Conducting my first customer interview

Hello Community, I’ve recently joined this platform (Prowess). I’m new to Product Management as also to my job with this company. User interviews can be tricky since it’s such an important part of the design process. That being said, I think it sounds like a great idea to get some feedback about the product. If a customer is unhappy with your product or service, then they could give some valuable insight for making it better. I’m doing my first customer interview to learn more about some feedback that the user gave us, would love to hear any advice that y’all might have?

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Hello Jonathan. Welcome to Prowess. Also welcome me to the community because I am also new to the platform. I have about 5 Yoe in product in the FinTech industry. Coming to your question, here’s what I would say.

Although it seems counterintuitive, asking why directly nearly never yields the desired results. Understanding why is crucial. You’ll frequently receive a vague response that is useless to you. For instance:

User: The XYZ feature is absent. I require it. It makes me really angry.
You: Whoa, why?
User: Because everything is currently so manual and difficult for me.

If you’re not careful, your entire talk may go like this, leaving you with little new information after the interview.

I have read a book that suggested asking when instead. By doing this, you’re assisting the user in recalling and recreating context in their memory, which makes it possible for them to more clearly express details.

You: When did you last find yourself desiring feature XYZ? What were you doing?
User: I was managing the payroll for 200 people. Without functionality XYZ, I was processing payroll for 200 employees. To copy the information for each employee, I had to click into each one individually.

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Welcome aboard Prowess to both of you @JonathanTessa and @AnushkaGarg.

I fully agree with what @Anushka said. “Can you tell me more about that?” or “Can you elaborate on that?” will be more helpful instead of “why”.

Asking “what would you expect to happen?” can assist a user get more specific if they run into problems or are unsure.

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Welcome to all new members of the Prowess community. I really love this community as it is one of the very few communities that are fully dedicated to the Product Managers.

Advice?

When signing consent paperwork to capture audio or video, act professionally and matter-of-factly. If necessary, have NDAs on hand. Double-check everything with legal.

Even if you are using Zoom transcription, have a scribe record and time stamp the interview’s more important parts.

Use a script to outline your talking points if you’re not a natural public speaker. I’m VERY terrible, so even though a script made me robotic, I was still able to gather all the information I required.

If it helps, proceed backward. Prepare your findings presentation first and foremost. Not that you have to adhere to it, but that it can serve as a reference point for the topic you’re attempting to enlighten.

Offer your accessibility at the end of the interview in case they remembered something later or mention that you’d like to speak with them again in the future.

Before you go, schedule a follow-up if it makes sense. say, two weeks after the following significant release or after a significant trade fair.

If you need to interview them again and you don’t follow up, they’ll feel misled and it will reflect negatively on your business and service. So, definitely don’t PROMISE anything.

Be thorough and patient when recording the details of their contract before concentrating on getting their comments. Later, such consideration for them as people will pay off.

Small conversation about their environment and families. Knowing their external pressures can assist you understand how they developed their impression of the goods even though you are not a salesperson and are not there to pitch.

AVOID taking your own notes. Rely on the recording if you don’t have a scribe. It can disrupt the flow of the conversation if you’re taking notes when you should be IN THE MOMENT.

Best luck! You understood, I’m sure.

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Whoa! Thank you all for the warm welcome and your prompt replies. @NaomiNwosu, awesome advice that I’ll absolutely follow!

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Welcome to Prowess Community @JonathanTessa and @AnushkaGarg.
If you have a Kindle, buy The Mom Test and read it in ~3h. It helped me a lot and it is an easy read with practical advice.

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Welcome to the Community. Here is a review of some worthwhile books with their key conclusions:

  1. Never pitch your ideas to clients.

  2. Recognize facts. until you have precise data and statistics, dig further and ask additional questions.

  3. Avoid mentioning your solution

  4. Instead of listening to opinions, gather information and pain points.

  5. Compliments are meaningless. Basically nothing Deflect them and continue digging.

  6. Without being willing to spend a few minutes remaining silent, you cannot learn anything useful.

  7. After a product or sales meeting, if you don’t know what to do next, the meeting was useless.

  8. The founders must attend meetings themselves until you have a solid company model and a repeatable sales or marketing procedure.

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Thank you for the the greetings.

Can you elaborate or give an example for #7?

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If the meeting was productive, you will leave with action items, topics for further investigation, areas for improvement, etc. You’ll always go away knowing more about the customer and how he utilizes your goods, which will be beneficial to you.

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The best results, in my opinion, always involve some degree of informality. Encourage honesty as well.

It can feel quite professional and job interview-like if you’re dressed to the nines, you’re in corporate offices, and they have paperwork for you to sign. You must establish a relaxed environment.

If they believe you built it or the person who built it is present, honesty may be suppressed, and the entire exercise may be for naught. Tell them you couldn’t care less what they have to say; you just need the truth.

In addition to all of that, be ready. A practice interview would be helpful if it’s your first time meeting someone from outside your team.

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This is true @FelipeRibeiro. However, during my sessions, when we STOPPED recording, the atmosphere in the room became more casual, and we would joke and cuss. I admit that in MY reply, I suggested signing permission forms and NDAs. In fact, I would ask, “Now tell me what you REALLY think,” as soon as we finished taping. And as we laughed, we could relax and talk about our problems.

In my defence, I had a history in research, so “recording” felt significant because a researcher isn’t there to establish relationships; instead, recording audio and video seemed crucial to share with the team.

However, you’re not a researcher and you’re not in sales, so I would revise my earlier statement on the need for any recording! And put your attention on establishing a solid and ongoing relationship with your client.

Yeah, the more I consider it, removing the worry of having someone’s voice recorded greatly reduces anxiety for a PO.

But then, be extremely careful to make note of those important details!

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Yes @NaomiNwosu, I do agree with that. I believe that recording is crucial. Possibly bringing a buddy along who can take notes. Interviews are straightforward in theory but getting all the important information out requires a high level of competence.

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Don’t ask questions that suggest a certain response, like “Do you believe this feature is problematic?”

Do you have any thoughts about the product, please?

Additionally, encourage your customer to speak as much as they can and consider recording the video.

Apply the “5 Whys” method to anything the client says.

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Listen. Try to relate to them, appear humble, and show interest in what they do.

Avoid attempting to appear knowledgeable and avoid the impulse to provide an immediate response.

Even when you know the solution, it might be beneficial to speak things through.

Additionally acceptable are phrases like.

“If I have this right, it goes like this…” and be incorrect. You’d be surprised at how fast they’d correct you with the details you require and the confirmation you seek after I made assertions that I knew to be false on numerous occasions.

I prefer engaging in lighthearted conversation with my clients (this is when actually being a parent helps, as often your customers are parents too, you can break ice with this topic and loosen them up).

There are so many ways you can get people to open up… without asking a single direct question. Since I started out in presales, communicating to people is now second nature to me as a PM.

Short interviews might be monotonous, so try to make it enjoyable and memorable so that they will keep coming back.

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Not every problem that a customer or user encounters requires fixing. Not every issue is a bug or an UX/product defect. We should think about the business aspects of our actions.

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There’s a great chapter on interviews in Rob Adams ‘if you build it will they come’.

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What was said here by others. Asking them when they last used the app, utilized the product, etc. is a nice way to commence a general interview session. What did it feel like? How did they act? What was the response?

Another is: guide me through the XYZ process.

Ask why five times

If you can, having someone else take notes is quite beneficial. Alternatively, have someone else listen in since you might miss anything.