Now you understand the importance of interviewing your customers to get valuable insights about your idea or product.
But who should you interview, and how can you find them?
Start by identifying your target customers.
If you don’t have a product yet, you may not know who your target customer is. But you should have some potential ideas already.
Start by writing down at least three groups of people who have the problem in question. (If you can’t think of anyone with the problem, it’s time to come up with a new product idea.)
Use the following table to choose the best target for your interviews:
Rate each group from 1 to 10 in each of the three categories.
Size refers to the number of people in the group. Is it big or small? A bigger group gets a higher rating.
Pain:Payment is the ratio of pain to payment. How much pain do they feel about the problem? Is it a crucial issue or just an annoyance? Compare that to how much they are likely to pay for the service.
High pain and high payment gets a high rating. Low pain and low payment gets a low rating. High pain and low payment (or the reverse) would get an average rating.
Accessibility refers to how easily you can access these people. Can you find their email addresses? Are they likely to respond to an email? Better accessibility gets a higher rating.
After you’ve rated them in each category, add the scores together to find the total for each group. The group with the highest rating is the one you should target for interviews.
If you already have a product, it’s much easier for you to find target customers. You already have a customer base. People are already paying for and engaging with your product.
Think of the current problems of your product or the new features you’d like to implement. Which customers would benefit the most? That’s who you should interview.
If you don’t have a product yet, you’ll need to look outside of your company to find interviewees. You should have already identified your target group with the exercise above. If not, complete that first.
You can easily find target customers in places like:
- LinkedIn: You can search by background and skills to find your exact target customer. Search for people using relevant keywords, then filter results to find people in your area, for example. Once you’ve found them, you can send them InMail (which costs money) or request to connect with them (this allows you to send them a free message).
- Online Forums: Almost every group has a forum or community online where people gather to discuss ideas and problems together. This is a perfect place to find people who fit your target customer profile. You can find many communities on Reddit and Quora.
- Twitter: Twitter is another easy place to find target customers. Search Tweets by keywords to find related users, then contact them with a Tweet or DM.
- Your competitors’ sites and products: Your competitors with established products will have their own blogs, forums, and social media profiles filled with user feedback in the form of comments, Tweets, and questions. You may be able to find people who fit your target customer profile and seem to have the problem you’re trying to solve. These are prime candidates for customer interviews.
If you already have a product and customers, it will be much easier to find interviewees. But don’t blast an email out to your entire mailing list. Anything that looks like spam will be deleted without hesitation.
Even if you have a long list of customers, you’ll want to choose the right customers to target. The customers you want to interview are those who are enthusiastic or opinionated about the product (in a good or bad way). These people will have the most valuable feedback for you.
Here are four sources of people who are likely to respond:
- Live chat: Many companies implement a live chat feature on their websites that allow customers to speak with real employees about their questions or problems. One option is to look at chat logs to find good candidates, then send them a message that looks like a continuation of their earlier conversation. Another option is to actively start a conversation, either by directly messaging a user while they browse the site or having your coworker end a chat with a request for a quick interview.
- Your blog: Look at comments to find users who have opinions about your product. Commenters write because they want to be heard, so it’s likely that they’ll be interested in an interview.
- Power users: Your company should already have information on its users. Look at user activity to find the “power users”—people who display high engagement. They’re already invested in your product, and would probably be interested in making it better.
- Twitter: Find your current customers on Twitter. Most fans of a product will be happy that the company noticed their Tweets.