Getting the Most out of Customer Phone Interviews

July 19th, 2016
make the most of customer phone interviews

As we all know, customer feedback is one of the most valuable assets when it comes to being successful – otherwise, how do you know you’re on the right track? Since it is just as important to ensure you maintain your customer base as it is to expand it, customer research plays a vital role in determining how your brand is perceived in the marketplace. Sometimes developing the right questions to ask in order to gain the most insight is the hardest part.

A few months ago, we shared our guidelines for better customer research. This week, we’re going to take that a step further and dive into one of the most effective ways to conduct your research: phone interviews.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your customer phone surveys.

Background Questions

Start off by getting a good feel for your customers’ perspective. Customers’ responses to these questions will help you get inside their heads and learn their thought process, so you can determine what actually matters to them on a day-to-day basis. Goals include:

  • Discover common issues or headaches
  • Figure out what they are currently doing to solve this issue, and why they chose this option (i.e. What was the main influence in their purchasing decision?)
  • Dig for potential opportunities to cross-sell (i.e. Are they fully utilizing all of your capabilities?)

Perceptions of Competition

One goal of customer research is to determine how your customers consider other options in the market. Hearing how different solution providers differ in the eyes of the customer will provide insight into how your brand weighs against your competition – detect where you could be falling short, or even identify an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. For example:

  • What alternative solutions do they know of? (i.e. Who is out there that could take your business? Is your customer even aware of any other options?)
  • What would compel them to switch solution providers? (i.e. How loyal is your customer to your brand? How could a competitor steal your business?)
  • If their current solution didn’t exist, what would they do? (i.e. What is the next best option if you weren’t around? If they know off the top of their head, they’ve probably already thought about it.)

Perceptions of Your Service/Product

We ultimately want to reveal their true sentiment surrounding your product/service. How they feel about your offering not only influences your business with them, but could also influence any potential business opportunities in the future, because as we all know, people talk. Consider the following:

  • What do you do for them? (i.e. Are they aware of all your capabilities? [cough, CROSS-SELL, cough])
  • How do they know you’re doing a good job? (i.e. What standards does your customer have for the type of service/product you offer?)
  • Ask specific questions about the key benefits you promise customers. For example, on scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best):
    • How easy is it to do business with you?
    • How reliable are your service/product?
    • How would they rank the overall quality?
  • How would they introduce you to a peer? (i.e. What do people say about your service/product? How can this impact your reputation in the industry?)
  • What would they change about your service/product? (i.e. How can we improve to retain and grow our business?)

And most importantly, remember to always be yourself. Just kidding – we recommend using a third party to conduct the interview to ensure you get honest feedback. If they know they’re speaking to the company whose products/services which they’re critiquing, they may be less candid with their responses.


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