Customer interviews are responsible for guiding today’s best products. It is much easier to build an execution plan based on customer insights rather than guesses of what the customer needs and will pay for. Here are 13 important questions.
The main responsibility of startup founders is to figure out what their potential app users are willing to pay for and use. Building a product inspired by a personal experience and online research without the continuous involvement of the customer is a common approach for creating products that either solve the wrong problem or introduce a solution people aren’t interested in using.
Customer interviews are essential for many reasons. First of all, it is an opportunity to connect with your ideal buyers on a personal level. If you’re ever looking to build a team of ambassadors or presell the product to a group of people, customer interviews are a great opportunity to build trust and accomplish those goals. Second, building a personal relationship with your potential buyers minimizes conversion friction later when the product is ready to go to market. People are more likely to work with those they know and trust.
Most importantly, customer interviews are responsible for guiding today’s best products. Even a company like Amazon with all the data it has gathered about its customer behavior over the years, it still includes customers in key company meetings. It is much easier to build an execution plan based on customer insights rather than guesses of what the customer needs and will pay for.
Customer interview questions depend on variables like the target group, competition and startup stage. In the early stages of a startup especially, the golden interview rule is to ask open ended questions to give respondents the freedom to express their challenges and needs. It is the job of the entrepreneur to read between the lines in order to find consistency in interviewees’ answers about a common pain they need a solution for.
Here are thirteen important customer interview questions to ask before building an app as they will help you build a product your target group is more likely to use. In addition to those questions and instead of a few, include questions that are more relevant to your app idea to help you get the answers you need.
- Use the first question to validate or invalidate your hypothesized target group. You may ask, tell me a little about yourself and background? Ask follow up questions as needed. The next series of questions are meant to identify and qualitatively validate the problem.
- What do you like about [area your startup is focused on]?
- What’s your biggest goal with [area your startup is focused on]? For example, Uber might ask its users, what’s your biggest objective from using a ride sharing service?
- What are the biggest challenges with [area your startup is focused on]?
- Which one of those challenges cost you the most time and money? and/or, which one of them obstruct your ability to accomplish your biggest goal?
- How are you currently solving this problem?
- How much time and money have you spent solving or trying to solve this problem?
- Have you stopped looking for a better solution? If Yes, when did you settle with the best available solution?
- What’s good about [alternative solutions]?
- What do you wish they had or did better?
- If you built your own perfect solution, what’s the most important functionality you’d have?
- To summarize, the problem is [define it] and it’s causing [pain point]. An ideal solution will allow you to [benefits] unlike alternative products which do a good job at [solving X] but not in [solving Y]. The ideal solution will allow you to [job-to-be done]. Am I missing anything?
- I have been working on a product I’d love to share with you in the next few weeks. Can I follow up with updates soon?
The questions are presented in an order that aims to uncover insights about buyers’ profile, pain point and expected solution (app functionality). While just a dozen interviews can reveal the needed insights about each one of those three key areas of a startup, the goal from the interviews is to also build a pool of potential customers. As such, entrepreneurs are encouraged to interview and build a relationship with as many people as they can. In fact, customer development continues to be founders’ main responsibility throughout the startup journey.