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5 Best Practices for an Insightful Customer Interview


How do you know what your customers experience when they work with you? 

Customer Experience Research is essential for gaining the insights you need to design the best experience for your customers. Oftentimes, companies contract a service design research firm (like us!) to assist in this process. So, we’re sharing 5 of our customer interviewing best practices you can use to gather better insights. 

1. Prepare for your interview

First thing’s first. Determine what you want to get out of the customer interviews. Do you want to develop customer personas? Are you trying to create a journey map that captures the customer’s complete path with your good or service? Always be thorough with what you expect with the interview. Request that the interviewee allows 30-60 min for the interview. Also, make sure to let them know the interview will be completely anonymous. You should have an idea of the key questions you’d like to ask, but don’t make it sound like a rigid script. No one wants that. People tend to open up more when you make it feel like a conversation. 

Next, pick up an audio recorder if you don’t already have one! Use the recorder to gather the entire conversation (with their permission). Don’t write too many notes during the interview. You want to remain actively listening to what the interviewee is saying. Take brief notes on questions you’d like to circle back to. Once the interview is over, you can go back and listen to the audio to jot down more insights for your data.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

When beginning the interview, starting off with simple questions that break the ice can get the respondent to open up quicker. The greatest questions are the ones that drive their emotional insights. Asking open-ended questions is key to get the customer to elaborate more on their personal experience. Ask about what they felt during different steps throughout the process.

One of the most important things to remember while interviewing is to never lead a question to suggest a particular answer. For example:

Don’t ask: “How frustrating was it for you while you were waiting? Do ask: “How were you feeling while you were waiting?”

If the customer answered with one word, like “frustrating”, get them to elaborate. For example, you can get interviewees to elaborate by asking:

“What caused you to feel that way?”“Could you help me understand that better?”

Asking for more details is important. The more information you get on why and how they felt helps get a fuller understanding of the customer’s experience.

3. Match and Mirror

“Match and Mirror” how the interviewee sits and speaks. But make sure not to overdo it and keep it subtle. If they are talking soft, speak in a softer way. Try to mimic their general sense of posture. Remember, subtlety is key. Don’t make it weird.

4. Listen!

Listen to not only what the customer is saying, but how they say it. Focus on their tone when they answer certain questions and how their body language shifts while explaining. Don’t be afraid of blank pauses. Spaces in conversation can encourage people to elaborate to fill the silence.

5. Be Polite, Say Thanks

Be polite, thank them for their time! Make them feel appreciated and important. The information they provided is valuable and will help influence future implementations in the customer experience. Once you’ve performed all the customer interviews, that’s when the information gets put to work. The data is often used to make a customer persona for an illustrated journey map. The journey map provides the business with a view of the bigger picture and directs leaders to create efficient action plans for success. Now that you know the basics, get out there and get your interview on!

If you’d like to learn more how to successfully improve your customer experience, let’s chat!



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