What Can You Learn from your Customers?

Brainstorm Interview Questions

Now that you’ve considered whom to interview, let’s start mapping out what your interview might look like.

What to do:

  1. Take some time to brainstorm an interview script on a piece of paper or in a word document. If it's your first time thinking about this, consider it an initial brainstorming session. If you’ve already spent time thinking about customer interviews, consider this an opportunity to revisit your ideas from a fresh perspective.

  2. Check out the "Explore Interview Script Examples"  below for title ideas

 

As you start pulling together your initial script, be sure to include the following basic elements:

  • An Introduction (How will you set the stage for the interview? What do you need to tell them about yourself?)

  • Questions (What questions will you ask to get the information you need?)

  • A Closing (How will you wrap up the conversation at the end? How can you thank them?)

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Explore interview Script examples

Writing an interview script requires laser-focused intentionality. An effective interview script will help you collect the data you need to understand your customer segment.

Check out drafts of a couple of customer interview scripts Below.

Customer Interview Script: for Attorneys

TIP: Notice how they use an Overview to outline the goals of the interview. This is not something they will share with their interviewee. It serves as their own personal road map for what they are trying to accomplish.

This interview is intended to determine what exact needs a small legal firm or solo practitioner has. The types of questions I am looking to answer include:

  • What are the main sources of new business for attorneys?

  • How important are referrals in generating new business?

  • Tell us about the last time you got new business. Describe what happened. -(This is a great Question. Asking the people to interview to tell you about the last time they engaged in an activity that is of interest to you can lead to powerful insights.)

  • What are the attorney's views on being paid or getting paid for consults?

  • How important are professional networks and social networks for the development of business and the performance of services? (This is a leading question, aiming to confirm the importance of networks. Questions should be asked neutrally. A better question might have been: "Please share a few tactics that were effective in developing your business. Why were they effective?")

  • What are the main challenges with finding answers to client issues or getting support for client work? Ask for specific examples.(It is ALWAYS a good idea to seek examples and stories to support the information you are gathering.)

  • Are they a member of an alumni network, law club of some kind… how frequently do they interact with them? Willing to pay for membership, etc.…?

General introduction

  • Thank them for taking time to speak with me.

  • Explain the situation

    • Tell them about yourself and why you are planning a startup

    • Reason for the interview

      • "I'm conducting several interviews with attorneys to better understand their pain points, gathering inputs that help shape our product."

      • Our General problem we are trying to solve (This script does a good job of both defining their broad focus, as well as providing more specific examples. It is important to set good context at the beginning of the interview.)

      • "At a high level, we're seeking to understand pain points that attorneys practicing at small/boutique face."

      • "We're particularly interested in how attorneys generate new business."

Questions

(None of the questions listed below begin with "Why…" We'd recommend following up many of the questions below with "Why?" You may be surprised what you find out through prodding just a bit more.)

 

  1. How do you generate new business? (This is a good open-ended question. Your goal is to get specific examples. If you do not get specific examples after this initial question, simply follow up by asking them to share one.)

  2. What are some of your greatest frustrations specific to being a solo/boutique firm? (In some cases, this could be a good back-up question. Ideally, you will draw some of this out through stories. For example, you may ask a user to walk you through a typical day at work and follow it up by asking them to walk you through an especially frustrating day at work.)

  3. How often do you have a need to ask a quick question that you believe another lawyer could answer quickly, but you don't know the right lawyer to call? (There are several binary questions in this set, and several that can be answered with numerical responses. What do you think they are trying to get out of these questions? They may be trying to uncover whether their user has questions that need answered, but this is not a direct way of getting that information. We'd recommend being direct. "We are interested in understanding what happens when you need help answering a questions. Will you give us a few examples of questions you have needed answers to in the past? How did you get these answers? What worked well? What was challenging?")

  4. How often do you have a client matter that you need an attorney in an area of expertise other than your own to assist with?

  5. How often do you have a client referral that you cannot work on?

  6. How much time would you typically spend trying to source the attorney for each of the above?

  7. Do you offer payment for consults with other attorneys? Do you expect payment? Why?

  8. What resources do you use to find these other attorneys?

  9. What is the single biggest source of new business for you?

  10. What role do online social/professional networks play in your practice?

  11. What role do offline networks (bar associations, alumni groups, etc.) play in your practice?

  12. How much do you spend on legal research software per month? (This is a great question for gaining a sense of the user's budget and willingness to spend.)

  13. Does your practice accept credit cards? Why? (This is another binary question that won't yield as much information as an open-ended question.)

Customer Interview Script for Investment Bankers in Nigeria

This interview is intended to determine what needs an investment banker has for macroeconomic data for making business decisions.

General introduction

  • Thank them for taking time to speak with me.

  • Explain the situation

  • Tell them about yourself and why you are planning a startup

  • Reason for the interview

  • "I'll like to understand the investment management/loan pricing/security issuance process and the challenges you have to overcome to ensure you earn risk adjusted returns or remain profitable."

  • THE general problem you're trying to solve

  • "We are currently working on a data analytics platform that will give users the ability to transform dataset on the Nigerian financial system into useful information. This platform is to assist our clients in predicting macroeconomic variables and in identifying and managing latent risk in the financial system."(Be more specific about who the client is and what the expected benefit is for them)

This interview is intended to determine what needs an investment banker has for macroeconomic data for making business decisions.

General introduction

  • Thank them for taking time to speak with me.

  • Explain the situation

  • Tell them about yourself and why you are planning a startup

  • Reason for the interview

  • "I'll like to understand the investment management/loan pricing/security issuance process and the challenges you have to overcome to ensure you earn risk adjusted returns or remain profitable."

  • THE general problem you're trying to solve

  • "We are currently working on a data analytics platform that will give users the ability to transform dataset on the Nigerian financial system into useful information. This platform is to assist our clients in predicting macroeconomic variables and in identifying and managing latent risk in the financial system."(Be more specific about who the client is and what the expected benefit is for them)

Questions

  1. Please describe your company's investment selection process. (Questions should be short and targeted. Check out these questions. The subsequent questions are for digging into more details, if necessary. The goal in this case is to simply have the person walk through their investment process.)

  2. How do you allocate funds across asset classes?

  3. How do you decide which assets to select?

  4. How are trades executed?

  5. Please describe your bank's lending process. Specifically, how do you price loans?

  6. Does the interest rate vary by client?

  7. What is your role in the investment selection / lending / security issuance process? (This question would perhaps be better suited later. For now, there is more opportunity to continue digging into the process.)

  8. Which data do you gather, monitor, and analyze for your investment selection / lending / security issuance process? (Being well organized will create flow. Here it would be smart to break this down into three questions for each activity, nesting the relevant question under each activity. As it currently is, the interview asks about investments, then hops to lending, then back to investments.)

  9. Do you or your colleague/subordinates have access to data relevant to the job or know where to access such data? (This question could be more concise and clear. For example, "How do you access this data?")

  10. Do you use any tool(s) or platform(s) for sourcing and analyzing data relevant to the job?

  11. If you currently use a data platform, please which platform(s) do you use and what has been your experience?

  12. If you are not currently using a data platform, may I enquire the reason(s)?

  13. Is/are there feature(s) you consider will facilitate your work but is currently not available on your existing data tool/platform(s)? (This would be a great opportunity to follow up with a "Why?" question. "Why?" questions can give us powerful insights.)

  14. How much do you currently spend in a month to source data pertinent to the job or to subscribe to a data platform?

  15. What are the monetary and non-monetary costs to you of making an uninformed decision?

  16. How much would you be willing to payper month to access a data platform that will enable you make better informed decisions? (This question is a difficult one to ask. It is often favorable to ask how much they are currently spending.)

Questions to dig deeper and explore emotions

  1. What are you trying to accomplish every day you walk into the office or sit at your desk to start the day? ("Walk me through a day at work." would be an alternative way to ask this.)

  2. Please describe your emotion(s) or state of mind when you or a colleague/subordinate is unable to access data (or information) you consider pertinent to the job? (Alternatively, asking "What is the biggest hoop you had to jump in order to access data critical for your job?" Asking about extreme cases can bring out insightful emotions.)

  3. Please describe your emotion(s) or state of mind when you or a colleague/subordinate is able to access and retrieve data relevant to the job with little or no delay?

  4. Given an option to modify your current data platform(s) or to subscribe to a new one, what feature(s) would you like to add to make your work easier?

Conclusion

  1. What has been your experience dealing with data/software service providers? (Asking for specifics about the data vendors/ providers they currently use would likely lead to good insights here.)

  2. Do you have any advice for an upstart in the software-as-a-service business?

Gather Your Materials

Now that you’ve brainstormed interview questions and seen some example scripts it's time to organize your thoughts into a formal interview script.

Make sure you have everything listed below, then proceed to the "Create Your Interview Script" tile for instructions to pull your script together.

Materials Needed:

  • Brainstorming notes from earlier in the activity

  • Interview Script Template (This is included in the workbook. If you don't have it yet, you can download the workbook by clicking on the "Download" link to the right.)

  • Pad of sticky notes

  • Pen or pencil

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Learn from the experts

Your preparations are complete. It's time to put it all together and Get to Know Your Customers.

What to do:

  1. Make any final adjustments to your Customer Interview Script.

  2. Review your Customer List and write down the names of people you'd like to interview.

  3. If you need help, ask for introductions and referrals to potential customers from your friends, family, and co-workers.

  4. Schedule your interviews. You might meet your interviewees for coffee or plan a phone call or online meetup.

Plan to conduct 10, 20, or even 30 interviews—as many as you need to know your customers. Then, come back and continue with Step 3 of this activity.

Take Action