11 ways to gather and use customer insights
The ultimate goal for any brand is to deliver the sort of CX that turns one-timers into loyal customers, and the only way you’re going to do that is with data.
When it comes to improving the customer experience, you need to gather all the insights at your disposal to form a picture of what you’re doing well, where you’re falling short, and where your competitors might be doing better. And if you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog, we’ll reveal the brand benefits of customer insights, explain how to gather them, and share how to use those insights to transform your business. But first, let’s start with what customer insights are all about.
What are customer insights?
Customer insights represent an analysis of the qualatative and quantitative data you gather on your customers (or those of your competitors), along with the patterns formed within that data.
Using customer data and other forms of analytics, your business can start to spot certain behavioural and buying trends, with the overarching aim of enhancing your marketing, sales and customer service operations. Customer insights can also be used to inform more effective decision-making – ultimately helping to improve the buyer experience.
Customer insights should factor in every touchpoint on the customer journey – from direct customer feedback and form fills, to social media mutterings and website analytics. With an inexhaustible list of qualatative and quantitative metrics to choose from, it’s best to determine which are the most relevant to your business (and the customers in question), before putting them to good use.
And use them you must!
Why your brand needs customer insights
How do you plan on improving the customer experience if you don’t know what your target customers want, or how they currently feel about your brand?
Understanding their perception of you, along with how you measure up against your competitors, is essential for making the sort of improvements that consumers really care about. And customer insights are your window into this invaluable world.
They’re also great for creating buyer personas (y’know, those fictional misters and misses that represent your target audience). Once you understand the demographics of your ideal customer – from who they are, where they live and what they do, to what they need, what they hate, and what pulls them in – you start to make some seismic strides in your brand journey.
An in-depth knowledge of your customers allows you to:
- Personalize your marketing campaigns
- Carve out an appealing USP
- Create an emotional connection with your buyers
- Deliver relevant content
- Set the right price point for your product
- Develop product iterations based on customer pain points
- Market the features your key demographic is looking for
And the best bit? All of this leads to increased customer satisfaction, improved customer loyalty, and reduced customer churn. Win-win!
But how do you gather all those lovely insights to begin with?
How to gather customer insights
If you’re looking to collect customer insights, here are 11 of our favourite ways to pull in super useful data on the people who matter most.
- Analyze your online reviews
The first place to start is always with direct customer reviews, as this is where people tend to be most honest. You need to know how your customers really feel about your brand, products and services, and while you might read some reviews that fail to fill you with joy, this level of authenticity is essential if you’re going to get to grips with customer sentiment.
Online reviews allow you to observe what your customers perceive as the high points and low points of your brand – meaning you can take action to rectify any shortcomings.
- Factor in competitor reviews
As well as looking at your own reviews, it’s smart to look at how your competitors are being reviewed. Why? Well, because knowledge is power, and there’s plenty of information you can gather about your target audience from competitor reviews. This gives you the chance to spy any gaps between customer expectation and competitor reality – allowing your product to swoop in and fill those gaps with a superior offering.
- Take data from your website
Your brand site offers a wealth of rich, layered, insightful information on your customers – so don’t let it go to waste. With a tool like Google Analytics, you can gather and analyze reams of data – from campaign data (which pages are performing well and driving sales), to behavioral data (what keywords led people to your site), to demographic data (people’s age, location, and just about anything else you want to know).
- Pinpoint purchasing activity
Looking at the purchasing patterns and preferences of your customers is a sure-fire way to heighten your understanding of how your products and services are performing, when they’re most popular (and who with), and what steps you might need to take to rectify any lags in your sales. You can gather this info using your CRM or ecommerce platform, or through building preference centers into a platform that requires an account (such as an email list).
- Capitalize on customer surveys
Ah, the good old customer survey. A treasure trove of insight and inspiration. Today’s online survey tools allow you to reach a large number of people with little effort, but whether you share your survey through social media, emails, or in your app, try to segment them for more accurate insights. For example, you can split your customer base into lapsed customers, new customers, and loyal customers – allowing you to customize your questions for maximum intel.
- Pulse check your customer sentiment
Measuring customer satisfaction is crucial in your journey to brand domination, and our old friend NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a great way to gauge customer sentiment. This customer satisfaction benchmark tells you how likely your customers are to recommend you to family or friends, which is an accurate representation of how happy they are with your brand overall. Whether you ask this after a purchase, following a sales call, or at the resolution of a complaint, all data should be considered.
- Carry out situational analysis
While customer surveys may be worth their weight in gold, there are some things they may never reveal. For example, your customers might not be aware that something could be better, without being shown the options – and you don’t want a competitor to get there first. Gap analysis and in-person interviews can help customers to communicate flaws that they might not even be aware of.
- Conduct customer interviews
Speaking of which, customer interviews are a savvy route for anyone wanting to collect more in-depth answers than a survey can bring. Carrying out one-to-one interviews with a selection of your customers – whether in person, online, or over the phone – gives you the chance to discuss their answers and insights in far greater detail. This allows you to pick up on those all-important micro-moments that you might otherwise have missed.
- Revel in the wins
There are some incredibly useful insights to be gained from your brand’s success stories, case studies, and testimonials. By delving into the problem your customer was facing, examining how they found you and why they chose you, and exploring how your product or service resolved their challenge, you get an objective view of the benefits that your brand can bring to others.
- Employ social listening
There’s nothing like social media to give you a no-holes-barred view of how customers view your brand. People rarely censor themselves when talking about a brand online – whether it’s their shortcomings, or what they’re excelling at – which means it’s the optimum platform for gathering honest customer insights. You can set up Google Alerts for keywords or your brand name, as well as asking for feedback directly through posts and polls.
- Embrace real-time user testing
With the world of technology at your fingertips, running A/B tests on certain variables is a great way to uncover customer preference. Used for websites, apps, and any other online experience, A/B tests allow you to watch users (in real time) as they navigate and interact with different elements – from the placement of buttons, to variations on copy. Once you’ve got your stats, you simply go with the majority (and back it up with proof!)
Use customer insights data to transform your business
Once you’ve gathered a raft of customer insights, you’re going to want to put them to good use. But it does need to be a raft, because one source alone isn’t enough to give you a complete insight into the experiences of your customers, or their perceptions of your brand.
Using a combination of qualatative and quantitative data – gathered through a happy mix of surveys, social listening, website stats, competitor performance, customer interviews, and any other metric you might want to employ – you can start to form a picture of everything that makes up your brand in the eyes of your customers.
You need to pay particular attention to what people love about you, what your customers’ frustrations are with your brand (this could be anything from customer service to product performance), and how you’re performing against your competitors. These insights will help you to make research-backed decisions about any changes your company might want to implement.
It’s incredibly important to act on the insights you’ve gathered from your customers; otherwise, what’s the point? If you’re doing something that your customers love, you know to give more time and investment to that piece of magic; if there’s an area in which you’re falling short, you have the insight you need to make a change for the better; if your competitors are outperforming you in a particular area, you have your direction set for future improvements and product iterations.
Customer insights can completely transform your business, but you must be prepared to listen to them – and act on them.
Examples of customer insights
Let’s look at brands using customer insights to good effect, shall we?
- Evive Nutrition
In this example, we see how customer insights can be used to support a brand’s growth strategy – particularly when expanding into new geographies.
After revolutionizing healthy eating in Canada, Evive Nutrition turned their attention to the US – but in order to ensure maximum success, they carried out customer testing to understand the flavours that US customers most wanted to see. Making sure that everyone in the company had access to these insights helped the company to gather momentum, and return the desired results.
- Little Moons
In this example, we see the importance of honing in on your real customers, amid the noise of social media.
Japanese ice cream brand Little Moons were overjoyed when their sales increased tenfold after going viral on TikTok, but they needed a way to capitalize on their newfound fame once the views died down. Through consumer profiling, Little Moons leveraged their consumer insights to find out who their ideal customer was, and who was most likely to buy from them again and again. This insight allowed the company to target the right customers, who would ultimately drive sales long-term.
In this example, we see the value of getting to know your customers’ preferences, and meeting them where they’re at with the content they crave.
Using Machine Learning, Netflix has made an art of anticipating their customers’ desires – before they even know what they’re likely to want. The recommendations engine analyzes their customers’ interactions with the preferences of their other users to present the content they’re most likely to enjoy. Heightened customer satisfaction and increased loyalty in one.
- Csek Creative
In this example, we see the true value of A/B testing, and just how much impact a seemingly small change can make.
When digital marketing agency Csek Creative considered a new tag line for their already established website, they wanted to make sure that the change would be a positive one. They employed A/B testing to try out the new tagline against the old, and discovered an impressive increase of 8.2% in their click-through rate.
How can Forsta help?
Gathering customer insights is made a whole lot easier when you have the right software at your disposal, and Forsta’s market research survey software is as good as it gets.
At Forsta, we’re firm believers that what you don’t know can’t do you a great deal of good – which is why our industry-leading software helps you to investigate markets, size up your competitors, and scope out new territories.
Using the tech at our disposal, we’ll get to the bottom of what your ideal customers want, create an accurate picture of who they are, and highlight the not-to-be-missed opportunities that are waiting for you to seize them.
With a huge palette of research tools to draw on, we’ll unmask your market through:
- Planning: Helping you to work out what you want to investigate, and planning a market insight project to match.
- Investigating: Using a bespoke mix of tools – from video surveys and social media monitoring to on-the-ground investigations and deep-dive desk research – to ask the questions you need answering.
- Analyzing: Digging into the data to give you crystal clear stories, backed by facts.
And then it’s time for action! (We can help with that bit too).
Request a demo to find cut more.
How well do you know your customers?
The truth is, however, well you think you know your customers, there’s always more insights to be uncovered. People change, markets change, needs change, and you change. So, if you want to stay ahead of the curve and keep your brand relevant for the future, customer insights really are where it’s at.
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