Customer feedback is the foundation of building a good product. When you collect feedback regularly, you are always up to date with the wants, needs, desires, and complaints of your customers. Also, you can expect all of your metrics to look better, including more churn and lower revenue.
There are countless ways to collect feedback and one of the most popular qualitative methods is the customer interview. There is so much you can capture from a single interview, which begs the question - should you run continuous interviews with your customers?
Today, we’ll find out more about continuous interviewing - what it is and whether you should do it with your customers.
What is continuous interviewing?
Continuous interviewing is the practice of getting in touch with your customers regularly to run interviews with them. That’s it. Instead of talking to customers occasionally (good) or just once (pretty bad), you talk to the same customers at different times to catch up with their use of your product.
What are the benefits of continuous interviewing?
You may be considering running these kinds of interviews, but given the time investments, you probably have your doubts. There are some unique advantages to continuous interviewing.
You’re always in contact with your customers. With this in mind, you wouldn’t risk a new feature or a change ruining the entire user experience. Being close to your customer all the time keeps you in the loop about their feedback.
You find out how your customers actually use your product. Despite our best intentions and efforts, we make a lot of assumptions about how customers use our products. You no longer have to rely on these and you can collect feedback first-hand.
You can validate your ideas before investing time and money into them. You have a pool of customers that know and use your product and you can check any idea with them before doing any more research or time on a new feature.
Are there any downsides?
Well, not too many. The biggest downside of running continuous interviews is that it can be very time-consuming. Setting aside time for one interview is difficult enough, but when you have to run several of them every week with the same people, it’s quite a bit of stress. If you don’t have someone dedicated to this in customer success or product, continuous interviewing is practically impossible.
The second biggest downside is the fact that despite being highly valuable data, what you get from these interviews is qualitative data. If you want to tell a story and inform your decisions, it’s an excellent resource. However, it’s still missing the quantitative element, which is crucial for comparisons.
How often should I run continuous interviews?
In reality, it depends on many things. We all aspire to talk to as many customers as we can all the time, but the reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day and you have a limited number of people on your team.
Once per week would be ideal, but it rarely happens in real life. Only if you have a handful of customers and you’re just getting started, this can be done. As you start growing your product and customer base, this tempo is not sustainable.
And once that happens, running continuous interviews once per month is a great practice. Of course, you should handpick the select few customers to talk to, and then the process becomes entirely manageable.
What’s important is not to allow too much time to go by between customer interviews. For instance, once every 6 months would definitely be infrequent.
How to run continuous interviews
Talking to your customers often has quite a few perks. But where do you start? With the customers, of course.
Recruit a group of customers
Remember that the person(s) signing up for continuous interviews are not just saying yes to a one-time conversation. They’re in it for the long haul so they need to have an immediate benefit from you in some shape in order to get on board.
Some things that you can offer to your customers include:
Early access to new features
An extra month, two, or as many as they want on top of their subscription
Personalized product assistance, e.g. an account manager
Vouchers for stores and marketplaces like Amazon
Think of something that is sustainable and that is not a one-time offer. Rather, this should be something that they can benefit from each month as they are with you.
Come prepared for each interview
Write down a number of questions you want to ask your customers before each interview. These could be the same set of questions such as:
What do you like the most about the product?
Which feature have you used the most in the past month?
Which feature would you remove and why?
This is a clever way to set a baseline and monitor for any changes in customers’ expectations and attitudes.
If you’ve recently launched something new, you can ask customers questions such as:
How do you find our new feature?
Are there any changes in the way you use our product?
Have you considered any other products that would solve the same problem for you?
Reflect on the past instead of asking your customers to predict the future.
Determine if you need qualitative or quantitative feedback
Realistically, everyone needs a mix of both qualitative and quantitative feedback.
However, you need to determine which one is your priority, and based on that, you can choose the method for your interviews. For example, you can include questions that are graded on a scale or those where customers can respond with a true or false answer.
Granted, these may be easier to answer in a written form but in an interview, you can use them as a quick way to get quantitative insights.
Document your findings
Continuous interviews give the ability to compare customer statements over time. To do this properly, make sure to document your findings in the shape of written or video content to have a basis for comparison.
Bear in mind that if you do audio or video interviews, you’ll need to spend an additional amount of time transcribing your interviews and then whittling them down into something that is easy to read and compare.
Use a tool to add a quantitative element to your interviews
Tools such as FeedBear are the ideal complement to your user interviews. You can add FeedBear to your website and your customer communications to let your customers vote on the features and initiatives they want you to work on.
Get to interviewing
Armed with this knowledge, you’re not ready to start talking to your customers. There is a world of opportunities out there and it all starts with collecting customer feedback. Speaking of which, FeedBear can help you add a quantitative element to your qualitative user research. Sign up today for your free trial to see how FeedBear makes collecting customer feedback a collaborative process!