Gather Actionable Customer Insight Through Live Interviews

actionable customer insightWhether you’re a founder, researcher, product manager or designer, there is always a moment when you ask yourself questions about what to do next, what decision to make or how to do it. You can always use data that you already have, your knowledge and experience, or feedback from your team. The one thing that is often forgotten is customer feedback. Start Putting Customer Feedback to Work. We see it coming through customer complaints and support tickets, but is it enough for making a reliable decision? At ATryBox, we strongly believe that a good way to gather actionable customer insight is through live interviews. Many people would say it’s time-consuming and hard, and it is. But it’s invaluable, too. Whether you do it onsite or on the phone, listening, asking questions and observing customers’ reactions is extremely critical: is your customer in doubt? Is your customer confused? Is he or she excited or bored when you talk?

Here are a few tips on how to get actionable customer insight through live interviews:


First, split your customers into two groups: existing customers and potential customers. Many of your existing customers will be relatively happy and will tell you a few things you could do better. What’s more critical is to listen to people who you consider your target customers, but they are not your customers just yet.

Why aren’t they? Is the product lacking something? Is it awareness problem? Is the messaging not accurate? Can people afford it? You may find out many things besides what you already know and gain actionable customer insight, which will help you to build a better product.

Consider grouping inside these groups. What are your “personas” and how could they differ one from another—age, income, interests, family status?

Assumptions and Questions

It’s really easy to get lost in all the kinds of customer feedback you will be getting. Assumptions will help you to structure your conversations and make sure you’re getting data that is you act on. What to assume? Assume a problem that the person may have, assume how they would be looking to solve it and what the solution may look like. Assume why they might select or not select your company for it and how they would run research to make that decision. Then assume how they would use your product—how often, how long and when exactly.

Putting together a list of assumptions will give you a basis on what you’d like to know and will help you to ask the right questions. Word of caution – use assumptions only to steer the conversation. Allow those assumptions to be changed and proven wrong so that you find out the real answers and get to the actionable customer insight you were looking for.

Here are 20 Not-so-Obvious Questions to Ask Your Customer on Your Survey. Use it as a good starting point.

Scheduling Live Customer interviews

Now, when you’ve prepared your groups of customers and assumptions, it’s time to schedule your live interviews. Live interviews can happen both in person or on the phone, depending on how much time and budget you have available. If your product is a software or an app, phone interviews are almost as good as in person interviews. Using screen-sharing tools will give very similar results to personal meetings.

With physical products or services, phone interviews work only if you’re validating a concept or talking to an existing customer. Reach out to your existing customers and ask for twenty to thirty minutes of their time to talk with them. If you’re not getting any response, add an incentive, e.g. a $50 gift card.

Here’s a template you can use to invite your existing customers to live interviews:

Hi <customer name>,

 My name is <name> and I’m responsible for creating <product name> at <company name>.

I’m currently designing our next version of the <product name> and feedback from our customers helps us to drive it in the right direction. So I wanted to reach out to you and check if you’d be open to a quick phone call/meeting in our Downtown Office?

 Optional: I’m sure you’re very busy, so as a Thank You for your time, I’d like to offer you a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

 Thank You,




 A few important notes about the email structure:

  • Use the customer’s name
  • Make it short and sweet
  • Make it clear what your role is, including your job title
  • Include the company address in the signature if you’re inviting the customer to a personal meeting

This approach will help you to schedule interviews with your existing customers. But… How do you get actionable customer insight through live interviews if they are not yet an existing customer?

Services like ATryBox will help you to source people who fit your target profile and are ready to participate in remote and personal studies. The payments range from $40 for a phone call and more for people to come to your office. You can also search for participants in forums, communities, and Craigslist.

Getting Actionable Customer Insight

Preparation is time-consuming, but the better you prepare, the better the data you’re going to get. Meet with customers at the scheduled time, and don’t forget your list of assumptions and questions—just go through the list. The great thing about live customer interviews is the fact that you can observe live reactions and ask follow-up questions. Doing this will not only help you validate what you do but can also open your eyes to new ideas.

During the interviews, make notes and adjust your questions for the next interviews. Make notes of the irrelevant things too and observe if they come up again in the next sessions.