Best Practices for Great Customer/User Feedback Interviews

  1. Come prepared
  • Turn off all other alerts or distractions during the meeting.
  • Recruit an additional person (besides the interviewer) to take notes. This allows the interviewer to be more focused on listening; while the second person focuses on transcribing and recording. Make sure to capture the responses in the exact way the site presented it. Minimize editorializing or “correcting” customer language. This will help minimize introducing biases.
  • Have an outline of questions ready
  • Meet customers in their space or where they’ll be using the product whenever possible. Sometimes lab interviews are necessary but it’s best to go to your customers.
  • Encourage all feedback (positive and negative)
  • Let your customer talk >95% of the time.
  • Let the customer lead with how they use the product (even if it is “wrong”).
  • Give the users space to fully respond. See if you can count to 3 or allow silence to make sure they’re done.
  • Trust tangents from site users. You can gently redirect if it is too far off course — but often there’s good context in the tangents.
  • Focus the user on their expertise: their workflow, pain points and problems. They may propose solutions — which is fine; however, do not press for solutions. It’s best to get their input on problems and pain points.
  • Open-ended questions are ones that give customers space to explain and describe. (Open-ended questions do not end in “yes” or “no” or one-word answers.) For example: How do you use the product? What are you enjoying? What isn’t working?…
  • Follow-Up questions are useful to confirm understanding, follow up on a thread, or get an example of a user story. For example: “What I’m hearing is X, do I have that right?…”, “Tell me more…”, Can you give me an example?”
  • Ask beginner questions. (This means ask questions that seem obvious. Ask questions even when you think you know the answer already. Get aligned on context.)
  • Verify you’re following along. (e.g. I want to make sure I’m getting your feedback. What I’m hearing is X… Do I have that right?)
  • Avoid leading questions. (Leading questions often include inserting your hypotheses or biases into a question.) Focus on open-ended questions. Let the customer/user lead. For example: Tell me how you incorporate this product into your workflow. Show me how you engage with this product feature. Alternatively, a leading/closed question would be: We hear many customers use this product in the afternoons, after school, in order to accomplish X, is that how you use the product?
  • Some experts advise being neutral. I think it’s beneficial to respond positively to all feedback. We are not guaranteeing it will be addressed or included. We are simply encouraging the act of providing feedback.
  • Don’t respond with justifications, timelines, explanations or possible solutions. We will discuss solutions internally.
  • Don’t respond critically to feedback. Listen to all of their experience, encourage all feedback, and capture it.
  • Make sure to follow up with a big thanks to your customer for their insights and partnership.
  • Make sure that they know when you release improvements to the product that were inspired by them.
  • Loop customers in on prototype or product testing. Confirm whether changes made address the issues they were experiencing.

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VP of Customer Success, Alara Imaging. Health Tech / Software. Digital Health. Innovation. Human Biology, Stanford University. Views presented here are my own.

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Heather Hernandez

Heather Hernandez

VP of Customer Success, Alara Imaging. Health Tech / Software. Digital Health. Innovation. Human Biology, Stanford University. Views presented here are my own.

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