7 Practical, Effective Tools to Discover Real Customer Insights to Drive Business Growth

  • Aruel M. Cortes
  • |
  • 2
  • min. read

To provide customers with greater experiences, companies need to have a deeper understanding of who their customers are, their passions, and pain points. It starts with the discovery of real insights, the deep imaginative truth about customer motivations and behaviors derived from a disciplined approach, compiled and analyzed to inform business decisions.

Real customer insight is not observable, not seen immediately on the surface. It explains (not just describe) the occurrence of something and why an action or behavior is happening. Getting customer insights takes a systematic approach because it does not occur randomly or happen serendipitously.

Useful tools to uncover customer insights

We can use 7 practical effective tools to uncover insights such as 1) analogies, 2) anomalies, 3) confluence, 4) voyage 5) extremes, 6) orthodoxy, and 7) customer frustrations.

We use analogies by looking at what works in another market or industry, translate and apply it to our context. With anomalies, we look for deviations in data, information that does not make sense and then dig deeper as to what’s hiding there. We can also look at the confluence or intersection of trends because hiding behind it is an insight.

Insights can also be found by talking to dissatisfied customers (including that of competitors), those who do not buy or are passive known collectively as the extremes. We can use orthodoxy by questioning or challenging a long-held accepted belief of an industry. Or, take the voyage by traveling to where the customers are and observe deeply what they are doing in their context to uncover insights.

Frustrated customers may be difficult to deal with; but their frustrations could also lead to insight by finding out what needs to improve. Uber, Netflix and Airbnb are some of the many examples of great companies born out of frustrating taxi, DVD rental, and hotel experiences respectively.

There is nothing as pervasive as digital technologies in changing the behaviours and attitudes of customers today. Therefore, businesses need to step back and re-orient themselves on the kinds of customers they are serving to provide them with greater experience and build stronger relationships. Customer insights discovery in digital marketing training is a good start to achieve that.

Is the Voice of Customer a good source of insights?

Some use Voice of the Customer (VoC) as an insight source, which usually comes from traditional research techniques such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, and/or surveys. However, many experts advise taking VoC with caution because it does not truly reflect the inner motivations and emotional preferences that drive purchase decisions. Customers find these motivations difficult to articulate.

Uncovering customer insights is not easy. We have been indoctrinated by what we know and believe in. Therefore, we must widen our view, and use a variety of quantitative and qualitative techniques like ethnographic market research (EMR), customer journey mapping (CJM), human factors research, social data mining to uncover them.

Take away!

In today’s hyper-competitive world, take advantage of every data you have to understand and serve your customers better. Regardless of which stage your business is in the life cycle – start-up, growth or mature, making an informed decision starts with having the right customer insights. It’s a proven game-changer and competitive advantage.

At CORTELO, we help companies build a high-performing sales and marketing team by improving their skills in uncovering breakthrough customer insights and its application to business through training.


  1. Collinge, R. How to Gather and Use Customer Insights to Improve Experience. Hubspot, 2020
  2. Gordon, J, et.al. New insights for new growth: What it takes to understand your customers today. McKinsey, September 2016
  3. Sawhney, M. Insights into Customer Insights. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. 2004

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