We think the best advice we can give to anyone who is new to conducting customer experience interviews is to undertake some study or training beforehand, to plan well to avoid bias and to make sure to properly record the information you collect in a way that you can use it.
There are many great books which will improve your interviewing skills so we have kept our list of tips fairly short and focused on interviewing customers about their experiences in physical environments:
Our Tips for Great Customer Experience Interviews in ‘Real’ Service Environments
- Visit the environment beforehand and experience service for yourself before you develop your questions.
- Include questions about both what is important to customers and how the organisation performs.
- Use numerical rating scales as they are easier to understand and use for both customer and the interviewer.
- Customers will find it easier if you ask factual behavioural questions first and then follow with attitudinal questions that they will have to think about.
- Leave classification questions for segmentation until the end as some customers may find these sensitive.
- Experiment with different questioning techniques such as ‘creative comparisons’ to add different dimensions to your insight and make the interview more interesting.
- Prepare the long interview questionnaire first then use this as the basis of your intercept survey by removing longer qualitative questions.
- Print paper proformas and bring pens and clipboard. Use digital tablets or laptops if you prefer however we find they make interviewing impersonal.
- Use a quiet and comfortable space such as an office or meeting room if available.
- It’s fine and sometimes better to interview couples or small groups together – use your judgement.
- Use a team member as a note taker if you can.
- Film or record the interview if possible but only with the customer’s permission.
- Get the customers details if you can – name, phone number, email. It will make your reporting ‘real’ and cover any possible auditing of your work
- Be human, build rapport first, be curious, be empathetic and be yourself.
- Tactfully challenge when you think an answer is wrong or untrue
- Be respectful of your customer’s time – start and finish when you say you will.
- Thank the customer and inform them how their input will be used and if and how they will be contacted again.
- Use payments or incentives if necessary but be mindful then can introduce bias.