Preparing for Customer Interviews
To prepare for customer interviews, identify the right users and ask good questions. Avoid leading the conversation and summarize what you learn. Understanding your research question and goals is also essential, as is gaining perspective from users while avoiding assumptions.
Know what audience segment you need to talk to before you begin.
The goal when interviewing is to uncover opportunities (e.g., customer needs, pain points, wants, desires) that, if addressed, would move the needle for your desired outcome.
To find the correct user segment or audience to interview, consider the goals of the interview and the questions you want to answer. Identify which users are most likely to have the information you need and focus on reaching out to them. This segment could include users who have engaged with your product in a certain way, users who have given feedback in the past, or users who fit a specific demographic profile. Conducting user research to understand your audience is also helpful in identifying the right user segment to interview.
Here are some audience segment examples.
- Users that have access to social media (paid or organic) for your product
- Users that have searched keywords for your product (paid or organic)
- Users entering from a particular page or site
- Users engaged within your product
- Users who have purchased or not purchased your product
- Users who have abandoned a shopping cart on your site
- Users who have spent a certain amount of time on the website or the product
- Users who have or have not used a specific feature or function
All user interviews must have a research question.
When researching your customers, identify what you want to learn from them. Use this to create a research question to guide the process, ensuring you focus on essential insights and collect the correct data.
Note that your research question should be different from your interview question. The interview question is for gathering information, while the research question guides the process.
Consider your learning objectives and develop a research question to help you achieve them. This question will make your research more efficient and increase the chances of obtaining valuable insights that can drive business growth.
Study these sample research questions to understand how to write your questions.
Goal: To increase engagement.
- What drives engagement today?
- What prevents people from engaging today?
Goal: To understand user needs.
- What are the user’s most essential needs?
- What is the user’s biggest frustration with the current solution?
Goal: To identify opportunities for new features.
- What features or functionality should be part of the current solution?
- What would make the user more likely to use the solution?
Goal: To improve the user experience.
- What are the user’s most significant pain points when using the solution?
- What should happen to make the explanation easier or more enjoyable to use?
Interview questions should help answer your research question.
To prepare for customer interviews, create practical questions that draw out stories and reveal opportunities to improve your product. Ask questions encouraging customers to share their experiences and perspectives rather than just gathering facts.
During interviews, ask questions that help answer your research question and prompt customers to elaborate on their experiences with open-ended questions.
Get stories from customers without leading questions or statements.
When writing interview questions for customers, avoid leading or biased questions. Instead, focus on open-ended questions that encourage customers to share their experiences.
Use neutral language when asking questions during customer interviews.
To write non-leading questions, use neutral language and ask questions allowing customers to share their thoughts and experiences.
For example, instead of asking, “Do you like our product?” ask, “What are your thoughts about our product?”. Asking this type of question allows the customer to express their opinions without feeling pressured to give a specific answer.
Avoid assumptions about the customer’s experiences.
Also, try to avoid assumptions about the customer’s experiences. Instead of asking, “How did you like our new feature?” ask, “What was your experience using the new feature?”. Asking the question this way allows the customer to share their experience without conforming to your assumptions.
Overall, non-leading and non-biased questions encourage customers to share their honest thoughts and experiences, which can provide valuable insights to improve your product.
Here are some examples of great interview questions.
- Tell me about when you first started thinking about _____.
- Tell me about the steps you took to get started.
- Talk about your experience when _____.
- What expectations did you have when interacting with _____?
- Tell me about a time when you ___.
- What was your experience like when ___?
- How do you typically ___?
- Can you walk me through your thought process when ___?
- What do you find most challenging about ___?
To prepare for customer interviews, identify the right users and ask good questions. All interviews must have a research question, and interview questions should help answer that question. Avoid leading the conversation and summarize what you learn. Non-leading and non-biased questions encourage customers to share their honest thoughts and experiences, which can provide valuable insights to improve your product.
Learn more about customer interview questions.
- Product Talk Academy | Continuous Interviewing
- Product Talk Blog | Why You Are Asking the Wrong Customer Interview Questions
- Product Talk Blog | Ask About the Past Rather Than the Future
- How Asking Works: A Crash Course in Customer Discovery Questions