Steps To Conduct Customer Interviews That Delivers Valuable Insight
Steps To Conduct Customer Interviews That Delivers Valuable Insight. One of the most important decisions you will ever make for your company is whether or not to conduct customer interviews. However, while this may appear to be an exaggeration, it is not!
Bias is an unavoidable aspect of being a human being. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly making assumptions about the way things are and how they should be in various situations. However, just because you are an expert in your field does not imply that you are aware of what your customers are thinking about it.
Only by conducting customer business interviews will we be able to find out. When you have genuine, transparent conversations with the people who keep your company running, you’ll learn things that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. And this feedback has the potential to completely alter the course of your company’s operations.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about customer interviews: what they are and how they benefit you, a seven-step process for conducting them, and frequently asked questions. Don’t put it off until someone else does it. Hire yourself and take control of your own destiny.
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What is a customer interview and how does it work?
Customer interviews are exactly what they sound like: one-on-one conversations with your customers about their experiences, particularly with your company and its products or services; they are not a survey. While the term “customer interview” may appear to be formal, there is no one right way to conduct customer interviews. There are many different types of interviews, including pre-scheduled, scripted interviews and more impromptu interviews, such as asking a few extra questions during a customer service call.
The goal of conducting customer business interviews, regardless of the method used, is to obtain the customer’s honest opinions and feedback. And, while we all appreciate the positive feedback, it’s critical to ensure that you’re hearing (and truly listening to) any criticisms or suggestions they have to offer. These are the real gold mines when it comes to growing your company.
Why is it necessary for me to conduct customer interviews?
The advantages of conducting customer interviews can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line. Here are a few examples of those advantages: Discover insights that were unexpected or unplanned. When you’re having a real-time conversation with a customer, you have the opportunity to delve deeper into anything interesting they say, even if it wasn’t something you had planned to ask.
Learn the lingua franca of your customers. The specific words, terms, and phrasing they use will help you gain a better understanding of their point of view. And you can use this language in your marketing and communications materials to establish a more rapid and effective connection with future customers.
Gain access to even more valuable and actionable insights. When it comes to a conversation versus a survey, the dynamics are drastically different. You’ll be able to pick up on subtle differences in tone and emotion as you establish a more genuine connection.
Your opinions should be validated (or invalidated). Here’s your chance to find out what your customers think about your business ideas, products, and services directly from them. Keep an open mind and avoid asking “guiding” questions that lead them in the direction of the answer you want to hear.
Build relationships that will last a long time. The fact that you’re taking the time to ask them questions and truly listen to their responses will be greatly appreciated by them. More loyal customers and positive word-of-mouth marketing for your company can result as a result of this over time.
Advantages of conducting customer interviews
When and how should you conduct customer interviews?
Now that you’re familiar with the fundamentals of customer interviews, let’s take a look at how you can put them into action in seven simple steps.
1. Establish a clear objective.
Establishing a clear goal at the outset of your interviews will make them much more streamlined and actionable. Your interview objective can be related to any number of business objectives you wish to achieve, such as:
- Customer success stories should be gathered from satisfied customers.
- Check to see if customers find a particular feature or function to be useful.
- Obtain feedback on the overall customer experience, or on a specific aspect of the experience.
- Gather feedback on a beta version of a product that you are currently testing.
- Learn more about the customer’s way of life and preferences in order to create a more targeted customer profile or persona for the customer.
- If possible, try to stick to a single objective for each customer interview campaign. According to my observations, the more directions you attempt to travel in, the greater the potential for overcomplication.
2. Identify the most appropriate customers.
If you conduct customer interviews with the wrong people, the results will be ineffective. How much good will it do in the long run if you conduct an interview with an Android user about a new Apple app you’re developing?
You should sort through and look at past customers whose purchases are aligned with your interview objectives if you have a CRM (customer relationship management) platform. In the event that you don’t have many (or any) customers yet, you’ll need to be resourceful and innovative. You could try the following:
Reaching out to people who interact with your competitors online and on social media is a good strategy. Members of relevant groups and forums can be found on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as niche-specific websites.
Attending virtual and in-person networking events, such as industry conferences or local events, can help you build your professional network.
Partnering with individuals or businesses who are willing to reach out to their own databases on your behalf is a good strategy.
If you’re conducting cold outreach to people who are unfamiliar with your brand, consider offering an incentive to encourage them to participate in the interview. You can provide incentives in the form of cash, store gift cards, free products, or anything else you believe will entice them.
3. Create a list of interview questions.
Make sure to use open-ended questions rather than yes-or-no questions when creating your questions in order to obtain more detailed and useful insights. You should follow up with one or more open-ended questions if you ask yes-or-no or multiple-choice questions to give them the opportunity to explain their answer.
You should also avoid asking “leading” questions that point customers in the direction of a specific answer. For example, “Does the old version of the app perform better than the newer version of the app?” The use of words with suggestive meanings, such as “old” and “improved,” can lead customers to choose one answer over another when asked a question. To avoid being misleading, try using less loaded language, such as referring to them as Version A and Version B instead of A and B.
And keep in mind that you’re designing these questions as more of a guide than as a strict script, so be creative! Ask questions that you believe will elicit meaningful responses, and then prepare for the unexpected in terms of what you might learn as a result.
4. Establish a favorable environment
The term “environment” refers to more than just physical space. As a result, you should make every effort to ensure that any in-person interviews are comfortable and relaxed. Instead of escorting them into a white room with steel chairs, act as if they are being interrogated by the police.
However, the environment is also concerned with the overall mood and energy of the interview. Here are a few pointers:
- Be friendly, courteous, and welcoming to others. Engage in some light conversation to lighten the atmosphere.
- Before you dive into the interview questions, ask some icebreaker questions to help you get to know the person you’re interviewing.
- Body language is important to pay attention to—smile, maintain steady (but not creepy) eye contact, and avoid fidgeting or crossing your arms.
- Provide some background information on the objectives you hope to achieve through the interview so that the interviewer understands what you’re looking for.
5. Carry out the job interview
During the interview, avoid the temptation to “sell” the customer. Remember, your goal is to gain insight into their thought process and receive unbiased feedback. If they are explaining a product that you are confident will solve their problem, resist the temptation to make a sales pitch.
As we’ve discussed, you should go into an interview with a script, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to stick to it. Make sure to cover the important points you want to cover, but be prepared for the conversation to take a surprising turn. You are welcome to ask them to clarify any of their answers or to provide examples of what they mean by their responses. Using a loosely scripted approach opens the door to mind-blowing insights that you didn’t even realize you were looking for until you see them.
6. Provide the option to follow up with the customer.
Before the interview comes to a close, inquire as to whether they would mind if you contacted them in the future. This can be extremely beneficial if you use their feedback to improve a project and then follow up with them later to conduct another interview with the same group. This type of iterative collaboration has the potential to be transformative for your company.
You might also inquire as to whether or not they would mind being added to your email distribution list. If they say yes, this may be an excellent opportunity for you to sell them on your products and services. Consider offering them a special discount as an incentive for taking part in the interview (s).
Whatever the case may be, follow-ups provide you with the opportunity to continue to build and strengthen the relationship over time. Moreover, if you play your cards correctly, it will continue to build the trust and loyalty of your customers towards your brand.
7. Examine the outcomes
This is the point at which the proverbial rubber meets the road. You may end up with hours of recorded interviews or pages of notes and transcriptions at the conclusion of your interviews. This may appear to be a daunting task to complete, but keep in mind how valuable it will be once you’ve completed it completely.
Continue to keep in mind the original goals that were established when you designed your questions as you sort through, organize, and prioritize the data. Make an effort to organize your answers into categories and themes so that you can identify patterns that appear across a variety of responses.
You might also find it beneficial to visualize the data using mind-mapping software or plain old sticky notes. If you want to learn more about data analysis, this article is a good place to start.
Customer interviews can turbocharge your company’s performance.
When you put in the effort to strategically plan your interviews, you will almost certainly uncover information that will help you take your company to new heights of success. Make certain that you have given careful consideration to your interview objectives, questions, and participants. And when you’re finished, use as many tools and tactics as you possibly can to draw meaningful conclusions from your information.
It may take some time to master the art of conducting customer interviews, but once you do, you’ll be able to unlock a whole new world of possibilities for developing and improving your products, services, and overall business.
Customer interviews Frequently Asked Questions
How many potential customers should I speak with?
The number of customers you should interview is a matter of personal preference, and there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Depending on the insights you gain from your first session, you could begin by interviewing five people and then increase or decrease the number of participants in your subsequent interviews. In the event that you notice that each participant has assisted you in gaining new insight, you should conduct additional customer interviews.
What should the length of a customer interview be?
Customer interviews should be between thirty and forty-five minutes in length. Keep in mind that customers may only have a limited amount of time to devote to you and your business. Plan your interview carefully so that you can make the most of the time allotted to you to gain valuable insights.
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