Mentor Insights: 7 Tips For Conducting Successful Customer Interviews

One of the most important elements of a strong innovation ecosystem is creating a culture in which those of us that have achieved some success in business or have a particular area of expertise are willing to share insights, processes, connections and resources with those that are at an earlier stage in their business journey.

To facilitate this exchange of knowledge Gold Coast Innovation Hub launched a new mentoring program this month for our workspace members.

The initiative is already having some great results with lots of nuggets of wisdom being shared amongst members this week.  We’ve loved hearing the advice that came out of one-on-one mentoring sessions and so we have decided to put some of the top tips into a series of blog posts so that the wider community can benefit. Please enjoy:) 

YOUR CUSTOMERS HAVE THE ANSWERS..

Whether you are a business that is just starting out or you have been operating for over 20 years, the most valuable feedback you will ever get is the feedback from your customers. It is so easy to forget the importance of customer interviews. We often seek advice on how best to innovate our business and what features to bring into our products from advisers or come up with strategies ourselves, but no one is going to provide us with better insights than our customers.

If you have existing clientele and you are thinking of pivoting or innovating, spend time with your customers.  

Here are 7 tips that can help you to make the process of interviewing your customers more successful: 

  1. Have a clear strategy of what information you want to get out of your conversations with the customers. What questions will you ask to elicit this information? 
  2. Have a reference story ready for customer interviews to assist in creating openness and willingness to spend time. What story will you tell them that will help them to share their insights? What do you need to tell them to bring down any potential anxiety from the customer? Why is it that you are asking for help now?  
  3. Script the responses to be the most efficient with the customer’s time. Be prepared for different answers from the customer and make notes on what to say after to keep the conversation on track. 
  4. Start with personal face-to-face interviews rather than delegating to another staff member. As the founder of the business, set up 20 face-to-face appointments with the customers you have the best relationships with. Visit them in their office or home. Feel what works, create a process, then you can delegate this task and move it to a phone conversation.
  5. Ask open questions (How do you currently..), ask for stories (tell me about the last time you..), give them a chance to help.
  6. Let the customers do 80% of the talking. Actively listen to everything they are saying. 
  7. Use the 5 Why’s technique. Dig deeper. Understand the deep reason behind their answer. 

Happy interviewing! 

To become a member of the Gold Coast Innovation Hub and get the benefit of the mentoring program, please contact us on team@gchub.com.au 

August 16, 2019