Conduct a customer interview

1. Reach out to the customer you have selected as an interview candidate via email.

Let them know you’d like to interview them, what you intend to use it for, and ask if they’d like to participate. If they don’t reply, follow up with a phone call. If you don’t get a response or they are not interested, repeat this process with other selected candidates until you find one that agrees.

2. Ask what format they are most comfortable with, such as phone, video, or in-person, confirm what they are comfortable with you using the interview for, and schedule a time and date to conduct the interview.

3. Check your CRM and ask your sales/support teams for any psychographic and demographic data you have on your chosen customer interviewee before the interview.

Psychographic data like values, interests, beliefs, and lifestyle are relevant because they often influence buying decisions, shopping habits, and approaches to problem solving. Demographic data like age, gender, location, profession, and income are relevant because they also often influence buying decisions.

4. Create a document and, using this information, create a profile similar to a buyer persona, noting the customer’s name, age, location, profession, and income as well as what products of yours they have purchased.

Include as much information as you have on your customer, as this will help inform what questions you will create and ask.

5. List all problems that the products this customer has purchased help customers to solve.

If you need help coming up with a comprehensive list, review common pain points of your buyer personas and take note of anything that specifically applies to this customer’s chosen products.

6. Write down open-ended questions that maintain the customer’s perspective to get to the root of your customer’s problems, experiences, and attempts at finding solutions.

For example: Before [insert product or service], what problem were you trying to solve? What previous solutions did you try? How did other solutions fall short?” How is that problem addressed now? After each of these core questions, leave room for others that speak more directly to the customer’s experience, in case they don’t touch on it in their original answer, such as How did that make you feel? or What were your biggest frustrations with _? Finish your list with questions that extend beyond what you previously covered and allow your customer to speak freely, such as Is there anything I’ve not asked about that you’d like to touch on? or Is there anything else you think I should know?

7. Reach out to your customer through their preferred method of communication for the interview on the scheduled date and time.

8. Begin the interview with polite pleasantries, ask if they’re comfortable with you recording their responses with audio, video, or just written notes, then maintain a conversational tone and approach as you ask questions from your list.

Make sure to record their answers via the method they’ve agreed upon, and if they’re not comfortable with audio or video, take detailed written notes.

9. Listen carefully to their answers and use them to help guide the conversation. If something is unclear, ask them to explain it another way. If there is more room to explore an idea or answer, ask them to extrapolate.

Don’t be afraid to stray from your original questions if they are providing insight you hadn’t previously anticipated. Continue with your line of questioning until you feel satisfied that they’ve answered your question or have nothing else to say on the topic.

10. Ask your final open-ended questions and encourage your interviewee to speak freely about anything you feel hasn’t been covered.