How to Run a Large-Scale Customer Interview Project
Customer interviews are powerful tools that help you uncover areas where you can improve and issues that hinder growth. They help you understand your customers better and what they expect from you.
But carrying out customer interviews can be a challenge, particularly for large-scale companies like Starbucks, IKEA, and McDonald’s. Larger companies have more to consider—multiple customer segments, language barriers, different time zones. You need a way for customers to share their thoughts while catering to their diverse needs. And if you don’t do it, you miss out on loads of potentially important data.
Here we’ll walk you through the task of planning and executing international customer interviews for market research.
1. Identify the problem you want to solve
Before you begin customer interviews, you should have a problem you’re looking to solve or a question you’re looking to answer. Solving a problem helps you identify the barriers that are preventing you from reaching your goals. Running interviews in the name of “business learning” with no clear directive is a poor use of time, money, and resources.
If you’re a retailer, you might want to figure out why customers are churning more frequently. If you’re a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, you might want to understand why product sales have dropped.
To identify the right problems to solve, check your sales data for trends. Review month-to-month growth, annual growth, sales channels, and more.
List all of the problems you find and prioritize them in order—from “need to fix now” to “nice to have.” You can run multiple customer interviews simultaneously that target different segments (countries, buyer personas, etc.). Design your interviews so that they’re relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re solving churn, you should only interview customers in affected countries.
Work with a roadmap to manage your customer interview schedule. You’ll find this helps you plan your budget, resources, and time.
2. Find participants to interview
As a global company, you have no shortage of customers to reach out to. However, segment your audience. Be specific about who you invite so that the data is representative of your target audience. Consider the problem you’re trying to solve and choose those from markets affected by it or from the demographics the problem affects. If product sales have dropped in Europe, interviewing American customers won’t tell you how to solve your issue.
Next, identify what types of customers you want to interview and invite them to participate. Use channels where they spend the most time and that are specific to a location. For example, if you want to interview millennial customers who’ve purchased a specific product, use social media. Use Facebook and Instagram in North America, WeChat in Asia, and WhatsApp in South America and Europe.
Clearly state the qualifications participants must have and screen respondents. Make sure respondents are a good fit before moving forward.
Finally, use mobile messaging to quickly connect with specific customers. These are people who’ve been around for a while, have commented on the problem, or are generally highly engaged. They might not see your invite on other channels, so a direct message gets their attention. These customers likely have a goldmine of insights to share. Plus, given the fact that 90% of text messages are opened within three minutes, your invite will likely be seen. Short Message Service (SMS) improves your chances of attracting the right kinds of participants.
3. Conduct customer interviews
You’ve found interview participants, and now it’s time to talk to them. Prepare and review your questions ahead of time, test the tools you’ll use, and record each session. Use an app like Calendly to let participants book an interview in their time zone. Then use SMS messages to remind them that their session is coming up.
Customer interviews should always be recorded. While that sounds convenient in theory, that leaves you with a whole lot of video to rewatch and can be, if it’s in another language, unintelligible. A simple way to manage all of that video is to have it transcribed into the more easily accessible and searchable written word (and in your own language) with a tool like Rev. When you do that, you’ll have a lot of customer-driven data at your fingertips to help you improve your business.
Transcripts can also be shared among team members to review.
Add in timestamps for an extra $0.25 per audio minute. Timestamps make it easier to find participants’ comments. Rev’s transcription editor makes it easy for you to search for and find specific speakers. Team members can even add comments throughout the transcript that mention non-verbal cues they saw during interviews.
Also, add subtitles to the visual recordings so that international team members understand the recordings. Subtitles remove the language barrier and help you collaborate more effectively. Choose from 15 different languages.
A transcription tool ensures your interview notes are thorough and easy to review and analyze.
4. Analyze the data
Analysis is the point where all your hard work pays off. Your data will show you how customers feel about your products and their experience.
While it might make sense to pursue some opportunities that you have in mind, analysis will show that they’re not what customers expect or need. You’ll end up in a situation where the identified problem still exists without a clear solution. A strategic approach to analysis makes sure you identify the right opportunities and don’t get overwhelmed with data or miss important insights.
Group the data from each customer segment and then group the responses to each question. Grouping helps you sort through the data and tackle it strategically. Also, collating data in transcripts makes it searchable.
Data is subjective and open to interpretation. Qualitative data is valuable because it helps you understand why customers feel the way they do. For example, if product sales have dropped, qualitative analysis might show customers aren’t satisfied with the quality.
Qualitative data comes from the comments participants make. Search transcripts for words you’ve identified that customers use to describe their experience. Analyze comments that precede and follow these words to get the context.
The non-verbal cues that the team observed and commented on in the transcript come in handy here. You don’t have to watch or listen to every interview to understand how customers feel.
Data is statistical and measurable. Your report will include numerical values to explain your findings. “X% of participants feel that product quality has dropped.”
Use quantitative data to identify trends in the data, in different markets. For example, “sales from Month 1 to Month 5 of product X dropped by Y% in North America and Z% in Europe because of quality concerns.”
Also, use quantitative data to visualize your findings (in graphs and tables) to simplify comparisons across markets. Take advantage of your transcript by finding participant comments to add to the final report. With this approach, you’ll be able to give the data more context and tie your findings back to the interviews.
Evolve based on customer interviews
Customer interviews are your chance to find new ways to improve your business. They give you a front-row seat into the minds of your customers. Talk to the customers and let them guide the decisions you make.
With the right set of tools, like Rev for transcription and subtitles, you make it easier to connect with your global audience. Removing barriers opens up the potential for customers to share their thoughts and feelings to improve your business. The more customer interviews you run, the better. Over time, you’ll see growth because customers stick around longer and buy more.