What Are Customer Insights?
A customer insight is “a non-obvious understanding about your customers, which if acted upon, has the potential to change their behavior for mutual benefit.” — Paul Laughlin
Gaining customer insights helps businesses understand their market and their target user. There are many ways to gain customer insights, including surveys, trade shows, and competitor analysis. A powerful, yet challenging way to find customer insights is through customer interviews.
Best Practices for Customer Interviews
Preparing for a customer insights interview takes time, though certainly worth the investment. Here are some best practices to help you succeed.
Prepare in Advance
Write down questions and key concepts you would like to discuss to provide a structure to the conversation. This will ensure all focus areas are covered throughout the interview. This will also avoid inevitable “Oh! I forgot to ask about…” moments.
However, even with this preparation, remain open to asking spontaneous follow-up questions as they come up. Oftentimes, these deeper questions will lead to more useful insights. Even asking the simple “Why/Why Not?” can help a customer think more about your product and provide more information.
Lastly, to keep it conversational, opt to record the interview instead of taking notes. This way, you can refer back to the exact words your customer said and can stay present in the interview itself.
Protect Customer Confidentiality
Before the interview begins, make sure to ask the participants for their consent, where they agree to have their responses recorded and used for the company’s internal research. This can be done using a consent form or recorded verbal consent.
In addition, it is important to tell your participants that their responses will be anonymous. This may help them feel more comfortable sharing their honest feedback.
Throughout the interview, it is important to remove as much bias as possible, and there are many ways to do this. First, try not to reveal personal information that may influence the customer’s thoughts on the product. For example, if asking about whether a customer likes a company’s product, refrain from introducing yourself as an employee of the company. If the customer knows of your employer, they may feel compelled to speak favorably about the product. Instead, this personal information can be revealed at the end of the interview.
Rephrase your questions to give the customer the chance to form their own opinion. For example change, “How excited were you to use X product?” to “How did X product make you feel?” The second question does not assume that the customer was excited about the product, and creates space for the customer to provide an unexpected response. Removing assumptions helps us to reach unexpected, useful conclusions.
Below is a list of sample questions to use in a customer insight interview. Use the questions that are applicable to your company and feel free to add your own!
This is a great way to get to know who you are interviewing! This will also help you place all of their responses in context, and help them get comfortable speaking with you.
- What is your name, current job, and employer?
- How do you find new products for work or at home?
- What problems have you run into today or this week?
- What have you tried new recently? What worked well/what didn’t?
These questions are more specific and depend on what you would like to achieve with the user interview. Pick a topic to focus on in the interview based on your stage in the product development process.
Identifying Customer Problems
- What are the top 3 challenges you face related to [Industry/Market]?
- When did you first realize these challenges? What were you trying to do/not do when you realized this?
- How do these challenges affect you?
- Have you created any solutions/workarounds for these problems? Describe them.
- If you could wave a magic wand and create a perfect solution for one of these challenges, what would that solution look like?
Identifying Customer Problems
- When was the product purchased? Note: Ask for seemingly small details: Location, geography, purchased in a group vs. alone, and what else did you buy that day?
- Did you ask anyone else for their advice or thoughts about the product before purchasing? What were their ideas?
- Walk me through how/when you use the product. Take careful note of times of confusion or misuse.
- What problem did you hope to solve by purchasing the product? Did you solve that problem? If not, describe the issues you have.
Pricing is very difficult to get good customer insights on, and there are additional resources to guide your thinking. People tend to agree to a price verbally, though they may not actually pay for it. Use these questions to guide the conversation.
- Describe your proposed solution to a problem they’ve described. Does the customer agree that it solves their problem? Do they see any potential issues or points of confusion?
- Would you be willing to pay for this solution, what is your target price?
- Would [X price] be reasonable?
- Would you be willing to buy the product right now?
Overall, these best practices for customer insights interviews can turn them into powerful tools. They can help you gain priceless information about your potential customers and propel your company to the next level.