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User Interview Essentials: 5 Tips for Conducting Effective Conversations

Guv Callahan

Aug 12, 2020

User Interview essentials 5 tips for conducting effective conversations

RevBlogMarketingUser Interview Essentials: 5 Tips for Conducting Effective Conversations

Conducting user interviews is an excellent way to learn how to improve the customer experience with your product or service. User interviews are different from user testing or conducting a usability test on your product. The interview process lets you hear what customers have to say about their experience with your product or service. It is common for the UX researcher and UX designer to be surprised at the results that come from customer interviews. Customers may use your service or product differently than you planned or expected. That type of information is valuable because it can help you make changes that improve the user experience.  

Gathering information about user experience from customers through interviews is a research method that can provide you with qualitative data. This type of data can give you insights into customer behavior. Qualitative data also gives you a good chance of understanding your customers on a deeper level. When gathering qualitative data, the interview process involves asking open-ended questions. In order to get the best results, the interviewer should also avoid leading questions. Using quality interview questions will reveal how customers interact with your product and call attention to the pain points they experience.

Interview essentials for conducting stellar conversations

Conducting user interviews can provide valuable insights, but they require time from you and your customers. To make the most of that time, take steps to ensure that you’re conducting stellar conversations during each interview.

  • Get clear on what you hope to learn about the user experience.
  • Design a high-quality set of interview questions.
  • Leave room for follow-up questions during the interview process.
  • Let the interviewee talk.
  • Transcribe the interview to discover patterns and evaluate data.

Get clear on what you hope to learn about the user experience

The first step in conducting stellar user interviews is getting clear on what you hope to learn about the user experience. This step is similar to what you did when you initially created the product or service. In the beginning, you developed a buyer persona based on your imagined ideal customer. You asked yourself questions about the wants, needs, and preferences of that avatar. Then, you designed your product with that ideal customer in mind. Now, you have real customers, and you can ask about their real-life experience with your product.    

Getting clear on what you hope to learn helps you make the most of your time during the interviews. A clear goal during the interviews will help you stay focused on getting the information you need. There is some information about the user experience that you can only get through this type of qualitative research. This is the information you cannot get using another research method such as user testing.

Design a high-quality set of interview questions

You can design high-quality interview questions once you’re clear about what you want to learn during the user interviews. Going into the interviews with a list of questions is a way to ensure that you get the information you need. Common interview questions are often closed-ended and leading. It is important that you avoid leading questions and keep questions open-ended to get the best insights. Leading and closed-ended questions limit the responses that customers can provide while open-ended questions allow more flexibility.

Leave room for follow-up questions during the interview process

There is value in having a clear goal for your user interviews as well as a list of questions. However, trying to schedule out every second of the interviews can limit the insights you gain from customers. As customers talk about pain points during one-on-one or focus group interviews, you may think of follow-up questions. There is a good chance that some of your most valuable information will come from follow-up questions during interviews. Leave time in your interview plan to account for follow-up questions.

Let the interviewee talk

The whole purpose of user interviews is to hear what customers have to say. You want to learn about their pain points and their experience with your product or service. Many modern consumers will devote time to researching the company before they ever spend a dime on your product. Such savvy and thoughtful customers can provide you with valuable insights during the interview. 

Unfortunately, it can be uncomfortable to be quiet long enough for the interviewee to start talking. One simple way to avoid moving on from a topic too quickly is to restate each answer the customer provides. Let’s say you have a service-based software that connects people looking for work to companies that are hiring.

Interviewer: What element of the software did you find the most useful?

Interviewee: My favorite part of the software was the fact that it helped me get in touch with the right people.

Interviewer: Ok, so you liked the feature of the software that allowed you to connect with the right people.

Interviewee: Yes! With similar services I have used in the past, it felt like my resumé and application were getting lost in the shuffle. When I used your software, it seemed like my information got in front of the hiring manager right away. I received responses from decision-makers much faster with your service. Even when I didn’t get an interview it was still better than not knowing if I was a good fit.

In the above example, the interviewee provides a lot more information after the interviewer repeats back the answer. This technique will help you slow down and let the interviewee say everything that he or she wants to say.

Transcribe the interview to discover patterns and evaluate data

The final element of conducting stellar interviews is to use the information to gain insight into the user experience. Otherwise, what’s the point of spending your time on user interviews? There are two ways that you can discover patterns and evaluate data from the interviews: listen or read a transcription. Of the two options, reading a transcription makes it easier to scan, analyze, and identify important elements in the conversation.

You can transcribe the interviews yourself but prepare to devote an average of four hours for every hour of audio. The other option is to hire a transcription service like Rev to transcribe the interviews for you. With our services, you can have a professional transcript on your computer screen in as little as 12 hours. Once you have the interviews transcribed, you can look for patterns like commonly used words or phrases. This will help you identify pain points that need to be fixed as well as elements that are working.   

Well planned conversations provide the deepest insights

High-quality user interviews will provide you with important insights into the pain points and behavior of your customers. This information will help you know where to make changes in your business and what to keep the same. The data from user interviews will ultimately help you create a better customer experience.

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