How to get started with implementing a customer-centric growth strategy

Customer-led growth (CLG) is becoming an increasingly popular tactic, and something that many businesses are starting to implement as their main go-to-market strategy. 

However, if your company has mostly been focusing on other strategies (such as product- or sales-led growth), it can be difficult to figure out how to start the transition after you’ve decided to switch it up.

Let’s go through some of the very first steps and processes you can start considering and implementing when you’re thinking about focusing on more customer-centric growth strategies.

Understand your customers

For a successful CLG strategy, the most important thing is very thoroughly understanding your target audience. This is especially important if you’ve previously had a mostly product-led growth strategy, which might mean that you’ve been focusing more on feature development and less on customer research.

The first step here would be to create detailed customer personas—depending on your product or service, there can be many different types. Essentially, you’re making up characters to create a depiction of your target customer(s). 

You can start out with the basics such as name, age, geographic location, income, etc. just to get your thoughts going, and then go deeper. After you’ve figured out who your target customer is, you can start thinking about what they need, want, struggle with, prefer, expect, and so on.

Here’s an example of a basic customer persona depiction by HubSpot:

Source: HubSpot

After you’ve built these profiles, you can start connecting the specific personas to your product or service:

  • How can what you offer solve their main pain points or challenges?
  • What would motivate them most to pick your product or service over others in the space?
  • Which channels would make the most sense for you to reach this person?
  • …and so on.

Most businesses have more than one customer persona, so get together with your team and brainstorm as many as you can come up with. The more detailed and thought-through your personas are, the easier it will be to connect the dots on how you can reach and entice these people to what you’re offering. 

Customer journey mapping

After you have a good idea of who your customers really are through building out your personas, it’s time to think about their (ideal) journey with you.

A customer journey map is essentially a storyline describing every touch point a customer has with your business, from discovery to purchase (and if you get fancy, then beyond that, too).

Here’s a simple example of a customer journey with a retail company:

  1. The customer comes across an ad for an item they Googled
  2. They click on the ad, and end up on the store’s website
  3. They look at the item and scroll through to learn more about it
  4. They add the item into their cart
  5. Ideally, they browse through more items, and add more items into their cart
  6. They check out easily and complete the purchase
  7. They come back to your site and make more purchases in the future

This is a very simple example—there are many more detailed steps in a customer journey that could mean a lot when it comes to the overall customer experience, and it all depends on your specific product or service. If you have an idea for a product, you won’t just invest in producing it and go out and sell it. You should have a look at qualitative market research services.

However, most businesses can sketch out their initial “ideal” customer journey, and then start using it to identify touchpoints where you can engage with and provide more value to your customers. 

The most efficient way to start out with polishing the customer journey is to identify any snags or roadblocks. There are several tools out there that allow you to build your ideal journey, and then actually watch how, when, and why your real customers go through it. They can also identify hard points, such as:

  • Which pages your customers are on when they close the tab without making a purchase (or whatever your end goal is)?
  • Which elements of the checkout do they spend the most time on?
  • How many pages did the customer browse through before leaving?

This can help you start creating hypotheses such as…:

  • Perhaps some pages are too hard to navigate and get out of? How can we make them easier to browse?
  • Maybe our checkout process is too complicated, can we make it easier and/or shorter?
  • Could we make browsing through our selection easier by suggesting related items or services, so the customer doesn’t have to go out and find them on their own?

These are all just examples, but you get the idea—by creating your ideal customer journey and then identifying faults or hard points in it, you can start really thinking about how you can improve the overall customer experience. 

Putting customer feedback and data to use 

Direct customer feedback is absolutely the most valuable asset you have when trying to improve the overall customer experience. You can collect feedback through: 

  • Customer surveys
  • Customer reviews
  • Direct interactions
  • KPIs such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

When you’re trying to implement a customer-led growth strategy, involving your customers’ real opinion and feedback in every development or improvement process you undertake is extremely important. 

Ask your customers for their input as often as you can, and always work towards improving your products or services based their feedback and needs. 

Building real relationships

Remember—the customer-led growth strategy has the customer and their experience front and center, and all of your focus should be on improving it. This means attempting to build real, long-term relationships, and in the process, creating loyal customers who truly feel like they’re cared for.

This involves all the things we’ve mentioned before (providing excellent customer service, being responsive to their needs, actively seeking feedback, etc.) but also making them feel like they’re a part of something more than just a sales process.

Try to encourage and reward loyal customers who advocate for your brand. This can include referral programs, special offers, loyalty rewards, user-generated content, etc. Invite them back, make them feel special, and communicate at every step.

Always collaborate and iterate 

Focusing on the customer more than you ever have before doesn’t do much if it’s just one person or department that’s committed to it. Encourage collaboration between different departments within your business. 

This should include marketing, sales, customer support, design, and product development. Everyone should be aligned with the customer-centric approach.

Create discussions around new processes, provide training if needed, and foster a company culture that values customer feedback and delivering exceptional customer experiences over everything else.

And remember—implementing a customer-led growth strategy is an ongoing process that requires dedication and commitment to meeting your customers' needs, as well as flexibility and an open mind to test, improve, and iterate. 

By putting your customers first, you can build strong, sustainable, and profitable relationships that drive long-term growth.

Elen Veenpere