quantifying the voice of the customer across channels, your team can have a holistic picture of customer champions, at-risk customers, and clear paths to evolve the product experience from day one through one thousand. 

What’s even more important? Not only capturing these insights... but closing the loop with users to deliver more personalized customer experiences at scale. If you’ve engaged with a product’s community, chances are you’ve seen a high-level product roadmap that looks clean but doesn’t get down to the core of what you need to know. 

Imagine a world where your users can directly see the impact they’re having on your product direction. It opens up the doors to transform customers into champions. Did someone say #renewal?

There are many other key areas to help bring customer-centricity across your teams. By being customer-led, you’re able to drive expansion, retention, and new revenue for your business.

Ready to get started with Customer-Led Growth? We’d love to hear your stories and how you think organizations should become more customer-led. DM us on Twitter @heyoutline or email us at team@heyoutline.com.

And if you want to take a peek at what we’re building at Outline to help teams become customer-led, sign up for our beta here

At Outline, we focus on breaking down silos across teams and bringing the voice of the customer to the center of every organization. To see how Outline helps companies focus on their customers, check out www.heyoutline.com or sign up for a quick tour and demo of the product here.

Say hello to customer-led growth

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