GuidesCustomer research16 top customer insight tools for effective customer research

16 top customer insight tools for effective customer research

Last updated

16 March 2024

Author

Chloe Garnham

Reviewed by

Hugh Good

Gone are the days when you were left wondering why your customers weren’t more engaged, why they didn’t respond well to a new product, or why they dropped off before paying for their shopping cart.

With advanced customer insight tools readily available, there’s no reason to wonder. It’s simpler than ever to deeply understand your customers, discover new insights, and ultimately deliver better experiences.

We’ve rounded up the top customer insight tools to save you time and ensure your customer research provides real value.

What is customer research?

Customer research offers insights into your customers, helping you gain a deep understanding of their wants, needs, and pain points. It allows you to recognize their key motivations and behaviors so that you can deliver better, more satisfying products.

While there are some similarities, it’s important to recognize that customer research is distinct from market research and user research.

  • Market research is typically conducted in the early stages of product development to understand market readiness, size, competition, and demographics.

  • User research focuses on a specific subset of product users or aspects of a product. This helps product teams develop user-centric products.

  • Customer research is the process of gathering and analyzing customer data and information to gain key insights for more customer-centric products and services.

What are customer insight tools?

Your customers leave a trail behind them every time they perform an action. This trail helps you better understand them, including their wants, needs, and preferences, so that you can continually evolve your business and boost customer centricity.

Customer insight tools (or consumer insight tools) are technologies that can gather, store, and analyze information about customer behaviors and preferences.

Here are some common types of customer insight software:

Survey tools

Online surveys are a common way to better understand your customers’ wants and needs.

Whether it’s a pop-up questionnaire that appears after a customer interaction, a mailout, or a post-purchase survey, these tools can help your team get into your customers’ minds at key parts of the purchasing journey.

Analytics tools

Analytics, in general, can reveal more about your customers, helping you improve your offering.

Web analytics tools analyze website visits in terms of demographics, visit duration, pages visited, and more. This helps highlight patterns and trends among your customers and can inform essential website improvements over time.

Diagnostic analytics tools can help reveal issues and areas of friction where customers may be slowed down unnecessarily. Meanwhile, predictive analytics tools offer insights into future customer behavior, helping you plan and forecast more effectively.

Heatmap tools

Heatmap and click-tracking tools enable you to discover your customers’ movements on your website or app. These are visual representations of the customer’s journey as they interact with your product, helping your team discover what is and isn’t delivering sales conversions.

Usability testing

Tools that allow your team to test user experiences with your products can be very helpful for launches and post-launch optimization.

Usability testing tools can collate and analyze data on areas of friction in products, helping highlight where you can offer more seamless and meaningful experiences.

Customer feedback

Some tools can analyze customer feedback (through the net promoter score, for example) to help your team discover overall sentiment toward the product and business. This can help you better understand customers and make improvements at a more rapid pace.

Social media listening

Social media listening tools can help you understand current trends, mentions, commonly asked questions, and overall sentiment toward your business.

These tools analyze comments and mentions about the business and its products, providing insights that can lead to positive actions.

AI tools

Many new artificial intelligence (AI) tools can assist with consumer insights.

Machine learning tools, for example, can process large amounts of data and help teams predict future customer behavior and anticipate trends.

They can also surface key data quickly, facilitating prompt action. This can boost proactive decision-making and help the business plan more efficiently for the future.

Why are customer insights platforms crucial for businesses?

Deeply understanding your customers helps you deliver much better experiences for them. Customer insights software and platforms can make the process of learning about your customers significantly faster, easier, and more effective.

A customer insight platform can help in several essential areas:

Data accuracy

Advanced tools can help researchers collect, store, and analyze data for faster and more accurate insights. This helps boost the amount of data that researchers can gather, improving accuracy.

Optimized experiences

Teams can use the insights obtained from large datasets to optimize customer experiences.

Detailed data from a website checkout, for example, can help teams understand where there are areas of friction and then streamline those experiences for better conversions. Obtaining this amount of data is rarely possible without advanced tools.

Better decision-making

Relying on larger datasets, more accurate data, and tools such as machine learning and predictive analytics tools enables you to anticipate trends and consumer behavior. With these insights, you can make better and more informed decisions, boosting business success over time. 

Personalization

Customer data allows you to unlock more in-depth details and better understand each customer, meaning you can personalize their experiences to make them more satisfying.

Consumers increasingly desire personalization. Research has shown that 74% of customers feel frustrated if a website’s content isn’t personalized.

Boosted customer engagement

Data that helps teams streamline and optimize the customer experience tends to boost customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty, upgrading overall business performance.

What should you look for in a customer insight tool?

The customer insight tool should help you deliver optimized experiences by providing data and information that tells you more about your customers’ needs, preferences, and frustrations. Assessing the tool’s usefulness in this respect is the most important part of deciding whether it’s right for you and your business.

Here are some other key considerations:

Relevance

The right customer insight tool will be relevant and helpful. It should align with your overall business (or project) goals.

Scalability

As your business grows, the tools you use should be able to scale with you, providing more detailed insights. If the tools you onboard don’t scale, you’ll be forced to migrate to new platforms, which can be a time-consuming, convoluted, and expensive process.

Security

When dealing with data, especially personally identifiable information (PII), your systems must be highly secure and compliant with all regulations. For multinational companies, this can mean being compliant across multiple jurisdictions.

Choosing platforms and tools that are both secure and compliant is essential. Examples include systems that offer AI protection, complex password protection, encryption, and other security measures.

Keep in mind that only the necessary people should be able to access the data to minimize risk.

User-friendliness

Ease of use is another key factor to look out for. In today’s world, people expect the highest level of user experience from whatever they use, whether that’s smartphones, websites, or software. As a result, the technologies your business adopts should provide the same level of usability.

All tools and platforms should be simple to use and obtain results effectively to save the team time and avoid any unnecessary friction.

Cost-effectiveness

Any platforms or tools your business uses should be cost-effective. Performing a cost–benefit analysis can be helpful to assess the overall advantages a tool may provide over time. This can allow you to understand whether the initial investment will eventually pay off as well as the different tiers and costs that will be available to you as you scale. 

Positive customer support

The company behind that platform must be able to support your team as you use their tool. Having multiple points of contact—through live chat, phone calls, emails, and more—is important to ensure you get the guidance and answers you need to keep your workflows running smoothly.

High ratings

Before onboarding new tools, read reviews from impartial customers to gauge their opinions and experiences. This will help you determine whether the tool will help progress your business goals or cause problems later on.

Best customer insight platforms for customer research

Here’s a roundup of the customer insight tools we think are most effective for customer research. Bear in mind that the best tool for one business will be different than for another.

One of the most commonly used insight tools is Google Trends. This free tool helps users understand and analyze search terms over time, compare searchers, drill into regional data, and access real-time data to spot patterns.

Google Trends can also help researchers and marketers better understand what’s currently trending, what consumers are paying attention to, and what search terms are more important than others.

You can use information from Google Trends to boost website metadata, create compelling content that draws consumers in, and develop products that are highly relevant in today’s world.

Google Analytics

Another well-known Google tool is Google Analytics. It allows researchers to track and analyze user interactions on websites and apps. This can provide key insights into users’ behavior when interacting with your company’s online content.

Google Analytics covers a range of areas, including demographics, conversions, webpage visits, page drop-offs, sources of website traffic, and specific user data. The platform also provides real-time data and custom reports to help researchers understand what’s working and where improvements can be made.

Dovetail

Dovetail is our all-in-one platform that helps teams streamline their customer research and reach actionable insights faster.

The platform offers visually engaging dashboards and concise summaries that cater to the needs of various stakeholders to boost communication and collaboration across teams. These reports translate raw data into actionable insights.

Additionally, flexibility allows for customization, ensuring that the reports align with specific objectives for strategic planning and continuous improvement.

Exploding Topics

Exploding Topics was created to predict trends before they occur. With this tool, users can understand what’s growing in popularity and interest across the internet to jump on new and trending topics.

Within Exploding Topics’ searchable database, users can view categories and niches, identify trends, and gain data-driven insights.

The platform is popular with marketers, creators, and researchers who use the information gathered to create content that draws in internet users.

Hotjar

Hotjar provides a range of tools to better understand how users interact with websites and apps. The tool takes you beyond the numbers to offer heatmap technology that tracks users’ website activity to highlight areas of interest and friction. It also has recording capabilities.

Feedback allows businesses to hear thoughts from real-life users, while surveys bring the voice of the customer into the design and development process.

All of this information can be used to optimize the web and app experience for increased engagement and loyalty.

Mixpanel

Companies can access real-time analytics with Mixpanel. This tool helps you measure and then optimize customer engagement across mobile and web.

Use Mixpanel to track and gain insights into customer behavior, including scrolling, button clicks, and page visits. You’ll be able to access live updates, create metrics by which to measure growth and retention, and slice and dice data to spot key patterns and trends. This increases the quality of data-led decisions across your product offering.

Zendesk

Zendesk offers businesses increased connectivity with their customers alongside customer research tools that unlock new insights. Built-in customer satisfaction surveys, for example, give you the chance to track how customer support teams are performing.

Zendesk also allows you to make the most of the customer data you collect through the customer service process to drive more accurate decision-making and positive change across the business.

Kissmetrics

Teams can improve their metrics with Kissmetrics, a tool that allows you to see, identify, and understand analytics to make essential changes. This can help drive better product and marketing decisions.

The platform simplifies tracking customer behavior through a business’s web offering, spotting where customers are dropping off, reducing customer churn, and boosting revenue through optimization.

Kissmetrics also makes it easy to test user flows to identify the sequences that work and those that don’t, ultimately offering the best possible user experience.

Typeform

Typeform makes sending engaging quizzes and surveys to customers simple. The platform’s user-friendly survey design can help boost engagement and make providing feedback more interesting for customers.

Easy embedding allows teams to include surveys at opportune moments to obtain relevant reactions and feedback. This essential data can then be used to make critical changes across the business.

Typeform users appear to be highly satisfied with the product, with 96% of customers saying they had a better brand experience after making the switch.

Numerator

Numerator offers first-party consumer-sourced data to help organizations better understand their customers. Teams also gain the ability to interact with customers to learn about their attitudes and opinions, improving decision-making.

Some Numerator use cases include analyzing shopper behavior in relation to demographics, utilizing data to show brand value for investors, and better understanding media consumption to develop more relevant products.

Flame Analytics

While most customer insight tools and platforms focus on optimizing customer experiences in the digital world, some also help enhance in-person experiences. Whether it’s a sports venue, a shopping mall, a promotional pop-up, or a physical store, analytics can prove very useful.

Flame Analytics unlocks traffic information about a user’s physical space and key data for boosted planning, optimization, and best practices. These advanced analytics then seamlessly integrate with other sources, allowing businesses to act on key insights.

Trymata

Trymata’s research tools can help you and your team better understand customers through usability testing, enabling you to improve the website experience.

You can use the tool to conduct A/B testing, utilize data to drive design decisions, identify the best user experience flows, gain insights from real users, and conduct real-time tests to spot pivotal friction points.

Hootsuite Insights

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that helps businesses stay connected with their customers across all their social channels.

The platform will allow your business to research its social media audience and gain key insights. This involves gathering demographic data to understand who makes up your company’s audience, discovering which social media platforms your audience prefers, and using surveys to validate and better understand customers.

With Hootsuite, you can also analyze the content your competitors are creating to understand how your business is performing in relation to them and where improvements could be made.

SurveyMonkey

Surveys are a common way to gain key insights into customers’ thoughts, opinions, and sentiments toward a business. SurveyMonkey provides answers to more than 20 million questions every day, enabling organizations to gain a competitive advantage.

Through SurveyMonkey, teams can deploy online surveys and forms to gain key data about customers and then make relevant decisions to improve their experiences.

UserTesting

The UserTesting platform allows you to gain direct input from users early in the development process. You can then embed that feedback into product development.

Through UserTesting, teams can more easily identify areas of friction, potential roadblocks, and aspects of products that aren’t working well for users. This valuable feedback can help teams optimize products to be more meaningful and solve customer problems.

Totango

Customer success software platform Totango is designed to help businesses reduce customer churn, increase revenue, and boost team efficiency, ultimately helping them retain and grow a healthy customer base.

The platform offers tools and solutions to track customer engagement, monitor the adoption of products or services, and analyze customer data to drive retention and growth.

Totango allows businesses to integrate data from multiple sources to get a clearer view of customers, better determine risk, and make data-led decisions. Customer segmentation also helps teams deeply understand customer segments to deliver more relevant experiences.

Customer insights for boosted customer engagement

With advanced tools and platforms designed to facilitate customer research and provide customer insights, understanding how your customers feel about your product or brand is easier than ever before.

The right tools can reveal what your customers like and dislike about your offering, how likely they are to stay loyal to your company, and whether or not they would recommend you to other people.

These insights can help your business develop the best possible products that fulfill your customers’ needs, eliminate friction points, boost your marketing and sales efforts, and improve user and customer experience.

FAQs

What are the six techniques to gain customer insights?

Many tools and techniques can be used to gain customer insights. Here are six of the most common techniques:

  • Customer surveys

  • Social media listening

  • Interviews

  • Usability testing

  • Focus groups

  • Website analytics

What is a consumer insight example?

A consumer insight (or customer insight) occurs when an observation based on customer data turns into a conclusion about that information.

Here’s an example: by gathering data, an organization discovers that a product is performing best with a younger demographic. The reason for this, as they deduce by analyzing the data, is the product’s environmental friendliness.

This knowledge encourages the team to develop more environmentally friendly products and processes and communicate about them. This will get better results from the younger demographic, increasing overall business performance as a result.

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