How to conduct customer interviews that provide valuable insights

Customer interviews are one of the best decisions you can make for your company. It may sound exaggerated, but this is not the case!

Let me explain.

Bias comes with being human. We constantly make assumptions about how things are or should be, whether we realize it or not. Being an expert in your area doesn’t mean you understand what your clients think.

Only by conducting customer interviews can you find out. You’ll discover things that you would never have learned when you engage in honest, transparent discussions with those who keep your company afloat. This feedback can change your business’s course.

This article will give you a crash course in Customer Interviews 101: what they are and how they can benefit you. We’ll also cover the seven-step process to conduct them and some of the most common FAQs.

What is a Customer Interview?

Customer interviews are just what they sound like direct conversations between you and your customers to discuss their experiences with your products or services and your company.

There is no right way to conduct customer interviews, despite the name sounding formal. You can conduct pre-scheduled interviews with scripts or ask additional questions during customer service calls.

No matter how you conduct customer interviews, the ultimate goal is to obtain honest opinions and feedback from the customer. While we all like positive feedback, you should also be open to criticisms and suggestions. These are goldmines that can help you improve your business.

Why should I conduct customer interviews?

Customer interviews have many benefits that can be very beneficial to your business. These are just a few.

Discover unexpected or unplanned insights. You can dig more profound when conversing with a customer, even if you didn’t plan to ask them anything.

Understand the language of your customers. UUnderstanding the words, phrases, and terms they use will help you better understand their mentality. You can also use this language to communicate more quickly and easily with future customers.

Gain more valuable and actionable insights. A conversation is much different than a survey. You will hear the tone and emotions while building a more genuine connection.

This is your chance to determine your customers’ thoughts about your ideas, services, and products. Be open-minded and avoid asking “guiding” or “prescriptive” questions.

Develop long-term relationships. Customers will appreciate your taking the time to listen and ask them questions. This can result in more loyal clients and positive marketing through word of mouth.

How to conduct customer interviews

Let’s look at seven steps to help you conduct customer interviews.

Clear goals are essential.

If you have a goal, your interviews will become more efficient and effective. You can use your interview goal to achieve any number of purposes, such as:

Get success stories of satisfied customers to share.

Check if the customer thinks a particular feature or function will be helpful.

Review the entire customer experience or just a part of it.

Collect feedback from beta versions of products you are testing.

Discover more about your customer’s lifestyle to create a more tailored persona or profile.

Stick to one objective for every customer interview campaign. I have found that the more you try to do, the more complicated it becomes.

Find the right customer.

If you pick the wrong people, customer interviews will not be beneficial. How much will it help if you ask an Android user to give you feedback on a new Apple application you are developing?

You can use your CRM platform to look through past customers who have made purchases that align with the goals of your interview.

You’ll have to be creative if you have no customers. You can also try the following:

Reaching out to those who interact with your competitors on social media

Find members of niche forums and groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, or other websites.

Attending industry conferences and local events in person or virtually

Partnerships with companies or people who will reach out on your behalf to their database

Consider offering an incentive to those who are not familiar with your brand. You can reward them with cash, store gift cards, or free products.

Design your interview questions.

Open-ended questions are more informative and detailed than yes-or-no. You can ask multiple-choice or yes-or-no questions. However, you should follow up by asking open-ended questions.

Avoid “leading” questions, which direct your customers to a specific answer. For example, “Is the older version of the app better than the upgraded version?”

Words like “old” or “improved,” which have implied meanings, can cause customers to give one answer instead of another. Try to make the words less loaded. For example, refer to them as Version A or Version B.

Remember that you are designing these questions more as a guideline than a script. Plan for what you may learn by asking questions that will spark meaningful discussion.

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Create a good environment

The environment is not just about physical space.

You want any interview to be relaxed and comfortable. Do not lead them to a room with steel chairs and a white background, as if they were being interrogated.

The interview’s atmosphere is not just about the energy and mood of the discussion. Here are a few tips:

Be polite and friendly. Small talk can lighten up the mood.

You can start by asking icebreaker questions to get to know the person before answering interview questions.

Avoid fidgeting, crossing your arms, or smirking.

You can also give a brief background of your goals for the interview to help them understand.

Interviewing the candidate

Try not to “sell” the customer during your interview. Your goal is to understand their perspective and receive unbiased feedback. Resist the urge to sell them a product, even if you are familiar with it and can help.

As we have said, you should prepare an interview script but not feel bound to it. Be sure to hit the main points, but also be flexible if the conversation takes a different direction.

Ask them to explain any answers they give or to provide examples. A loosely scripted conversation can reveal insights that you never knew you wanted.

Follow-up is an option that can be offered.

Ask them if it’s okay if you contact them again in the future. Implementing their feedback into a project and then following up later with another interview can be extremely helpful. This type of collaborative iteration can transform your business.

Ask if you can add them to your mailing list. If they agree, you can use this opportunity to promote your products and services. You could even give them a discount for taking part in the interview.

Follow-ups are a great way to continue building the relationship. If you play your cards correctly, this will help to continue building the trust and loyalty of your customers with your brand.

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