Preflight Conversations

All things product-led growth and digital customer success

We hosted a panel of incredible leaders and experts on the Preflight Community Deep Dives to discuss product-led growth and digital CS
December 22, 2022
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Mukundh Krishna

We hosted a panel of experts to discuss strategies that product companies can adopt to generate a steady stream of users who become paying customers. Discover how to keep these customers returning with a perfectly-tuned Digital CS system.

We hosted a panel of incredible leaders and experts on the Preflight Community Deep Dives to discuss product-led growth and digital customer success:

  1. Jyo Shukla, Author and Director, CX and Digital Transformation @ S Consulting Group
  2. Dickey Singh, CEO and Founder @
  3. Aron Lanclos, Vice President of Customer Success @ OwnBackup 

In this session, our guests focused on the following: 

  1. What is PLG?
  2. How to balance the human touch in digital CS that powers your PLG?
  3. An effective digital customer success strategy and consistent feedback loops
  4. How to prioritize feedback
  5. Incorporating sales feedback from the buyer journey
  6. How do you get started in building a product-led growth strategy? 

What is PLG?

Product-led growth (PLG) is when the product drives almost everything from new customer acquisition, usage of the product itself, adoption, retention, renewals, and expansion. Let’s break this down into minor characteristics of PLG:

  1. It should be inherently easy to use and adopt for the end user
  2. Aha! moments - that help your customer get to value faster
  3. A well-coordinated, cohesive, and consistent customer experience
  4. It needs to have some elements of a freemium model or trial subscription 
  5. Let customers be part of something bigger: a community where they can interact with their peers through the product 
  6. A customized user experience that keeps them coming back for more

One of the misconceptions in the market is that PLG is for companies with a freemium model or trial subscription. We draw rigid boundaries and consider this part of the definition exhaustive when it is not! The best practices from PLG apply to companies selling to enterprise clients as well.

How to ensure the human touch in digital CS powers your PLG

First impressions last. Evaluate yourself on the first impressions you are making by asking the following questions: 

  1. How does the customer journey fit into the overall strategy?
  2. Do I need to enable my customers with more training modules to shorten the time to first value?
  3. Do I completely understand the complexity of the product, and how can I break it down into digestible chunks to enable the product itself to be simple for my end user?
  4. Are the human elements in the customer journey ready to scale?

Ensure your messaging and outreach are familiar when enabling digital customer success. While your intentions are correct, the customer needs to resonate and speak with your way of communicating with them. Your digitally led customer journey must empower your customer with the choice to talk to a human if they need to. Bearing in mind that a human mind is behind all automation helps us be human-centered in our approach to scale. 

It's essential to provide each stakeholder with tailored data, metrics, insights, and updates. When communicating with a C-level executive, an operator, or a power user, make sure you present information in a way that resonates with them. Give them the option to talk to a real person with just one click. You must stay on top of your resource management to keep your word.

An effective digital customer success strategy and consistent feedback loops

In the post-sales world, a no is never a no. It is a yes with a condition. There are golden nuggets of customer feedback beyond NPS and interactions with the CSMs. Companies must effectively enable different teams to bring all this feedback to a centralized location. This then has to get delivered not just to the product teams and your customers but enable or spark conversations internally as well. 

There are two outcomes to letting feedback flow seamlessly: 

  1. Good product ideas will lead to a good roadmap and enhancements for your product.
  2. For customers with the wrong expectations of your product, it is a chance to help manage the expectations better and educate them about what your product is meant to do versus what it is not built to do. 

It is a win-win situation. Internally, the leadership team should be responsible for how to enable that feedback to come in from different teams. What part of it then gets discussed with the product team? And how much do we discuss and brainstorm with your customers? Validate the feedback by asking your other customers what they feel about the feedback you’ve already collected, then give it to the product team to plan how it can be implemented. 

Here are checks that can make sure feedback doesn’t get lost: 

  1. Where does the feedback loop close?
  2. Where and how does the information flow? What do we do with it? 
  3. What should be the outcome of the feedback? 
  4. What will help you get buy-in for budget and tools?

How to prioritize feedback

View yourself like a democratic government and create an organized procedure to collect feedback. For instance, your SMB segment can use upvotes, downvotes, and cross-votes. Establish a customer community to enable customers to share what works for them. It's okay to turn down a popular request and explain how there is another way to satisfy the same need. Disagreeing respectfully is beneficial for everyone! The solutions presented by customers and validated in your community may not be the best ones to utilize. Your customer community should foster open communication and conversations.

Customers who open the most tickets during onboarding influence the product the most! Do not ignore the outliers because these accounts churn without a trace. Pay attention to those accounts that will never complain, never upvote or downvote. We tend to overlook the quieter folks who are just as crucial to our success. Not only do we want to retain them as customers, but they could also have valuable insights that might otherwise be drowned out by louder voices. 

Incorporating sales feedback from the buyer journey

Pre-boarding is communicating with potential customers with an 80% chance of closing. You want to get them excited about working with you and explain what they can expect as customers. You want feedback from those who didn't use you for whatever reason, e.g., missing features, cheaper alternatives, etc.

It is said sales teams are busy hunting, and CS busy farming. So, the sales teams often feel excluded from the customer journey and feedback process. We need to bridge this gap and include feedback from customers who did not make a purchase, even if the deal didn't go through. Customer Success isn't only the responsibility of the Customer Success team - Product, Marketing, and Sales need to be involved too. We should all incorporate customer feedback (from current customers and prospects) into our Customer Success strategies. It's something that we can all do better in this industry.

How do you get started in building a product-led growth strategy? 

Start simple. Complement your product-led growth strategy with a customer-led growth model. Here are four things that will get started with:

  1. How can your customer journey guide your customers toward their outcomes
  2. Plan coordinated and personalized messaging and how you can gauge and measure communication in a scaled model
  3. Account segmentation strategy and how you're capturing customer usage data
  4. Pay close attention to the industry trends

It can be tricky to comprehend the differences between products that lend themselves more to product-led growth and those that don't. To determine the best strategy, the sales leadership, product marketing, and customer success managers must come together and agree on the right approach. No one-size-fits-all solution will work for everyone, so finding the right balance is vital. 

We host experts in the onboarding, implementation, CS, and PS functions to discuss the most pressing issues in the post-sales org. Join Preflight to be a part of our next discussion with more experts like this!

More resources

  1. What it takes for CS and Product teams to collaborate successfully
  2. The role of the CSM in successful customer onboarding
  3. A ‘readiness kit’ for customer onboarding

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Usha Kalva
Community & Partnerships @ Rocketlane

Usha is a Community Manager at Preflight. She's been an EIR, runs a successful restaurant, and is inclined toward the social sciences. In a parallel universe, she'd have been a wildlife photographer.

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