Before you can head into the interview stage, you must first think about what makes good customer service. There’s a big miscommunication going on, because despite 80% of businesses believing they deliver outstanding customer service, only 8% of customers feel like they are receiving it. That’s a massive gap, and one that companies need to start bridging.
Why? Well, studies have indicated that 55% of customers would be more loyal with good service, 47% would recommend the business to others, and 26% would use the company more often as well as spend more money. In short, bad customer service is losing you money as well as customer loyalty. What makes good customer service? It’s actually quite simple:
- Being responsive. Reply to emails, comments, and mentions. Engage with them and show them that you want to fix the issue.
- Fast response times. Don’t take days, reply within a few hours. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and customers will appreciate the speed and efficiency.
- Competence. People get frustrated if customer support does not have all the information, and rightly so. Train your staff, and yourself, to handle every situation effectively.
- Manners. You need to be polite, friendly, and follow service etiquette when interacting with customers. Without that, you are sure to end up with some very unhappy ones.
- Empathy. Compassion and care are so important. Remember that you never truly know the battles other people are fighting, and you should be sympathetic to their cause at all times.
- Learn. You can learn from the experiences of other companies when improving your customer support. After all, there are some out there that really know how to handle people.
What’s the Point in a Customer Interview?
They are actually really important, because they let you really understand what customers feel about your business. You can gather clear and unbiased information effectively and keep it on record to make improvements where necessary. How about a little more detail on the reasons why, though?
- It forces you to engage with your customers
- It’s the perfect early-warning system
- Explains what the customer wants and needs
- Which needs have to be addressed, and which are a priority
- Shows the strengths/weaknesses of your products compared to the competition
How to Create a Customer Interview
The first part of any successful interview is the planning. This is a vital part of the process because you need to plan out your questions and the way in which you are going to actually conduct the process. To help you out, I have some fantastic tips and tricks for creating the perfect interview.
STEP ONE: form an interview team. You should have at least two people and no more than three in an interview team. You are there to ask the questions, the other is there to make notes, and the third is often an industry expert that is there for support, expertise, and additional questions.
STEP TWO: decide on the depth of the interview. Do you want the questions to be broad or more detailed? You have to determine what kind of interview you are conducting before you can even write the questions. You can use it to focus on customer problems and complaints, or even specific products that you want to know more about in terms of appeal and reaction.
STEP THREE: finding the right customer. This step takes the most time because you need to be careful and make sure that you get it right. You need a good balance of customers, including those who nearly bought and ultimately decided against it. Take the time to get to know them and what they will be able to bring to the interview process.
STEP FOUR: write a script. The finished piece should contain around ten questions; not too long and not too short. The best way to come up with the perfect questions is to think of as many as possible and write them all down; cutting out the poor or irrelevant ones as you go. Make sure the questions are open and not leading the customer to answer in a certain way. Their views need to come across clearly and with strength.
STEP FIVE: prepare yourself. It’s good to have a little gift for the customer as a thank you for coming out and completing the interview. You should also run through it a few times with your team to practice for the real thing.
Customer Interview Steps
Now you’re ready to interview your customer, and it can be done in a few very easy steps using the interview you have built in the previous section. Here’s the rundown for the actual interview:
STEP ONE: welcome them. Thank them for coming, ask if it is alright to record them, and reassure them that said recording will only be used for internal use.
STEP TWO: soft questions. This is like the warmup where you ask the soft questions that build up before things get more serious. See it as an introduction to make your customer feel at ease.
STEP THREE: meaty questions. This is where things get more serious, and you can get into the deeper questions that you want customers to answer. This is likely to be the longest part of the process, and you can really go into detail with your customer.
STEP FOUR: observer questions. If you have an observer/expert in the room that wants to ask questions, it is during this stage that they should do so. They should be designed to prompt a deeper level of thought and reflection for clear results that you can work with.
STEP FIVE: customer questions. Does the customer have anything they want to ask you or discuss with you? This is a great way to make them feel important and a bigger part of the process.
STEP SIX: finishing up. Now you can thank them for coming, give them their gift, and wrap the interview up.
STEP SEVEN: discussion time. When the customer has left, take the time to go over the results and see what everyone thought. Take a good 30 minutes to read through each question and see if there are valid points and changes that could be implemented to better the customer experience. Ask why and how instead of just glossing over them.
I hope that this has given you deeper insight into how to conduct customer interviews, as well as why they are such an important part of running a business. Your customers are everything, and if you do not take care of them, then you won’t be able to retain them. Something that businesses often forget is that existing customers are just as important as new ones (perhaps even more so). With these steps and advice, you are sure to be able to conduct a fantastic customer interview that provides you with a plethora of vital information.