Product-led growth has been dominating the SaaS world for a few years now, but traditionally run companies are only starting to see the benefits. This week, we break down the symbiotic relationship that can exist between a product-led growth strategy and customer success teams.
Today, let's dive into what product-led growth is, how it fits with the current customer success strategy, and how customer success teams can further drive the impact product-led growth can achieve.
What is product led growth?
Product led growth is a tactic in which the product itself is primarily responsible for things like customer retention, expansion, acquisition, and conversion. Instead of pouring resources into buying ads, these teams focus on making a product that customers are successful with.
When you really stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense. What’s more compelling for a customer than when a tool does the job it’s meant to do, and also does it well? Think about the iPhone. Even though it was Apple’s first attempt at making a phone, they did it so well that at this point iPhone sales make up over 45% of their entire revenue.
To put it very simply: when you make good stuff, people tend to buy it, tell others about it, and in turn attract even more people to buy said product, growing your overall business. Using the Apple example again, in 2006 (the year prior to the iPhone) they did around $19 billion in revenue. The year after? 24 billion. Five years later? Over $100 billion in revenue.
Why is product led growth important for customer success teams?
Most customer success teams are responsible for two things: retention and expansion. However, if your product is lacking, or difficult to use in some way, chances are both those areas will be negatively impacted.
If a customer isn’t able to do with your product what is promised, or what they need to, it’s very possible they’ll start looking for other solutions. Even if they don’t churn, it’s very unlikely that they’ll invest more into something that’s just okay.
On the flip side of things, when you have a strong product those two things start to get easier. New customers adopt the product faster, making it sticker, which in turn makes them less likely to leave. Research also shows existing customers are much more likely to buy additional products and services from you than new customers, which could improve account expansion.
How does customer success contribute to product led growth?
In order to properly execute on a product led growth strategy all teams need to be aligned, but some teams like customer success may play a bigger role than others. Since they’re generally closer to customers and have a more intimate relationship, they can help with overall strategy for product adoption, and a number of other areas.
Defining the user journey
Learning a new product takes time. You have to toy around with it, and see how it fits in with your current workflow. And though some customers will figure it out on their own, it’s a much simpler – and faster– process when you have some steps for them to follow. However, before you can create the map, you have to first understand the journey.
The truth is there’s no single way to go about understanding and defining the customer journey, but there are some methods most will benefit from:
You have to make sure you’re testing things out in the real-world. Things like beta testing groups, or even internal employees can be great resources to get insights into how people will use your product in the real-world.
Pay attention to user behavior. For example, if you notice someone is logging into their account way less see what the last action they took was. Those insights could point to potential areas where people may be likely to get stuck.
Last, talk to customers. Though everyone will process things differently, chances are if something is an issue for one customer, it probably will be for another.
As you get those insights make sure you’re documenting them. Once you know the pain points you can work on different solutions to overcome them.
Creating and dissecting a Voice of the Customer (VoC)
In a way customers are the best focus group ever. And as they use your product they’ll have thoughts, concerns, and ways for you to improve. However, since that feedback comes from so many different sources, it can be hard to put together in a digestible format.
In recent years the answer to that struggle is a Voice of the Customer (VoC) report. If you’re not familiar, a VoC is basically an overview of common customer feedback you’ve collected over a period of time. It could include things like feature requests, or problem areas in your product.
There are a few different methods you can take to create a VoC. Surveys, beta programs, and customer interviews are all common methods. Along with a variety of methods, you should also have a variety of sources.
And once you collect the feedback, it’s important you don’t keep it to yourself; it's important to ensure that you embed VOC programs across your organization.
Proactive outreach and education
People don’t tend to want to wait for an answer. When they run into an issue, they want help immediately. And if they don’t get the help they need soon, they may simply give up and move on to something else that requires less effort.
Because of this you need to be sure you’re monitoring accounts for potential signs that things aren’t going great. For example, if someone starts logging into their account half as much as before, or they remove seats you should send an alert to a team member to reach out and see what’s going on.
To anticipate needs you could create a customer onboarding class you offer to new users. It could be a series of webinars, or an in-app walkthrough. Or perhaps you could set up an instance where when someone first uses a feature you send them some help documentation on that feature to help them along.
The most important thing is that you have resources ready when they need them. The lower the effort they have to expend, the better.
Just as there are 1000 ways to peel a cucumber, there are also plenty of different ways to try and grow a business. Things like sales and marketing will always be important, but aren’t the only way.
Product led growth is just as viable, and possibly a more sustainable, solution as any when trying to grow your business. By leveraging your customer success team you can gain invaluable insights into how customers use your product, what makes them stick around, and how you can make them most successful with your offering.
Make sure you’re properly utilizing the resources you have to create a better product. When you do, you’ll be setting the stage for a better business, too.
Want to know more about Product-Led Growth and Customer Success? Download our free eBook here.