What kind of questions should I ask during a customer interview?

Customer research is an important part of any marketing, but it’s especially important when it comes to copy and user experience.

Speaking directly to customers (or surveying them) is essential to uncovering your customers’ motivations, how they think, behave, communicate, and so much more.

Beyond gathering customer insights, interviewing and/or surveying customers is a great way to capture Voice of Customer data (the language, words, phrases they use), which comes in handy when it’s time to write copy that will resonate with your target audience.

Without this kind of information, it would be difficult to create an effective website or landing page that engages your target audience and drives them to take an action.

So now that you know customer research is important, how do you know what to ask during an interview or in a survey?

The answer to this question depends entirely on the type of customer you want to learn more about.

Below I break down some of the most common types of customers you may want to research and what to ask when you get them on the phone.

Psst! Get my FREE Customer Interview Script + Questions here 

Potential customers

This group can include email subscribers, people who have opted in to a free offer, or people who fit your target audience in one way or another.

The goal of these interviews is not to focus on your product/brand/solution, but rather, to learn more about who they are, what they care about, how they think, how they behave, and how they make decisions.

To do that, try asking more general questions like…

  • Tell me about _____ (yourself, your life, your business, your skincare routine, etc).
  • What goals are you trying to accomplish?
  • How do you go about accomplishing those goals?
  • What’s currently holding you back from achieving them?
  • Are you using any solutions to help you?
    • If yes, which ones?
    • If no, can you think of a time when you felt motivated look for solutions?
  • What would motivate you to try _____ (your solution)?

Trial users

This group includes anyone who has signed up for your free software trial, your subscription service, or even beta users.

It may be obvious, but the goal of these interviews is to focus more on the trial user’s experience — the good, the bad, and the ugly — so you can get a better sense of what’s working, what’s not, and what may need to change.

To do that, try asking questions like…

  • How would you describe _____ to a friend?
  • Since beginning the trial, how has your _____ changed? (i.e. – workflow, lifestyle, etc)
  • Since beginning the trial, have you experienced any tangible results?
  • Based on your experience so far, do you believe you’ll become a customer? Why or why not?
  • What would convince you that _____ is the right solution for you?

Current customers

This group includes anyone who is actively paying you money for your product or service.

The goal of these interviews is to uncover as much as you can about what was going on before they became a customer and how they’re currently using your product/service.

You also want to learn more about their first impressions, where they’re finding the most value, how they may talk about you to their friends, and so on.

To do that, try asking questions like…

  • How did you find out about _____?
  • Why did you first decide to try _____?
  • Before becoming a customer, did you have any doubts?
  • How are you (or your business) currently using _____?
  • Which feature could you (or your business) not live without?
  • If you were to recommend us to a friend, what would you say?

Churned customer

This group includes customers who actively chose to end their relationship with you (i.e. – it does not include people whose credit cards expired, a trial that expired, etc).

The goal of these interviews is to understand why they left, how you failed their expectations, and how you may be able to improve in the future to improve retention.

To do that, try asking questions like…

  • What’s the single biggest reason for you cancelling, unsubscribing, returning, etc?
  • What could we have done differently to improve your experience?
  • What can we change that would make you to continue as a customer?
  • Did you switch to a new solution? If yes, which and why?
  • Is there any other feedback you’d like to share with us?

Ready to make some calls and send some surveys?

Uncovering valuable customer insights all starts with asking the right questions.

While the examples above are meant to help you get started, it’s important to craft your own questions that align with the goals you’re looking to achieve and the information you seek.

Here are some final tips that should help you stay on track:

✓ Avoid “yes or no” questions

✓ Make sure you’re listening more than you’re talking

✓ Treat every question as a conversation, not an interrogation

✓ For the best results, stick to open-ended, non-leading questions

✓ Never ask “why” — follow-up with “Can you tell me more about that?”

Need help crafting the right questions for your next customer research project?

Download my FREE Customer Interview Script + Questions for inspiration and ideas!

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