The Researchers’ Guide to Remotely Conducting Customer Discovery Interviews
Updated: Jul 10
Invoke the “get out of the building” approach whilst conducting authentic customer interviews from the comfort of your own work-space.
In the beginning there was the Focus Group. A ground-breaking qualitative method of observing sample participants in their element. During the height of the ‘50s advertising boom, focus groups were vital market research tools carried out in nearly every large agency who embraced innovation to strategically position themselves above their competitors. Not much has changed, has it?
In actuality, change prevails as the only constant where market research is implicated. Markets have changed, consumers have changed, and technological expansion both impacts and reflects the dynamism of the current commercial ecosystem. Following this stream of progression, it’s no surprise that the methods for conducting qualitative customer research has changed too.
Customer Feedback VS Intuition
The conceptual endurance of customer feedback is worth acknowledging. Perhaps the very first commercial trade in history was concluded with “let me know if you were happy with your purchase”, we’ll never really know. In today’s competitive market, however, companies employ all methods of customer engagement in an attempt to etch out a sustainable space for themselves.
It’s like the intrepid Silicon Valley entrepreneur–Steve Blank–says, “Teams that build continuous customer discovery into their DNA will become smarter than their investors, and build more successful companies.”
Whether it’s a start-up with a concept to validate, or a large organisation attempting to continue their legacy in times of change; regularly interfacing with customers to generate real insights over the intuition of experts’ offers more value and market credibility than innovation for innovation’s sake. And times are changing fast–consumers no longer cling to brand loyalty as a top-tier purchasing influencer, they’ll jump ship for better quality and modest prices. It’s therefore time to tailor research and development efforts accordingly.
Customer Research in the Information Age
While focus groups remain a formidable market research tool, the critiques weighted against this method (group-think and social desirability bias) often stalled its ascension. Of course, qualitative research is commonly considered imperfect and requires the right combination of empathy, accuracy and observation, but proponents of the new school entrepreneurship methodologies (think Agile development, Design Thinking and the Lean start-up) saw a need for a more in-depth and conversational technique that would yield authentic consumer insights. This ultimately gave rise to the Customer Discovery Interview.
Inaugurated as a costly, time and labour consuming assignment, 1-to-1 customer interviews have been invariably altered by innovations in telecommunication and the proliferation of the Internet in our daily work and personal lives.
The Remote Interview – A researcher’s resolve to limitations of time and space
If you’re conducting customer interviews for qualitative insights, you know that a major limitation facing this form of research is time. In-person interviews are time-consuming and they demand that you be in the same region as your participant. It just isn’t feasible to organise numerous interviews when you have deadlines for data collection and analysis. Of course, the more interviews you do, the more data you collect, the more in-depth insights you can engender. And if your customer discovery process is iterative and continuous, as it should be, then opting for innovative methods to control the interview and analysis process is logical in the long run.
With a range of video and voice conferencing tools and applications at your disposal, it’s easier and faster to setup interviews and talk to people in the comfort of their own homes. By setting up remote interviews with your customers, you have the opportunity to speak to a wider audience and rack up an in-depth understanding of customers that you wouldn’t normally have the capacity to engage with.If you’re worried about staying organised while you conduct and arrange your customer interviews, meeting schedulers like Doodle and Calendly will help.
In-person research does present an array of benefits but they aren’t always practical. Remote interviews are a flexible method of collecting insights and more importantly, they are accessible to both researchers and participants.
Things to Consider When Conducting Customer Interviews Remotely
It’s important to adapt your approach if you’re more accustomed to in-person interviews. This will help with authenticity and interview flow so that you’re able to make the most out of them.
Phone or web-based video? Remember to select the interview method based on your research needs and your participant’s ability to access these tools.
Record the session - Video or audio recording an interview is a good way to collect all important information for later analysis and sharing with relevant teams. Recording should only be done with the consent from the interviewee.
Even though these interviews are done remotely, location is still important. The participants comfort is primary, but loud and busy spaces can take away from the research observations so opt for a quiet space with a stable internet connection.
Now that that’s out of the way, you may want to start working on your interview techniques.
Remember, you don’t have to talk to all your customers all of the time, but reaching out to a number of them routinely and making it part of your everyday operational objectives ensures that you’re always tapped into the needs and wants of your market.
So yes, Customer Discovery is all about getting out of the building, but thanks to all the technology at your disposal, you don’t have to venture far and wide to engage with your customers and secure deep knowledge that will impact your value proposition.
Get on board with Voyc and see how our End-to-end Research platform will meet your customer insight needs.