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Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are a very critical part of product design. After all, the product is designed for the customers who build it. However, this critical part is the most neglected part of any product development. Founders resort to inefficient mechanisms like a survey to do understand their customers but they never capture the required information to product development.
The purpose of a customer survey is not to find out whether people will buy your product or not. The objective of the customer interview is to identify their pain points and to understand their patterns of decision making.
Once the founders have decided to the customer interview then there are four important steps to go ahead and do the interview
  1. Mindset
  2. Where do you meet your target customers?
  3. What questions to ask?
  4. Post Interview Notes
Mindset- Every now and then I keep emphasising on preparing ourselves mentally, because many a time we may have to handle disappointments. Be excited to go and conduct a customer interview. Its a place an opportunity to understand your customer better.  Proceed with a learning mindset. The best way to ensure a learning mindset is to follow an 80:20 rule.  Listen for 80% of the time and speak only less than 20% of the time. Another important attribute that needs to be followed during the interview process is never interrupted the flow of the customer.
PS: Make sure you do not use the two words in the entire interview- NO, BUT
Where do you meet your target customers: The best place to meet your target customers is at the place where they make the decision of buying your product. For instance, if it’s a  B2B business, then the best place to meet the customer is at their office where they make the decision. It is important, the customer should also be in the right framework to answer the questions. If the idea is to a  build a gifting portal for a B2C market, then the best place to interview is their home or at a gift shop where they buy the product. Our personal experience of conducting customer interviews with the purely special team at shopping malls was really exciting. We first went to a gift shop and asked them if we could conduct interviews in their shop without disturbing the customers. The manager refused to give us permission. We then decided to meet strangers in the mall and conduct our interviews, We managed to meet 30 different people at different age categories and the whole experience was completely enthralling.
PS: Conduct interviews as a team (2-5 members)
What questions do I ask in an interview? Be very clear about the objective of the interview. What inferences need to be collected at the end of the interview? If the interview is conducted without a prior appointment then start by introducing yourself and why you need to talk to them. Request them for a few minutes of their time. Never mention a word about the existence of your product. Try and capture their patterns. Try to go deeper. Sharing a few questions that we used to conduct our interview for Purely Special.
  1. What are the occasions on which you gift?
  2. How do you remember the occasions?
  3. Why do you feel gifting to people is important?
  4. How do you feel when people gift you?
  5. Who are the people who gift you?
  6. Whom do you gift?
  7. What was the best gift that you have received?
  8. Who is the person who gifted you the best gift?
  9. When did you feel very special when you gifted someone?
  10. How do you choose your gifts?
  11. What are the driving factors that decide your gifts?
  12. What type of gifts do you choose for different people?
  13. How do you like to purchase your gifts?
  14. What are your favourite online and offline shopping stores?
  15. How do you send your gifts to your loved ones?
  16. When do you take the decision of gifting someone?
  17. Can you please run me through your process once you have decided to gift someone?
  18. What are the challenges you have faced in buying gifts?
  19. What would you consider as a great gift buying experience?
  20. Can you share one such a great experience?
The objective of the survey is to understand customers gifting patterns.

PS: Don’t use leading questions. Capture emotions.

Making Notes:
Make sure you capture every important information in the survey. Let every member of the team make individual notes. If there is an option, take the permission of the customer and do a  video recording to make sure no points were missed.
BE a master observer and listener.

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