Before conducting customer interviews know how you can build better content and basic interviewing techniques. Interviews are a great way to obtain information for creating personas, customer-centric content, case studies and testimonials. A recent research report from Marketing Sherpa shows that 41% of B2B companies are using interviews with customers to build personas (profiles of your buyer). The report identifies customer interviews as the most effective tactic for developing personas. These usually include demographics, environment and buyer behaviors.
1. Know the End Goal
When conducting customer interviews know what the end goal is before you begin. Are you creating customer-centric content for newsletters, blogs, case studies or websites? In each case, having the customer’s perspective is important. You can learn what customers value most and least from your company and what they want more of. The information can also be used to segment your audience by particular attributes. Adding customer testimonials and case studies builds your credibility. From interviews you can create interesting content rather than a cursory one-liner.
Who should conduct the interview? An employee with an existing relationship with the customer has built trust but is unlikely to get objective answers. A content writer skilled at building rapport quickly and asking targeted questions can be a good resource.
Where to conduct the interview? One-on-one in person interviews are great but when logistics and budgets make that impossible, the telephone or computer are good alternatives.
2. Be Prepared for the Interview
Ask yourself: What do I want to know? Target your questions to get the answers you need. What does your audience want to know? Content is created for consumption. It needs to be relevant. Ask questions your audience wants answered.
Who should you talk with to get the information you need? For example, don’t talk with a purchasing agent if you want to know how your product is being used in manufacturing. Find the person who is closest to the action.
Make an appointment ahead of time to talk with the customer. Be transparent about the reason why you want to talk. The interview needn’t be long. You can get the information you need in five minutes when the person is very busy. Most people like being interviewed if it doesn’t take too long.
3. Listen During the Interview
After asking a question, listen. Do not interrupt during a response. When customers know you are really listening to them, you will get better information. Listen for key phrases and metaphors used by the customer. Gauge levels of emotional involvement. You can tell when someone is excited or disappointed by the tone of voice they use. Make note of what is causing these reactions.
Get the back story. What is your position in the company? How long have you been doing it? What challenges were you facing before purchasing our product/working with our company?
Position the product or service. How does our product or service fit in your work process? What problem does it solve for you? (Look for action in the response.)
What kind of results have you found since using the product?
What do you like best about the product/service? Least?
Have you discovered other benefits from using the product? Or, working with our company?
Add a Thought. I like to end interviews with a question that allows the person to add their own thoughts. “Is there anything you would like to add?” Or, “Did I forget to ask something that is important to you?”
Always thank your customer for taking the time to talk with you. Allow them to review any information that is attributed to them before it is published.
4. Structure Information Gathered
When using customer interview information to create a persona, customer-centric content, case study or testimonial use a consistent format to record the information after each interview. This saves time and makes it available for future use. A content writer can put the pieces together creating valuable content that differentiates you from your competitors. These are some ways we build better content through customer interviews. Do you think customers enjoy being interviewed?