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The Power of Customer Experience in Product-Led Growth

Published February 29, 2024

Product-Led Growth (PLG) is a business strategy where the product itself has the primary role in acquiring, onboarding, engaging, and retaining customers.

But in today’s self-directed, digital-first world, just over half of all B2B buyers desire a seller-free sales experience.

That’s because people don’t want to be ‘sold’ to, much less have to interact with marketing campaigns or salespeople; they want to educate themselves and make decisions based on the experiences they have with the product or service they’re interested in.

This is where PLG comes in. It prioritizes creating products and services that naturally meet or even exceed customer needs at every step of the customer lifecycle. If you’ve used products like Dropbox, Slack, Zoom, or Spotify, you’ve experienced it first-hand. You didn't have to have a salesperson show you how they worked. You just tried it out yourself, for free, and drew your own conclusions.

As a result, PLG reduces reliance on traditional sales and marketing tactics, letting the product's value and the experience propel growth. Products become advocates for themselves, fueled by positive experiences and word-of-mouth recommendations. The fact is customer experience has always been a key to success for subscription-based and digital-first businesses. But with a Product-Led Growth strategy, customer experience is THE key to success.

Customer Experience and PLG: A Perfect Match

The principles of PLG and exceptional customer experiences seamlessly align, creating a synergy that fuels growth. In sales- and marketing-led companies, the goal is to take buyers from one stage of the journey to the next. In a PLG-led company, this gets flipped; by putting the customer and their experience at the center, the experience itself is what takes buyers from one stage of the journey to the next, and what drives engagement and retention for customers.

By prioritizing customer-centric design, intuitive interfaces, and ease of use, PLG companies create products that naturally resonate with their customers. Every touchpoint at every journey stage, from initial discovery through advocacy, is crafted to ensure customers feel valued, empowered, and satisfied.

This unlocks several advantages. Satisfied and loyal customers are more likely to convert, stay, and grow their relationship (and lifetime value), and they’re also more likely to be vocal brand advocates. Positive experiences naturally translate into organic word-of-mouth marketing, attracting and converting new customers without expensive marketing campaigns and sales teams. PLG and Customer Experience work hand-in-hand to create a self-sustaining growth engine fueled by customer loyalty and organic promotion.

Benefits for You, and For Your Customers

All our customers—all customers?—seek easy-to-use, intuitive products and services that solve their needs and help seamlessly accomplish their goals. What they want to know is clear: “Will your offering help me do this, in an easy and enjoyable way?” There are many ways that a PLG model can consistently drive greater value for you and your customers. They include:  

  1. Seamless Self-Start: Intuitive interfaces and self-service options empower customers to independently explore and learn.
  2. Immediate Value: Freemium models and trials let customers experience benefits before committing to a paid plan, and make it easy to convert.
  3. Transparency and Control: Customers get clear pricing and flexible plans to choose what best fits their needs and budget.
  4. Data-Driven Relevance: Analyzing customer interaction data allows for more personalized, relevant experiences, and greater engagement.
  5. Customer-Driven Improvement: Companies actively seek feedback to continuously improve products, services, and experiences; better products = happier customers.
  6. Greater Satisfaction: This customer-centric approach to design creates more intuitive, enjoyable products, driving higher customer satisfaction and advocacy.

Knock Down Organizational Silos, and Align Them Around Your Customers

In many less customer-centric organizations, embedded silos and lack of alignment around the customer make it difficult to see how and where customer journeys create bottlenecks and stall progression. But with a PLG strategy, the product is the experience; success depends on aligning around customer needs in ways that drive awareness, adoption, and engagement. 

PLG emphasizes collaboration across departments, encouraging cross-functional teams to understand and prioritize customer needs. Transitioning to a customer-led approach requires organizational alignment and a commitment to breaking down silos. By uniting all teams under the shared goal of enhancing customer value, PLG cultivates and enables an org-wide culture of product-focused, experience-led collaboration and innovation.

Product-Led Growth = Experience-Led Growth

It’s hard to leverage a product-led growth strategy without also being experience-led. In fact, I’d say it’s nearly impossible to succeed in PLG without a focus on CX. In the age of PLG, a great product is your best marketing strategy, and exceptional customer experiences are your most effective sales strategy. 

By prioritizing exceptional customer experiences—essentially ‘baking CX in’ to your products and services—you can leverage PLG to consistently and systematically drive sustainable growth.

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