As a customer experience (CX) team lead, John was well-versed in the various mechanisms to capture the voice of the customer, from five-point Likert scale surveys to rich in-person interviews. He found great value in customer interviews because they were a useful method to gain rich customer insights, but he often found it difficult to fully capture the rationale for customer thoughts and challenging to convert qualitative feedback into actionable insights for his peers.
CX leaders should assemble a combination of skills and expertise across diverse interviewers to capture the most useful insights
Although John possessed deep understanding of the end-to-end customer experience, he didn’t necessarily have the interviewing skills to easily uncover the “why” of customer behavior or the product expertise to clearly link consumer feedback to product features and functionality.
He needed a better way to engage customers directly to arrive at a better shared understanding of key issues across the organization.
According to research by CEB, now Gartner, CX leaders should assemble a combination of skills and expertise across diverse interviewers to capture the most useful insights during and after live interviews. Then deploy three best practices to create an effective customer interview process.
Assemble the right people in the room
Ensure you have the expertise needed for an effective interview. Proactively seek expertise in three key skill sets to increase the likelihood of success.
- Product and service knowledge: Understanding of product and service features and functionality
- Interviewing expertise: The ability to extract previously unarticulated customer needs
- Customer experience focus: A focus on creating the end-to-end customer experience strategy
While it’s possible to find all three skills in a single interviewer, it’s preferable to have multiple individuals in the room.
Ask the right questions
The best in-person interviews weave specific customer process/context questions and trigger/choice questions into a fluid and flexible linear timetable of events to uncover key points of opportunity and improvement. Customer process/context questions focus on understanding customers’ thinking and how they move through their journey. Trigger/choice questions are meant to uncover the key barriers, factors, decision points and mindset leading up to a customer interaction.
Record the best answers
Capture three elements in every customer interview: The customer’s process or timeline, the forces that drove them toward their ultimate decision and the forces that impeded their decision.
- To better grasp the customer timeline, ensure you understand what the customer did at each step of the process.
- To understand the forces of progress toward a decision, know what specifically “pushed” the customer into this situation or along their process as well as what specifically “pulled” the customer to this specific interaction.
- To clarify the forces of resistance, capture whether the customer has any “habits” or automatic steps they went through when specific situations arise, along with any concerns, worries or anxiety throughout the process
Effectively use in-person time with customers to capture their context, motivation and areas of resistance, and then develop an action plan based on the insights. Partner with internal stakeholders to prioritize and make informed changes to business processes.