Six Tips for Great Customer Interviews
Youre working on brand messaging, content strategy, or audience personas, and will be interviewing customers for insights. How do you
make best use of that precious time to uncover something new?
The best interviews are the ones that go off script. Take cues from the person youre interviewing if they bring up a topic, it means they want to share something with you. Happily follow any unexpected discussion threads wherever they may go.
1. Prepare your questions. Then prepare to throw them away.!
Most people like telling their stories. If you put them at ease, and show genuine curiosity in what they have to say, youll learn a lot more than if you mechanically work your way down a questionnaire.
2. Treat it like a conversation.!
Its human nature were tempted to contribute to conversations with our own anecdotes. When interviewing customers and prospects, resist the temptation to jump in. Allow pauses to happen. Sometimes it just takes a simple wow for the other person to keep rolling.
3. Check your ego.!
It seems obvious, but the way your questions are worded will affect the responses. Unlike surveys, interviews are exploratory you go into them hoping to learn something new. Cast a broad net with open-ended questions. Keep the questions bias-free. Instead of asking, was XX a positive experience? try asking, what was that experience like for you?
4. Remember its not just what you ask its how you ask it.!
After you get an initial response, keep asking questions to understand the other persons underlying emotions, assumptions and motivations. For example, "why was XX important to you," or "what were the implications of XX," or "what was at the back of your mind at that time?"
5. Dont accept answers at face value.!
Were your interviewees brisk and confident? What made them hesitate or become animated? After each interview, take a few minutes to write down any impressions that might not be captured in the interview transcripts. Youll treasure these notes when it comes time to capture buyers emotional and social motivations in your personas.
6. Listen to what people say. Also notice how they say it. !
As a brand planner with 15 years of marketing agency experience, Anne has interviewed and surveyed thousands of people in search of customer insights: from border control agents to spine surgeons, commercial real estate tenants to parents of dyslexic kids. Her strength is uncovering the practical, emotional and social factors that drive brand preference.
About the author!