How to Conduct a Really Effective Customer Interview

October 4, 2021

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball that would tell you exactly what you needed to do and say to engage your customers? Well, you’re not alone. In our last post, we talked about how to reimagine your website with a customer journey approach to target your buyers more effectively. In order to do so, it’s necessary to know and understand what your customers need and want. But how do you do that? 

By talking to them.

Customers, more than ever, want brands to appeal to them. They want you to know where they are in their lives and what their needs are, rather than having brands ask customers to meet them where they are. Because of that, whether it’s a big branding project or a simple design or messaging project, our team always interviews customers to make sure we’re appealing to buyers’ needs and desires at every step of the way.

Before you can get started with customer interviews, though, it’s important to determine who your target buyers are (narrow it down to three or four personas), and line up (ideally multiple) interviews from each persona. If you’re an agency like we are, I encourage you to have your client introduce you directly to these customers, as personal introductions make a big difference. Additionally, we’ve found incentives like gift cards are never a bad idea.

Once you’ve established who you’re going to speak with, it’s important to prepare a set of questions that are going to provide the insight you’re seeking. To start, we always ask questions about the person’s role, their priorities, and concerns. This provides insight into our target personas, how they think, and what they need. From there, we’ll ask a series of questions such as: 

  • How does company x’s product or service make your life easier? This answer will give insight into the value of the product/service in their everyday lives.
  • How did you hear about company x? What did you research? This answer will help you understand the buyer journey and what channels work best (ie. review sites, social media, your website, etc.) for lead generation.
  • Why did you choose company x over others? This answer will help you with your messaging and understanding what your key differentiators really are.
  • How would you describe company x’s product or service? This answer will  help you with your top line messaging.

Once you have your questions ready and your interviews scheduled, here are a few tips to take into consideration: 

  • Make your participants feel comfortable. Personally, I like to start with a little discussion around life to loosen energies. Additionally, I recommend having a third party conduct these interviews rather than internal members of your organization. This will allow people to be fully candid and honest in their answers, providing you with the authentic insight you need.
  • Take good notes and record the call. But be sure you request permission from all participants to record before doing so. If possible, I like to have someone else taking notes so that I can focus more on engaging the customer I’m speaking to and asking follow up questions based on their answers. Another option is to use an AI transcript service like Otter, which we’ve started to use, to transcribe the call. I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful.

 

  • Be clear on your objectives. If you don’t get the answer you need, don’t be afraid to ask again in a different way. Different people have different ways of processing information and sometimes rewording the question can help you get the information you need. Additionally, if you find yourself running out of time, have key questions bolded (prioritized).
  • Don’t ask leading questions. If you’ve ever watched any crime show ever, you’ve heard the phrase “Don’t lead the witness.” The same goes for customer interviews. Short and precise questions will help ensure answers are more genuine and authentic.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of customer input. Without it, you’re going to find that your brand might be pretty or sound nice, but it won’t actually be connected to the customer, and it’s the emotional connection that sells. Creating a culture where connecting with customers regularly is a normal practice will ultimately make everything you do more effective. 

If you’d like to talk more about how to conduct customer interviews or are interested in having Sublime Designs Media conduct yours for you, please email [email protected].

Sublime Designs Media is a marketing and branding firm that takes a fresh approach to solving your toughest marketing challenges. We specialize in crafting solutions that get results fast: whether reinventing an existing brand, creating a new marketing strategy, or supporting your team creatively. Get in touch with us today at: [email protected]