Mastering Market Research Interviews for Qualitative Insights That Map the Customer Journey
Updated: Jul 10
Tips for Getting the Most Out Of Customer Development Interviews
What motivated you to buy coffee from a different vendor this morning? Why did you hastily leave your network provider for another? What prompted you to start using a specific brand of detergent?
While many answers to these seemingly innocuous questions will delineate proximity and convenience, poor customer service experiences, or a low price-point – the truth is that many consumers make decisions unconsciously. This information begs the question, “if consumers don’t understand their own behaviours and perceptions, how can a company ever truly understand their market and define their design processes accordingly?”
The answer is fairly simple in theory. While metrics make the markets turn, consumer research and qualitative insight teems with opportunity by answering the questions that numbers don’t. They allow market researchers to gain valuable insights through in-depth conversations with customers. Customer discovery interviews are the most effective way to identify emotional motivators. There’s a catch, though, the art to getting it right.
If you speak to any award-winning journalist about the interviews they’ve conducted, they’ll systematically wince recounting their first time, and maybe their second or third, too. Researchers who specialise in qualitative interviews will invariably offer up the same initial interview distress when remembering how they sat in a room with their participants and awkwardly shuffled through notes and lengthy silences. Even the most ardent of researchers who thrive in the realm of ethnography and non-numerical data are not immune to the odd obstacle, but the road to discovery (customer discovery, that is), will never be without its challenges.
The key is to persevere, learn and lean into your own interview approach, to develop from the mishaps. While the task appears daunting, those adept at user discovery interviews will confirm your greatest expectations – rich, quality data that drives a deeper understanding of one’s customer.
Interview Objectives – Setting Goals and Pursuing Them
Setting a few clearly defined objectives for your interview will serve as your guide throughout the entirety of the process. Think about your goals for the interview.
Are you using this form of qualitative research to gather information about the customer journey or would you like to build a more developed persona?
Is your goal to speak to customers in order to validate or test hypotheses?
Are you conducting market research in order to understand user problems and unmask opportunities in an attempt to correct them?
Whether you’re a qualitative researcher, a product marketer or a UX designer conducting these interviews to better inform your product and branding strategies; clarifying your goal for the interview and will help you ask better questions. And better questions will determine the quality of the feedback you receive.
Getting Your Interviews Set Up – The Master Prep
Once you’ve gone through the participant recruitment process and you’re ready to get started with setting up your interviews, it’s best to formalise the logistics and do the background research. Establishing details such and time, place and equipment requirements will help to set your mind at ease so that you can start designing the interview questions.
Do the research
It should go without saying, but for the sake of emphasising its importance, we’ll say it again. Having done your research on the product, the industry, the target audience and competitors is a sure-fire way to prepare you for a slew of outcomes during the interview.
Arrange the Location
A carefully considered environment within which to conduct user-interviews will pay off. If you’re doing the interview in person, a quiet, well-lit and inviting space will foster a sense of comfort. If you’re interviewing remotely, ensuring that both you and the participant are able to communicate without interference from a noisy environment or lapses in internet connectivity is essential.
Recording the interview, taking notes and observing emotional responses all while navigating the script in a natural and conversational way will likely be the most difficult aspect of the discovery scenario to maneuver. Some researchers prefer having a second interviewer to help. Others rely on recording the interview for later transcription. Recording the interview and taking notes, especially during breakthrough moments, will help you parse through the information at a later stage – finding meaning or patterns without the potential loss of data.
Interview Questions – Asking the Right Questions
When designing interview questions, it helps to consider the participant being interviewed. Base your questions on the information you are looking to find and why you want to pursue an in-depth look into your research topic. While sticking to a rational structure in your line of questioning is crucial, it’s also necessary that you strategically go off script when there’s cause for it.
Some best practices regarding your interview questions:
Start off by asking simple questions to learn more about the participant whilst building rapport and easing some of the interview tension.
Write conversational and discourse-provoking interview questions and practice a few phrases to prompt users to elaborate on an answer.
Use empathy by asking follow-up questions that relate to the research participant’s answers.
Avoid leading questions that merely serve your problem statement.
Keep the interview script brief. Ideally, interviews should take less than an hour to complete.
Anticipate varied responses and create follow-up questions based on your research objectives.
Mastering Behavioural Techniques – The Art of Probing
Practising your interview script in the mirror may seem like a silly trope, but it will help raise your level of self-awareness. After all, body language matters. And it goes both ways. An interviewee will know when you’re apprehensive or uncomfortable and you’ll know when they’re withholding. For that reason, it helps that you learn a few behavioural techniques to employ during the interview session. These traits will go a long way in guiding your gestures and your aptitude for observation.
Keep It Candid
If you want your participant to open up and express their true feelings, you should opt for conversation and improvisation over methodically listing your questions.
Activate Empathy and Authenticity
Steer clear of pretence. It’s always better to present a genuine front during interviews and not reflect an insincerity which your interviewee will sense from a distance.
Don’t Rush It
Let participants finish their thoughts without rushing to interrupt them. Sometimes slowing down the pace helps users arrange their thoughts and indicates that you’re listening.
Mind Your Body language
If you can, arrange that you’re facing the research interviewee and engage them openly by leaning in when the participant is talking. Simple gestures like a nod or maintaining eye contact will help the participant realise that you’re interested in what they’re saying, and as a result, will say more.
Are you interested in designing and delivering qualitative data that drives results? Ready to get richer insights that can be used to create campaign-changing test hypotheses? Voyc can help.
Schedule a demo today to find out how!