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How to create a robust customer insights strategy in 6 steps

You know the expression, “If a tree falls in a forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same could apply to customer experience. If you don’t ask your customers about their experience, and try to understand it, how will you create better products that really have an impact? 

You need to get inside the minds of your target market and understand your customers’ product experience by collecting and analyzing customer data and insights. Because if you don’t, you’ll never know how to improve. 

That’s why having a customer insights strategy is crucial to achieving user and business success.

Last updated

12 Oct 2022

Reading time

9 min


Creating a strategy to gather meaningful customer insights can be challenging—especially if you don’t know what kind of insights you need to collect. 

This is your guide to crafting a robust customer insights strategy to inspire and remove the guesswork in your own process. We’ll help you visualize how this process could look for your business, including potential challenges and opportunities, so you can better achieve your goals. 

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A powerful 6-step customer insights framework for your business

A customer insights strategy (or framework) is the game plan your business develops for collecting, understanding, and interpreting customer data—to create better, more relevant products and services. 

A great customer insights strategy lets you successfully communicate and engage with your target customers, so you can:

  • Understand customer wants and needs

  • Better allocate time, money, and energy

  • Prioritize projects with high ROI

  • Design marketing materials that reflect your customers’ needs

  • Personalize customer communication

  • Take a customer-centered approach to updating and improving your product

Use the steps below to inspire and supplement your customer insights strategy—and create the products, services, and experiences that matter most to your users:

1. Embrace cross-functional collaboration

It’s not only up to your customer-facing teams to collect and analyze customer data or trends in customer behavior, as relying on one team can lead to missed insights or opportunities. 

Instead, teams across marketing, sales, customer service, product design, development, and leadership all need to leverage their own encounters and experiences with customers for more robust insights. 

Why not use the goldmine of information already at your disposal as part of your customer insights strategy? Here’s how to embrace cross-functional collaboration to gather customer insights and improve the customer experience (CX): 

  • Use a unified CRM for company-wide insights into customer interactions and experiences, customer profiles, and purchasing behavior. Use this information to create detailed user personas, and improve product ideation and inventory management. 

  • Keep your insights together in an all-in-one dashboard, so your teams can easily visualize the customer experience, and quickly spot customer responses to product changes or possible problems. That way, each department can act fast—without waiting on support tickets—to help improve the user experience (UX). 

  • Establish streamlined communication channels: using work-based messaging platforms like Slack helps disparate or remote teams stay on top of crucial customer insights

  • Find your champion: if you’re a large company, allocate full-time representatives from each department to collectively gather and examine customer insights. If you’re part of a smaller business, you might benefit from selecting one person to lead the initiative with input from different departments and teams.

Pro tip: quickly share product experience (PX) insights from Hotjar by integrating it with Slack. Send your teams important customer insights by collecting quantitative and qualitative data from heatmaps, session recordings, and customer feedback. Use your insights to boost cross-functional collaboration, improve the product experience, and better meet and deliver on user needs.

#Hotjar integrations make it easy to keep all your teams in the loop in real time

Hotjar integrations let you share product experience insights in real-time.

2. Define the goals of your strategy

A solid strategy is only as effective as its goals. That’s why you need to identify your specific business and user goals and determine how they relate to the different types of customer insights you want to collect

Answer the following questions to find out the why, who, when, and what of your strategy:

  1. Know your why: what do you want to learn? understand the rationale behind your strategy by asking yourself why you’re collecting these insights and what business objectives you’re trying to achieve.

  2. Know your who: which customer segment are you targeting or trying to learn more about? For example, if your ecommerce company sells hats, you might want to know more about customers who collect hats versus customers who buy hats for practical use. Then, you might collect insights specific to that customer type (i.e. browsing and purchasing behavior) to understand their search habits and collector preferences. 

  3. Know your when: what’s your timeline for collecting and analyzing customer data? When and how will you share your insights with stakeholders? When will you use your insights to map out key actions? 

  4. Know your what: what data do you need? What’s the best way to share this data with your team? What customer insights platforms will you require? What are your project’s limitations regarding scope, budget, and timeline? How will your insights impact product backlog management

3. Map the customer journey 

Creating a customer journey map that shows you the main touchpoints on a user’s journey with your product and brand is crucial for developing a strong customer insights strategy. 

It helps you understand all the points of contact a customer has with your brand—and where to look for rich customer insights. And as more customers experience different things along their journey, you begin to spot trends (or insights) that relate to different customer outcomes—i.e. purchasing your product or churning—so you know what to focus on and improve. 

Customer journey maps also help you better determine customer pain points, behavior, and favorite channels—and spot opportunities for improving your messaging. So, how do you make mapping the customer journey part of your customer insights strategy? 

  • Identify your ideal customer persona (ICP) based on your ideal customer’s characteristics and purchasing behaviors. Keep user personas top of mind while mapping the customer journey to better identify what customers feel, think, or do while searching for a solution. For example, if a SaaS startup’s ICP typically searches for bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content, like customer testimonials and case studies, they can create content that caters better to their users' search journey.   

  • List channels and touchpoints: create a catalog of all your business channels, including social media platforms, websites, ads, face-to-face interactions, or apps, and detail potential customer interactions within those channels. Use your catalog to choose which touchpoints and channels to collect customer insights from. 

  • Map the journey using tools like Visual Paradigm or Smaply and visualize the customer’s experience throughout their journey. Use it to spot any customer friction areas or opportunities for engagement. 

  • Experience the journey firsthand: validate your customer journey map by experiencing it yourself. Watch recordings of user sessions to see if your journey accurately reflects your intended customer path—and if not, refine it.

🔥Pro tip: use Hotjar's Observe tools to help you understand your customer journey and visualize the customer experience. Create Heatmaps of key pages and touchpoints to discover where users click the most throughout their journey and what they ignore—and watch and analyze Recordings of user sessions for granular insights into how users engage with your product.

Hotjar Heatmaps help you see what attracts attention or what gets ignored on your site or digital product, so you can optimize your content for your users.

4. Collect customer insights 

Now that you know which touchpoints you can use to collect and analyze customer insights, you need to find ways to actually collect them. 

Yet, most businesses struggle with gathering accurate and timely data and knowing which data to track. This is particularly true for online businesses, which may have difficulty tracking customer behavior across multiple channels. Remember: you need to determine which factors are most relevant to your customers and track those data points accordingly.

Let’s explore a few ways to gather insights and bolster your customer insights strategy:

  • Use customer analytics tools like Woopra and Google Analytics to learn what customers do within your product, and PX tools like Hotjar to find out why they do those things. Connect the dots between customer choices and lifestyles for a more complete picture of their experience across channels. 

  • Administer surveys and ask your customers directly about their experience. Use Hotjar's NPS survey questions to better understand customer loyalty, or CSAT Surveys to gauge customer satisfaction with your product over time. 

  • Watch recordings of user sessions for direct access to the user experience, including what attracts, distracts, or annoys customers

  • Conduct focus groups and interviews for a more intimate understanding of customer sentiment across different groups of users. Get a fresh perspective on a new product or feature, or validate your hypothesis about product-market fit

  • Leverage internal insights from customer service, marketing, sales, leadership, and product teams

  • Look at customer reviews on websites like G2, Capterra, TrustPilot, TrustRadius, and Google for unsolicited comments about your brand or product to find out what you could do better

  • Use social listening tools like Brand24 or Brandwatch to track mentions of your brand or product online. See what customers say when they aren’t speaking to you directly and access unfiltered feedback and input from a diverse group of users

  • Ask for feedback by placing feedback widgets or forms along key touchpoints in the customer journey to understand the user and product experience. Ask your users to rate their experience and give a reason for their score for focused customer experience analysis.

#Hotjar's Feedback widget gives you access to important customer sentiments as they explore. Source: Hotjar
Hotjar's Feedback widget gives you access to important customer sentiments as they explore. Source: Hotjar

5. Analyze and share insights

Part of analyzing and sharing your insights is understanding how reliable your data sources are—or how truthful your customers are—based on the medium or platform you're using.

When analyzing and sharing customer insights, adopt a holistic approach to understand what influences those insights. For example, you might notice that customers give positive feedback about your B2B product, but then decide to churn anyway. Customers don’t always know the rationale behind their choices. So, consider the big picture behind your data—rather than basing your product decisions on one source of truth. 

Here are a few ways you can analyze and share data and insights across your business: 

  • Use Google Analytics’ Goal Funnel tool: in addition to using GA for quantitative customer insights, track customers through their purchase process with its Goal Funnel tool. It identifies when customers abandon their purchase on a specific page, making it very useful for ecommerce businesses and marketing teams. 

  • Educate teammates on how to interpret data: if you’re using specific tools or charts to display your data, make sure all relevant parties know how to read and understand your visualizations. 

  • Make it easy for all teams to access important insights: if you’re using Hotjar Highlights, you can view all your meaningful insights in one place by creating 'Collections' and sharing important snippets of user behavior across teams to validate your assumptions and spot product issues.

#Hotjar Highlights help you filter out the noise and share important insights with your team
Hotjar Highlights help you filter out the noise and share important insights with your team

6. Refine your process 

Because of the variety of data out there, and the growing number of channels and touchpoints where you can gather it, it's important to remember that your customer insights strategy is an ever-evolving process

You need to constantly evaluate your business objectives and how they tie into the customer insights you collect. That way, you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of customer needs, while allocating your resources to collecting the most relevant insights. 

How to refine your process and collect the right insights for your strategy: 

  • Update your customer journey map regularly to identify new touchpoints and determine if they’re a potential source of fresh insights

  • Run an audit of your tech stack to determine which tools actually help you gather insights and better understand your customers. Sometimes, too many tools or data sources can clutter your data and confuse your efforts.

  • Survey your customers and ask them about anything you might be missing in the product or customer experience. Or, administer product-market fit surveys to gauge whether your product still stacks up to competitors and meets user needs. 

#Use an NPS survey with additional questions to find out the reasons behind users’ scores.
Use an NPS survey with additional questions to find out the reasons behind users’ scores.

Customer insights strategy: the best way to deliver on user needs 

A rock-solid customer insights strategy helps you make more informed product improvements and product roadmap decisions—and deliver on shifting user needs. 

Make understanding your customers and which parts of your product or service truly work—and why—a central part of your strategy to create better and new products that meet real-world needs. And with a tech stack that includes customer data and product experience (PX) insights, rest assured that all your insights are up to date and in one place, so you can easily share them with your team and make quick decisions that drive growth. 

FAQs about creating a customer insights strategy