What’s the best way to interview customers?

Intercom (A fundamentally new way to communicate with your customers)
Asking customers what you want to hear – Inside Intercom

Research study after research study has shown that people are very bad at predicting their future behaviour and attitudes. Therefore one of the worst, but sadly most common, research questions to ask is: Would you use feature x if we built it?

What’s the best way to interview customers?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Startup founders’ most common mistake in meetings — and how to avoid it | A Founder’s Notebook

1. Make your key goal for the meeting to learn from the other person. Keep that goal in mind during the meeting and as you’re preparing for it. You might find it changes your behavior in unusual ways. 2. Send background information in advance. You’d be surprised at how willingly people will read material in advance. 3. Before the meeting, write down questions to ask the person. Many founders tell you about their product and company, and then thin… (read more)

Andrew Tate (Writer, former Nueroscientist)
Why a SaaS customer hasn’t churned when they cancel

Send a succinct, targeted survey that forces the cancelled customer to pick the biggest and smallest reasons for churning. These surveys work best in three main forms: An exit survey that’s displayed upon hitting cancel, an automated (but seemingly personal) email survey in the cancellation confirmation email, or a highly personalized email with an open-ended question: What made you cancel?

Ruben Gamez (Founder of BidSketch)
Doing SaaS Cancellation Interviews (the Jobs-to-be-Done Way) | ExtendsLogic

My favorite way to [interview customers] is by doing “switch interviews”, in which you focus on how the customer stopped using one product and started using another.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Build your product to explicitly address a “Job To Be Done” | A Founder’s Notebook

Build your product to explicitly address a “Job To Be Done”. Focusing on a Job To Be Done removes the need to specify who your target customer is, because your target customer is anyone who needs to get this job done. If you discover that there are different jobs to be done, for example Clay Christensen’s example of a milkshake to provide breakfast on a commute and a milkshake to provide a treat for a child, you’ll likely find you have different … (read more)

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
A Practitioner’s Guide to Net Promoter Score (NPS) | Sachin Rekhi

Ask your customers: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”, with the possible answers ranging from 0 – 10. Group your customers into Promoters (9-10 score), Passives (7-8 score), and Detractors (0-6 score). Then subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters and you have your NPS score. The score ranges from -100 (all detractors) to +100 (all promoters). An NPS score that is great… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Asking or announcing…

We have to create environments where people choose, then ask them why. When you ask someone if they would use your new product, buy your new widget or participate in your new service once it’s ready, you will get a lie in response. People don’t mean to mess you up, but you’ve made the error of asking them to imagine a future they have trouble imagining. It’s incredibly different than asking them to justify what they already do.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: What does, “it’s too expensive,” mean?

“It’s too expensive,” rarely means, “we can’t afford it. ” Often, it actually means, “it’s not worth it. ” This is a totally different analysis, of course.

Intercom (A fundamentally new way to communicate with your customers)
Asking customers what you want to hear – Inside Intercom

Research study after research study has shown that people are very bad at predicting their future behaviour and attitudes. Therefore one of the worst, but sadly most common, research questions to ask is: Would you use feature x if we built it?

Joe Natoli (UX Consultant, Speaker & Author at Give Good UX / Twofold)
The Easy Way to IA: Start with Information Priority (Video)

Get the internal stakeholders to list the categories of information they think users of the product care about, in order of importance. Then, ask users what categories of information they care about. Don’t anchor them with the categories you’ve come up with — ask open ended questions. Present the results in a three-column table: Column 1: information category. Column 2: how we thought users ranked it. Column 3: how users actually ranked it.

Tomasz Tunguz (Partner at Redpoint Ventures)
8 Customer Discovery Questions to Validate Product Market Fit for Your Startup

1. How did you hear about the product? 2. What process did you use to pick this product over the competition? 3. Why did you choose this product? 4. Which teams in the company use the product, and how has that changed over time? 5. How important is this product compared to other software? 6. How much do you pay? 7. How quickly is the product evolving? 8. To whom would you recommend this product?

Eric Ries (Author, The Lean Startup)
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to … – Eric Ries – Google Books

We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want. We must discover whether we are on a path that will lead to growing a sustainable business.

Alan Klement (Author and Consumer Insights Analyst)
Filling in Lean’s Gaps | Jobs-to-be-Done

1. Exposition. In story telling (narratives) it often helps to introduce background information which sets the stage before the main plot begins so the audience can quickly understand the context in which everything happens. The same is true for product design. 2. Observation. Identify two things: (1) The pre-existing behaviors customers do now and have done in the past. (2) The purchases which customers make and have made in the past. 3. Situati… (read more)

Benson Garner (Owner & Co-Founder Innovation Principle, LLC)
8 Tips For Conducting Interviews That Deliver Relevant Customer Insights — Strategyzer

Adopt a beginner’s mindset. Listen with open ears and an open mind and avoid interpreting customer responses too early. Get facts, not opinions. Ask questions that get your customers to share facts and experiences rather than questions that result in opinions. Don’t ask “Would you.. ?” Ask “When is the last time you.. ?” or “Tell me about a time when you.. ?” Ask “why” to get real motivations. Ask “why?” frequently. You might ask “Why do you need… (read more)

Mike Fishbein (Content Marketing at Alpha UX)
The Ultimate List of Customer Development Questions

[Questions to ask] 1. What do you think could be done to help you with [problem]? 2. What would your ideal solution to this problem look like?* 3. If you could wave a magic wand and instantly have any imaginable solution to this problem, what would it look like? 4. What’s the hardest part about [what you do currently]? 5. What are you currently doing to solve this problem/get this value? 6. What do you like and dislike about [competing product or… (read more)

Ruben Gamez (Founder of BidSketch)
What I Learned From Increasing My Prices | ExtendsLogic

Some of the questions I was trying to answer at this point: What industry do they belong to? How many users do they have? How often do they use [the product]? What features do they use the most?

Ruben Gamez (Founder of BidSketch)
What I Learned From Increasing My Prices | ExtendsLogic

How many employees do you have and how many people use [the product]? How much time does [the product] save you on each proposal? How important is feature X to you/your team? Describe your typical/ideal proposal workflow.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to truly understand your customers | A Founder’s Notebook

It’s not enough to ask what your customers want; you also need to understand what makes them successful.

David Cummings (Managing Partner at Shotput Ventures)
Live Chat for Sales and Customer Service | David Cummings on Startups

Live chat is incredibly powerful for sales and customer service. If you can staff it with a product expert, it’s worth running a two week trial and assessing the results. Here are a few tips when using live chat: Consider using it on more critical pages like pricing and FAQ instead of all pages. Running it inside the web app for support is a great way to engage with customers and trial users in the context of their product usage. Connect the live… (read more)

http://www.givegoodux.com/fast-easy-way-to-uncover-user-needs/ (UX Consultant, Speaker & Author at Give Good UX / Twofold)
The Fast (and Easy) Way to Uncover User Needs | User Experience, User Interface Design Coaching, Speaking and Workshops

It’s not just what you ask — it’s how you ask

As you’ll see, asking the right questions starts with the actual form of the questions you ask. These should be open-ended, non-leading, non-specific questions that let the person fill in the details of the answer. You don’t ask them about what software or hardware they use; you ask them what they do, how they would complete a task.

That means you don’t ask a question like “how do you use the [ … (read more)

http://www.givegoodux.com/fast-easy-way-to-uncover-user-needs/ (UX Consultant, Speaker & Author at Give Good UX / Twofold)
The Fast (and Easy) Way to Uncover User Needs | User Experience, User Interface Design Coaching, Speaking and Workshops

Asking this set of questions across even a small pool of people — ten or less — will show you clear, recurring themes and patterns that can be used to validate user needs:

1. How do you define a successful work day? What has to happen in order for you to feel good when you leave?

2. Does that definition of success (and your stated goals) change from day to day — or from week to week? Are there certain times of year where what you need to ac… (read more)

What’s the best way to do effective marketing?

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Instant yes

The instant yes is precious. It’s earned, it doesn’t last forever, it’s easily abused.
Not the yes of, “I’ll look it over and if it makes sense or fits in my calendar or is profitable then of course, I’ll do it,” but the yes of, “yes.”

Do you want to try our daily special, it’s really good? Do you want to see my new project proposal? Will you come to this event I’m holding? Will you contribute to this discussion? Can I borrow $500?

How man… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Obvious or elegant?

A friend used to eat a food, out of a white generic can, that had one word on the label: MEAT.
On the other hand, Vogue magazine isn’t called, “That magazine with expensive dresses and skinny sad models”. It’s really tempting to believe that the answer to your marketing problem (what to name it, how to describe it, what to write about it…) is to be obvious, brutal, direct, hyper-clear.
And that can certainly work. It works for fire alarms. I… (read more)

Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO of Amazon)
The Institutional Yes

Another thing that we believe is pretty fundamental is that the world is getting increasingly transparent—that information perfection is on the rise. If you believe that, it becomes strategically smart to align yourself with the customer. You think about marketing differently. If in the old world you devoted 30% of your attention to building a great service and 70% of your attention to shouting about it, in the new world that inverts.

Bill Gurley (General Partner at Benchmark Capital)
The Dangerous Seduction of the Lifetime Value (LTV) Formula | Above the Crowd | By Bill Gurley

Marketing executives like big budgets, as big budgets make it easier to grow the top line. The LTV formula “relaxes” the need for near term profitability and “justifies” the ability to play it forward – to spend today for benefits that are postponed into the future. Consider that most companies limit any “affiliate fee” they would be willing to spend to 5-10% of sales. Yet when they are marketing, they use different math. They use LTV math, and a… (read more)

Belle Beth Cooper (Co-founders of Hello Code)
People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions of Themselves – The Buffer Blog

Here’s how our friends at User Onboarding explained features vs. benefits: “People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves. When you’re trying to win customers, are you listing the attributes of the flower or describing how awesome it is to throw fireballs?”

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Focus on the job, not the customer type | A Founder’s Notebook

Focus on the job, not the customer type

Allison Johnson (Founder west, Former Head of Marketing at Apple)
Allison Johnson: We Have Enough Companies Like Apple on Vimeo

Marketing is when you have to sell to somebody. If you aren’t providing value, if you’re not educating them about the product, if you’re not helping them get the most out of the product, you’re selling. And you shouldn’t be in that mode.

Allison Johnson (Founder west, Former Head of Marketing at Apple)
Allison Johnson: We Have Enough Companies Like Apple on Vimeo

The marketing team was right next to the product development and engineering teams. So we understood deeply what was important about the product, what the team’s motivations were in the product, what they hoped that product would achieve, what role they wanted it to have in people’s lives.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Content Marketing Simplified – AVC

There is a growing market out there for content marketing. In many ways I see this as the future of online marketing. Instead of paying tens of millions of dollars a year (or more) creating banner ads and paying to run them on pages filled with someone else’s content, marketers can create their own web and mobile presences and use the most efficient form of advertising, pay per click advertising, to drive traffic to these pages and then engage in… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Hot: A theory of propulsion

Today, we’re getting virtual punches, from every direction, all self-propelled, many of them amplified. The ideas that propel themselves on the tailwinds of culture will dominate, opposed only by the people who care enough to propel ideas that matter instead. Maybe you.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Self awareness in the face of marketing

Mostly, marketing is what we call it when someone else is influenced by a marketer. When we’re influenced, though, it’s not marketing, it’s a smart choice. Do you use that toothpaste because they ran ads that resonated with you, or because you think it actually makes your teeth whiter? It doesn’t have to be this way… The thing is, placebos work even if you’re smart enough to know that they’re placebos. We can create better decisions and more am… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: 3-D printers, the blockchain and drones

On the other hand, it took a long time for the story of the mobile phone to be deeply understood. For years, it was seen as a phone without wires, not a supercomputer that would change the way a billion people interact. Most of the stories of Bitcoin haven’t been about the blockchain. They’ve been about speculators, winning and losing fortunes. And most of the stories of 3-D printers have been about printing small, useless toys, including little … (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: The mythical 10x marketer

Beyond that, the 10x marketer embraces two apparently contradictory paths: Persistence in the face of apathy. Important marketing ideas are nearly always met with skepticism or hostility, from co-workers, from critics and from the market. Showing up, again and again, with confidence and generosity, is the best response. The willingness to quit what isn’t working. Sometimes the marketer faces a dip that must be survived, but the 10x marketer is a… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Hacking reciprocity

“Helping other people” is not what they’re doing. What they’re doing is hacking reciprocity as a tool to help them get what they want. They’re trading favors. Some people have had success with this, but please don’t denigrate the very human activity of actually helping others by conflating it with trading favors. If you want to help other people, go help them. Without regard for credit or for what you get in return.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Overcoming the biggest barrier with a first-time buyer | A Founder’s Notebook

How can you earn a potential customer’s trust? Prove you’re acting in their best interest by truly understanding their needs. To do that, ask the right questions and get inside their head. Then, once they know you understand their needs, avoid hype about your product.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: The most important question

The most important question in marketing something to someone who hasn’t purchased it before is, “Do they trust me enough to believe my promises?” Without that, you have nothing.

Intercom (A fundamentally new way to communicate with your customers)
Price is what you pay, Value is what you get – Inside Intercom

Tip: Customers who have bought your product recently will describe it far better than you can

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Be wary of adjectives and especially adverbs. Anytime you use qualifiers like “very”, you’re overstating your point, which shows that you’re nervous about it.

Andy Raskin (CMO for hire, Director of Product Marketing at Mashery)
What I Learned Crafting Messaging for 15 Startups — Firm Narrative — Medium

1. Conversations about messaging are really about strategy. 2. The hardest thing about messaging is leaving things out. 3. Strategic messaging matters for recruiting. 4. Differentiation can become a distraction. Prospects have to understand what you do before they’re ready to learn how you do it differently

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Don’t guess. Measure.

How can I interview a customer?

Research study after research study has shown that people are very bad at predicting their future behaviour and attitudes. Therefore one of the worst, but sadly most common, research questions to ask is: “Would you use feature ‘x’ if we built it?”

Intercom in Asking customers what you want to hear

(h/t David Jackson in The survey question you should never ask)