Customer Interviews: Collecting Product Feedback

So you are a product manager, and you wish to understand what customers do with your products. And you have management approval to do customer interviews to get product feedback. What comes next?

A. Identify your research hypothesis
Will you be doing a customer survey or in-depth interviews? Will you perform statistical analysis on the data. Are you going to conduct these interviews every quarter or is this a one-off initiative.

B. Create a contact list
Do you have designations, email ids and phone numbers for these people? Which verticals, geographies and account sizes are you targeting?

C. Check with do-not-call lists, account teams
The account teams will give you strong indications on whether the account is positive, neutral or negative. You must stay in contact with them before any interviews. In fact, it might be a good idea to invite them for the call/meeting.

D. Prepare a questionnaire
What features of the product do you want feedback on, what are the key product dimensions you want analyzed, what are the customers pain points, what is their perception of the market and so on. A formal questionnaire to follow-up with after your meeting will help both parties to stay focused.

E. Do the interview
Set up a suitable time and place, and collect the customer feedback. Make sure that you take extensive notes, or preferably record the interview for transcribing later. Ensure that the customer is aware that you are recording them.

F. Build a data collection and analysis plan
What data points are you collecting, how are the results presented (Powerpoint, Excel charts etc). How do you plan to keep the data confidential?

G. Share the results with everyone
It is important that you share your insights with the engineering, marketing and senior management teams. They are going to learn a lot about the product, and your customer interaction skills, from this initiative.

Bottom Line

Feedback forms by themselves are of little use in really understanding customers’ pain points. If you want to focus on customer development, or build awesome use cases or user stories, the key is to understand your customers. A good market research hypothesis, and your preparation for customer interviews, are vital to complete this initiative successfully.

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