How to interview your customers

by Michael Bernstein on December 22, 2016

Use a template. Like Sol Lewitt.

Inspired by this post by Tom Tunguz, one of my favorite business writers, I put together this questionnaire template that you can use right now to get the kind of information you need from your customers.

Check out the template here!

If you’re trying to determine anything from current satisfaction level to customers impressions about new pricing plans, these questions can help you guide the conversation toward the information that you need.

Having a template handy is incredibly useful when you’re doing a number of customer interviews. At Reify, we like to speak to as many of our client’s customers as possible when doing research on positioning, packaging, and pricing, because in many ways they’re the ones who know best — they’re already paying for it. The template makes sure we always ask the same questions, and the few seconds it takes to clone it and fill it in for the person we’re speaking to makes for a nice repeatable ritual before each chat.

Here’s a few words about why I like each of Tom’s questions when talking to customers:

How did you hear about $COMPANY?

This covers your marketing channels. How they heard about it is a proxy for how well your channels are doing.

How did you decide to use $COMPANY?

This is meant to let customers talk about competition, other things they may have chosen, and the actual decider in their process.

Who in your company uses $COMPANY?

You’re trying to get to know how a company uses your software. Who actually uses it, and for what, can often be surprising.

How important is $COMPANY to you?

This can be an uncomfortable question to ask, but ask it. If your customer is frustrated about something, it will probably come up here.

How much do you pay for $COMPANY?

How much your customer pays, and the plan that they’re on, impacts their impressions of the product. It’s good to get them talking about it.

What aspects of $COMPANY do you value the most?

Here’s your chance to ask what your customers would miss the most if they couldn’t use your product anymore. This is often the most revealing question of the bunch.

Who would you recommend $COMPANY to?

Plenty of people put tons of stock into the idea of recommendations. It’s at the heart of modern thinking on NPS, and for the most part I think it works pretty well. In my experience it may end up bringing up some other stuff you don’t care about, but in the end, all data here is helpful.

One more time! — Check out the template here!

One final note: we don’t recommend just “talking to your customers for the sake of talking to them.” Make sure you have a clear goal in mind, and that you’re selecting customers from the right segments in your customer base. Not sure how to do that? That’s a post for another time!

If you’re interested in talking about sales, marketing, and pricing for developer facing products, get in touch today!

Credit to Tom Tunguz, whose post contains most of these questions.