Top 5 Customer Interview Rules

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Customer interviews are key for validating product ideas early. Here are 5 customer interview rules to follow when conducting problem interviews with customers in order to validate a particular hypothesis.

1. Do the interviews in person, 1 person at a time

Doing the interview in person and focused on an individual helps in establishing a connection and building trust. It also enables you to go with the conversation based on facial expressions and other non-verbal cues and dig deeper into any issues that are raised. In addition, customers will likely be more open for follow-ups as well as recommend others to interview.

2. Ask open ended questions

Ask open ended questions and avoid leading them in a particular direction. Try to uncover motivators by asking why again and again. Avoid “would you…” type questions that are about the future and instead focus on the present or the past using “when was the last time you…”

3. Listen

Let the customer do most of the talking. Seek to understand their story and learn about their perspective. Focus on their words, get the facts and avoid providing your own opinions or interpretations.

4. Focus on the problem, not the solution

Have the customers tell their story. Find out what they are struggling with. What are their pain points? Try to understand the problem and do not offer any solutions. Don’t try to sell them anything. After completing the problem interviews and validating that it’s a real problem, follow-up later with separate solution interviews.

5. Be skeptical – Is it a real problem?

Find out how much pain, time, effort, or money customers are spending to overcome the problem. It’s likely not a real problem unless they are willing to pay to solve it. Otherwise they might be providing the answers they think you want to hear so as not to hurt your feelings.