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Everything you need to know in 100 slides or less* 18 Tips and Tricks on Conducting A Killer Customer Interview Customer Interviews *The slides are short. It’ll go fast, I promise. Want to learn even more? We’re writing a book: Pre-Agile Methodologies: A Tactical Guide To Not Building The Best Wrong Thing. Go to http://bit.ly/PreAgileBook to never build the wrong thing again.

18 Tips on Conducting Killer Customers Interviews

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**** Learn more about Customer Interviews and other Pre-Agile methodologies by signing up for the announcement list for our upcoming book: http://bit.ly/PreAgileBook **** Are you trying to build a new product? Add features to an existing one? If you're going through the process of Customer Development, you'll want to know the best practices for conducting Customer Interviews. And if you're not doing this already, this is a great primer on how and why you should start!

Text of 18 Tips on Conducting Killer Customers Interviews

  • Everything you need to know in 100 slides or less* 18 Tips and Tricks on Conducting A Killer Customer Interview Customer Interviews *The slides are short. Itll go fast, I promise. Want to learn even more? Were writing a book: Pre-Agile Methodologies: A Tactical Guide To Not Building The Best Wrong Thing. Go to http://bit.ly/PreAgileBook to never build the wrong thing again.
  • Startups, SMBs, or F500 How Do Companies Die? Customer Interviews Step 1) Stop building what people want.* Step 2) ??? Step 3) Run out of money. *This assumes no tax fraud or other illegal activity. But if you had to learn that from a SlideShare presentation, maybe you should be in another line of work. Like working for Enron.
  • No one TRIES to disregard customers. The Status Quo Customer Interviews Sometimes they listen to the wrong sources. Sometimes the customers theyre listening to are no longer representative of where the market is going. And sometimes, like in the case of millennials, its a new customer segment that isnt well understood.
  • How do companies listen now? The Status Quo Customer Interviews Market Research Reports Trend Analysis Competitive Analysis Keeping up with the Joneses Intuition Solving their own problems
  • Stuff people dont care about Customer Interviews 1. Corporate initiatives 2. Internal Politics 3. Industry Trends 4. Features 5. Technology
  • Stuff people DO care about Customer Interviews 1. Having their problems solved.
  • So how do you know how to solve their problems? Customer Interviews
  • ... How do you even know what their problems are? Customer Interviews
  • By talking directly to customers. Customer Interviews
  • Because it turns out... Customer Interviews
  • You are not Charles Xavier. Customer Interviews
  • So why try to read minds... ... when you could just ask them? Customer Interviews
  • Part 1: The Rules to Customer Interviews Part 2: Techniques For Getting Stories Part 3: FAQ What do we need to know? Customer Interviews
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions The Rules Customer Interviews The answer to the question Do you want ice cream? is always Yes!
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions The Rules Customer Interviews What sane and rational person would answer No to this question?
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions The Rules Customer Interviews But the answer to the question Do you want this ice cream that costs $250? might turn out to be ... No.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions The Rules Customer Interviews Ice cream questions are when you withhold information and dont reveal all the costs associated with a benet.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #2: Pull, dont Push The Rules Customer Interviews The goal of these interviews is to learn about their problems. You want to PULL information out of your interviewee. You do not want to PUSH your ideas on to them. For example...
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #3: No Leading Questions The Rules Customer Interviews Subjects answering the question: Do you get headaches frequently and, if so, how often? reported an average of 2.2 headaches per week.
  • Rule #3: No Leading Questions The Rules Customer Interviews While subjects answering the question 'Do you get headaches occasionally and, if so, how often?' reported only 0.7 per week. [John Hayes, Interpersonal Skills at Work. Routledge, 2002 referencing Loftus (1975)]
  • Rule #3: No Leading Questions The Rules Customer Interviews Youve suggested the answer is by the phrasing of the question Youve lead them to where you want them... which is Push. Remember, you want to PULL information out of them.
  • Rule #3: No Leading Questions The Rules Customer Interviews Decisions based on bad data are worse than decisions based on no data.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #4: Past Behavior vs Future Behavior The Rules Customer Interviews How often are you going to work out at the gym next year? Im going to work out 3 times a week, every week. How many times a week have you been working out? Uh... zero.
  • Rule #4: Past Behavior vs Future Behavior The Rules Customer Interviews How often are you going to work outat the gym next year? Im going to work out 3 times a week, every week. How many times a week have you been working out? Twice a week, every week.
  • Rule #4: Past Behavior vs Future Behavior The Rules Customer Interviews It is incredibly difficult and rare for people to drastically alter their behavior. What a person HAS been doing is a great predictor of what they will do in the future.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self The Rules Customer Interviews Please describe your diet. I eat mostly Paleo. Meats, veggies, nuts... a little bit of fruit, sometimes milk.
  • Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self The Rules Customer Interviews Describe your last meal. We were in a rush to get to the Kanye concert, so I grabbed a slice of pizza on the way. After the show, we grabbed some Hot Dogs from a street vendor, then when I came home I had gummy bears and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.* *This example, unfortunately, is not ctional.
  • Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self The Rules Customer Interviews If you ask someone to describe themselves, they will tell you about their Ideal Self. How they see themselves. How they want to be. Ask for a story about the last time, and you will discover their Actual Selves.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #6: No Pitching The Rules Customer Interviews Would you use a shampoo that made your dog not smell bad anymore?
  • Rule #6: No Pitching The Rules Customer Interviews 1. Possible violation of Rule #1: There is probably more information they need to give a real answer. 2. Violating Rule #2: Youre supposed to be looking for (pulling) problems, not pushing solutions. 3. Violating Rule #4: Past behavior/Future Behavior 4. Violating Rule #5: Ideal Self vs. Actual Self
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof The Rules Customer Interviews N is a statistical term for sample size. N of 1 means you have a sample size of 1. Thats not good.
  • Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof The Rules Customer Interviews Youre looking for qualitative data, not quantitative. You dont need to achieve statistical signicance. But making decisions based on what you learned from a single person is dangerous.
  • Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof The Rules Customer Interviews Examples: I ride the bus. This product is solving my problem, so I know what I need to do. The guy on the bus said he doesnt really care how long he waits for the bus, so were pivoting to something different. The woman at the bus stop said she always checks the bus schedule online before she leaves, so were denitely on to something!
  • Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof The Rules Customer Interviews Any one of these behaviors could be representative of a larger population. But, any of these behaviors could also be exceptions to the norm. Keep interviewing people until youre hearing the same stories over and over and over again.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #8: No Seeding The Rules Customer Interviews Jump straight into the rst question. Do not tell the interview subject what your research is about. If you frame the context, theyll answer within that context... which means theyll try to give you the answers they think you want to hear.
  • Rule #1: No Ice Cream Questions Rule #2: Pull, Dont Push Rule #3: No Leading Questions Rule #4: Past Behavior --> Future Behavior Rule #5: Actual Self vs. Ideal Self Rule #6: No Pitching Rule #7: N of 1 is Not Proof Rule #8: No Seeding. Rule #9: Stories > Statements Part 1: The Rules Customer Interviews
  • Rule #9: Stories > Statements The Rules Customer Interviews Have you traveled recently? vs. Tell me about the last time you traveled.
  • Rule #9: Stories > Statements The Rules Customer Interviews Yes or No questions: Dont provide deeper insights Constrict the conversation Dont build rapport Getting someone to tell stories Lets them lead the conversation Reveals insights you couldnt predict Builds rapport and trust
  • Once you get someone telling stories, its hard to get them to stop. Customer Interviews
  • So how do you get someone telling stories? Customer Interviews
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Getting Stories Customer Interviews Its hard to come up with the best/worst time something happened, but its easy to remember the last time. And often, once they tell you about the last time, theyll say But that was nothing compared to THIS OTHER TIME...
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Getting Stories Customer Interviews Tell me about the last time you travelled out of the state. Tell me about the last time you went to a concert. Tell me about the last time you went on a rst date.
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #2: 5 Whys Getting Stories Customer Interviews Every time they make a statement, ask why. Use this technique to get to the underlying cause or to identify some root emotion. (5 isnt a set number. It could be 3, or 7, or 12.)
  • Technique #2: 5 Whys Getting Stories Customer Interviews I want to start going to the gym. Why? Because I want to be strong and t. Why? Because I want to be healthy. Why? Because I dont want to die of a heart attack when Im 40. Why? Because my dad died of a heart attack when he was 40.. Okay. Thats interesting! Now we understand their motivations. But why so many whys?
  • Technique #2: 5 Whys Getting Stories Customer Interviews I want to start going to the gym. Why? Because I want to be strong and t. Why? Because I want to girls to like me. Why? Because Ive only ever dated one person. Why? Because Im not good at connecting with people on an emotional level. See how their motivations diverged... but only a few levels down?
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #3: Tell me more. Getting Stories Customer Interviews Sometimes people will stop talking or end a story, but it feels like theres more. Maybe it feels like a good place to end, maybe they feel like theyve been talking too long, or theyre a little hesitant to share the next part. Simply prompting someone to tell you more will often result in deeper, more interesting stories.
  • Technique #3: Tell me more. Getting Stories Customer Interviews I went to Sicily last summer. I gured I wouldnt end up sorting through a bunch of pictures, so I didnt bother taking any. Tell me more? I used to take thousands of pictures of vacations with my fancy DSLR, but I have never looked through a single set. So I just stopped taking pictures.
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #4: What do you mean by... Getting Stories Customer Interviews Another technique to get people to elaborate on something they just said. What do you mean by If it wasnt for your horse, you wouldnt have spent that year in college.
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #5: How are you dealing... Getting Stories Customer Interviews Does the interviewee have any solution to their problem right now? Does it do the job effectively? Are they happy with it? ... or are they ignoring the problem completely?
  • Technique #5: How are you dealing... Getting Stories Customer Interviews You can learn a lot by knowing how they deal with their problem today.
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #6: Silence is Golden. Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #6: Silence is Golden. Getting Stories Customer Interviews See. Wasnt that a little awkward? People seek to ll silence. Look expectant that theres more they want to say. Let them be the one to ll the silence.
  • Technique #6: Silence is Golden. Getting Stories Customer Interviews Often this is when theyll start talking about something you never thought to ask.
  • Technique #1: Tell me about the last time... Technique #2: 5 Whys Technique #3: Tell me more. Technique #4: What do you mean by... Technique #5: How are you dealing with your problem now? Technique #6: Silence is Golden Technique #7: Walk away. Part 2: Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Technique #7: Walk away. Getting Stories Customer Interviews When you end the interview, the dynamic of the conversation changes. If youre having trouble getting an interview subject to open up, end the interview a bit abruptly. As you prepare to move on, make small talk. Often the subject will be much more relaxed, forthcoming, and you can continue without them realizing it.
  • Question #1: How do I get them to talk to me? Question #2: What if they never talk about the problem Im trying to solve? Question #3: How do I put these into a survey? Part 3: FAQ Customer Interviews
  • Question #1: How do I get people on the street to talk to me? Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews If youre approached on the street, your typical response is probably either: No thanks. Im busy. *Ignore*
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews But now the tables have turned. How do you get people to stop and talk to you?
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews According to a study by Langer, E., Blank, A., and Chanowitz, B. (1978) published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a researcher approached a line of people waiting for a photocopier and asked: Excuse me, I have ve pages. Could I use the copier next? with a 60% success rate. Not bad!
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews But when the researcher added the phrase because Im in a rush, the number soared from 60 percent to 94 percent! Totally awesome!
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews But heres the thing. They ran the experiment again. This time asking May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies. How many people do you think said yes to this silly request?
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews 93%. A mere 1% less than when you gave a real reason.
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews The secret word here is because. Even if your because clause is meaningless, simply using the word will bypass peoples natural defenses.
  • Question #1: The Approach FAQ Customer Interviews So try opening with Excuse me, Im working on a project and I was wondering if I could ask you a few quick questions. Working on a project doesnt MEAN anything... but behavioral psychology says thats apparently okay.
  • Question #2: What if they wont talk about the problem Im trying to solve? Getting Stories Customer Interviews
  • Question #2: Not Cooperating FAQ Customer Interviews Remember Rule #2? Pull, Dont Push If they wont talk about the problem you are trying to solve without prompting... If you cant get them to independently say Hey, you know what sucks? This thing! Then maybe...
  • Question #2: Not Cooperating FAQ Customer Interviews Its not that big of a problem for them.
  • Question #2: Not Cooperating FAQ Customer Interviews If youre not solving a Top 3 Problem chances are... Theyre not going to care about your product. Theyre not going to pay for your product.
  • Question #2: Not Cooperating FAQ Customer Interviews So instead, explore into the problems they ARE talking about.
  • What have we learned? Wrapping up Customer Interviews 1. The rules for a good customer interview 2. Good techniques to get stories 3. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
  • Where can I learn more? Wrapping up Customer Interviews Enjoy this? Want to learn even more? Were writing a book: Pre-Agile Methodologies: A Tactical Guide To Not Building The Best Wrong Thing. Go to http://bit.ly/PreAgileBook to never build the wrong thing again.
  • So whats next? Wrapping up Customer Interviews Go forth. Interview. Build great products.