article

Customer & Client Interviews – why you should conduct them

8 min read

Ryan McHenry Ryan McHenry
11 Jul 2019
I

nterviewing and talking to your users, customers and clients should be an ongoing part of your product and marketing strategy. There are endless amounts of unique insights about your business that you can only learn by talking to the end-user of your products or services.

This article will provide you with all of the reasons why you should conduct customer interviews. As a bonus, have a look at the accompanying infographic that highlights the main points in the article. While reading, it is a good idea to think about how and why customer/client interviews could help your own business grow. After all, it’s a great method for you to see things from the perspective of your customers. You will also find out how these type of interviews can apply to your specific business stage.

Endless insights

So what are the reasons for “why” you should conduct these types of interviews? It actually depends on your business stage, as well as your concrete needs. These interviews can serve different purposes for everyone, but it doesn’t make them any less important based on the purpose. To start things off, let’s begin with businesses that are in the ideation stage, recently launched, or still trying to find product-market fit. If you are in any of these stages with your business, then you would conduct proto-persona interviews and customer persona interviews.

For those who know nothing about personas — in simple terms, a persona is just a fictional character. The word “persona” fittingly comes from the Latin word for mask, originally used to describe a role or character played by an actor. This fictional character represents your target audience and is normally created from the results of research. Proto-personas are typically the first iteration that you’ll create when thinking of who your customers will be, since they’re based mainly on assumption. Then, as you gain more insights (and a few customers), you’ll naturally define more and more the set of demographics and psychographics that truly encompass your ideal customers.

Key reasons why you should conduct these interviews

For both your personas and actual customers, the same reasons for “why” you should interview them apply. They seek to achieve the following:

Confirm hypotheses

Uncover pain points

Test ideas

Prioritize features/products/services

As you probably can tell, these are very important details to either know or to carry out when starting your business. It is also important not to be afraid of having your ideas dismissed by conducting these interviews; in fact, you should embrace any negative feedback you receive because it will help you to make changes or pivot if needed. If the majority of the people you interview immediately shoot down your business idea, then it may be worth rethinking your product/service or how you explain it.

If you are in the pre-launch stage, whether it’s for a new business, product/service, or if you are unveiling a new major feature, you will want to conduct interviews with various customer personas, as well as your real-world customers, users or clients. This includes people that are current customers as well as those who aren’t. It’s absolutely crucial to get your current customers’ thoughts since they’ve been with you for a while and have extra context and background on what you’re trying to accomplish, but it’s also important to hear the thoughts of non-customers so that you can more easily get them to sign up. The same goes for businesses that are already established; you should regularly conduct interviews to understand if you are moving in the right direction or if there is something holding you back that could be improved upon.

So what if something is potentially going wrong with your business? Would customer interviews help? The answer is definitely yes. This is another great case where customer interviews can provide you with the insight you need to make necessary improvements. If a business is failing or is in decline, interviews can help shed a light on the potential reasons.

Regardless of which business stage you are at, it should now be clear that conducting customer interviews is highly important and useful in every way. Performing this kind of research will ensure that your business is always following the right path, which is the path that your customer, client or user wants to walk.

Know your market

To give you a compelling reason to speak with customers and customer personas, data shows that 42% of startups fail because of “no market need”. This undoubtedly shows how important it is to know the customers in your market and to learn their actual needs as early as possible. When you know your customers inside and out, you’re able to come up with ideas, messaging and tactics that will change the growth trajectory of your business. It is important not to make the mistake of assuming that you already know all the exhaustive needs of your target audience. There will always be new insights to be learned and improvements to be made by conducting user interviews. This is because it forces you to engage with your audience, offers instant insight, provides early warnings on potential issues, and opens the door to new areas of profit potential.

As a business owner, you want to make sure that you set yourself up for success, making sure that you do your utmost to gather the necessary insights to help you attain it. This means that you shouldn’t just rush out and start interviewing your audience right away. It requires careful preparation so that you avoid talking to people in an unstructured way, as this will result in not receiving the best insights that you potentially could be getting.

Prepare your interview strategy carefully

What kind of pre-planning is a good approach? Start with figuring out which way you want to conduct the interviews. For example, should the interviews be moderated? These are the kind of interviews where you ask follow-up questions based on the answers you receive. This ensures that while you are conducting the interview, you can dig deeper into the pain points of any problems brought up by the interviewee and thus have a higher chance of yielding better insights. Then you have unmoderated interviews, which are more like questionnaires and are useful for when you simply need to collect large swathes of data that all follow the same question-answer formats.

Lastly, you also need to think about whether you want to conduct the interviews while representing your company, or if you want to use an independent entity to conduct the interviews. Using an independent market researcher might get you better insights since the interviewee could potentially be more open to sharing certain pain points than if they were talking directly to the company. You would also have the chance to hire an expert on the subject – someone who knows exactly how to conduct these types of interviews and ask questions the right way, thereby ensuring better insights.

We can help

At Cieden, we regularly conduct these type of interviews for our clients, and they always end up revealing critical insights. We understand that dealing with customer interviews is a time-consuming process, and we also recognize that there is an art to the questioning that will uncover the most valuable insights from an interviewee. There is no need to worry about those intricacies though, since we are always happy to help take care of the interviews.

Now that you know the reasons for why you should conduct customer/client interviews, we are sure that you also truly understand the benefits of doing so. The value of these insights should not be underestimated, and it would be wise to consider making plans to organize interviews for your company or organization as soon as possible. Jeff Bezos spent 100 times more on usability design than on marketing in the first year of Amazon, and he claims this strategy was the one that led to the platform’s overwhelming success. He saw the immense value of listening to customer insights early on and was subsequently rewarded for it.

We highly recommend that you study the accompanying animated infographic; familiarizing yourself with the main points in a visual manner will help cement the knowledge. Not only will this help ensure that you remember the details, but it’s easily shareable and can help convenience your boss if you think you need help in convincing him or her about the need to start doing user interviews.

Ryan McHenry
by Ryan McHenry

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