At Catalyst, we define Customer-Led Growth as follows:
“Customer-led growth (CLG) is a business methodology that enables exponential revenue growth through a cheaper, faster, and more reliable source: your customers. By focusing the go-to-market strategy on customers, a company will rely less on new business and grow more efficiently through expansion, advocacy, and retention.”
Rooted in this definition is the most critical component to powering your #CLG engine: customer expansion, advocacy, and retention.
And guess what… we believe that the partnership between Product and Customer Success is what can truly make or break your ability to achieve these outcomes (a.k.a. your recurring company revenue).
The why behind a joint adoption strategy
Product and Customer Success have a strong, interdependent relationship by which each team’s success will heavily rely on the other. At the most basic level, this all begins with partnering to mutually drive customer adoption goals.
Here’s a few ways a reactive and siloed approach to customer adoption can go wrong:
- Poor Start to Relationship: Onboarding challenges are not communicated and/or prioritized by Product, slowing time to value and increasing implementation failures.
- Reactive vs. Proactive Success: Customer adoption is left to one individual (CSM) or a scaled program (tech-touch/support); putting too much emphasis on one resource and creating post-sale teams that are drowning in customer issues.
- Increased At-Risk Accounts: Your at-risk accounts will likely multiply and if Product is not aligned to support (more on that below), Success will waste more productivity ‘fighting fires’ and experience greater churn.
- More Churn, Less Growth: At the end of this cycle, you’ll clearly have less customers to retain, grow and learn from for continuous improvement.
- Obsolete Product: And finally, if Product is not plugged into what’s happening with your customers, they can quickly miss product gaps and opportunities—risking the entire value of your product to prospects and customers.
The good news is that, as illustrated below, when Product and Customer Success embrace a joint approach to customer adoption; revenue growth will naturally increase.
Great! So, how do we do this?
With a highly interdependent relationship, Product and Customer Success should be able to break down silos quickly and start driving mutual wins that support customer-led growth.
As touched on in CLG Principle 7, using ‘voice of the customer’ (VOC) input is essential across your entire organization, but arguably most important to Product. Many programs listed below center around VOC as well but what’s most critical is that Product and Success truly champion the analysis and strategic direction based on customer input.
Critical ‘must have’ alignment to mutually drive customer adoption
- Market trends + competition: Product Management should be collaborating with Product Marketing and Sales to keep Success informed on handling competitive objections and pitching your differentiators. CSMs need this knowledge if customers look into churning to a competitor.
- Always verify research directly: Beyond establishing a strategy to collect feature requests and listening to calls, Product should conduct direct customer interviews, review feature requests with Success and ensure data collected matches what’s being discovered in the field.
- Roadmap prioritization: Depending on how your product roadmap is set, a weighting needs to be allocated to driving customer retention outcomes. Meeting the latest market trends and buyer needs is important, but be sure to balance this with top feature requests or helping address a gap among your most expensive ‘at-risk’ accounts.
- Automate customer feedback + escalations: Throughout our CLG articles and CLG Guide, we’ve consistently discussed the importance of using shared Slack channels connected to your post-sale platforms (like Catalyst) to send Product real-time customer feedback, NPS updates and get looped into escalations efficiently. As mentioned earlier, this can be key to ensuring customer churn does not fall on one person.
- Shared revenue goals: A disconnect in incentives can undermine the potential impact of this collaboration. Shared metrics can act as a forcing function to get teams aligned, and bring visibility and accountability to these goals. These metrics can be directly tied to growth goals, indicators and/or can be shared with more teams. Examples:
- Product, CS and Marketing own driving adoption of a new feature → 20% of existing customers have activated [feature] within 60 days of launch.
- Product and CS own time to onboard → reduce implementation and onboarding time by 20%.
- Product, CS and Sales own upsells of a new feature → 10 accounts have upgraded to [feature].
- Product, CS and Marketing own finding customer references for new features → 5 beta customers for [feature] agree to be references for case studies.
- Proactively engage with Product: Actively bring Product and Engineering onto calls to provide first-hand access into customer goals, needs and plans with your platform.
- Share implementation feedback: Capture feedback through post-implementation surveys to better understand how you can drive time to value through your set-up requirements, processes and getting started experience.
- Evaluate product launch effectiveness: Work with Product to capture direct feedback on your product launch processes (interviews or surveys, not just adoption metrics) to ensure you’re consistently driving customer adoption and value through new offerings.
- Conduct churn post-mortems (a.k.a. ‘customer exit interviews’) each time you lose a customer and share those highlights. This should not be done on a subset of customers. The deeper your understanding of churn reasons, the better informed you’ll be to attract and maintain a more diverse set of customers within your market.
- Monitor and share lifecycle adoption: Track adoption metrics and gather direct feedback along the customer journey to assess where your platform challenges (or strengths) occur across the customer lifecycle for Product to understand.
- Always have a meeting cadence: Often, all of the above is only made possible if you commit to it! Make sure you schedule consistent joint meetings to discuss trends across your learnings, research and customer feedback. At Catalyst, our Product and CS teams work closely to analyze their respective data each quarter and ensure our strategies remain aligned around driving clear customer outcomes.
Mobilize your top players that drive customer loyalty
At the end of the day, this CLG Principle is purely practical: why leave your top customer loyalty drivers operating in a silo? Customers buy your product and Success helps them drive business impact from it.
It is essential that Product and Customer Success march to the same drumbeat to create products that meet customer needs and drive the best possible experiences for increased customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue.