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Customer interviews


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Interviewing customers is a key tool for validating hypotheses in the creation of a new business. 

Here are some tips on how to do this effectively

  1. Selecting the right clients (+): it is important to choose those customers who best represent the segment you want to validate. For example, if you are seeking to validate a hypothesis for a youth-oriented product, it is best to interview people in that age range.
  2. Prepare clear and concise questions: Questions should be direct and specific in order to obtain concrete answers. It is important to avoid overly broad or vague questions that do not allow for a useful answer.
  3. Listen carefully (+): Actively listening to what clients say is essential to understanding their needs and expectations. It is important for the interviewer to pay attention not only to the answers given by the client, but also to their body language and emotions.
  4. Note-taking: It is important to take detailed notes of what clients say during the interview. This will allow you to analyse the information obtained more effectively and make data-driven decisions.
  5. Thank and build customer loyalty: thanking the customer for their time and cooperation is a good practice. It can also be an opportunity to build customer loyalty by offering special promotions or discounts on future purchases.

In summary, interviewing customers is a key tool for validating hypotheses in the creation of a new business. It is important to select the right customers, prepare clear and concise questions, listen carefully, take notes and thank the customer for their cooperation. Interviewing your customers is a fundamental part of setting up your business. You have to go out and talk to who you think could be your customer from the very beginning of your idea. Al talk to your client, you are already starting, to carry out the study of your marketand generating validated knowledge. Ss part of these studies and This TIP aims to give you key tips on how to do them.

Customer interviews are necessary actions at various points in the entrepreneurial process. One such moment occurs, for example, in step 1 of the process of Design Thinking (+). It's time to empathise with the customer!!! Further on, it is necessary to carry out market tests and, if the methodology is applied lean startup (+), in order to be able to validate the hypotheses (+) that we generate and thus build a successful business model. It is a essential tool you need to know, master and apply correctly. You must be very clear about what information you want to obtain, how we are going to ask questions and who we are going to ask.

Methodologies in customer interviews or market research are complex but could be classified into two broad categories: 


Quantitative studies are carried out with the aim of ensuring that the information obtained be representative of what happens in a market: states of opinion, behaviours, purchase intentions, habits, audiences, etc. The following are therefore carried out significant number of interviews on a sample of the market which by statistical inference is considered to represent the universe to be analysed.


Normally, they are used, as previous experience in designing a quantitative study. It is about carefully analyse the approach and structure of a subsequent quantitative study. When resources for a quantitative study are lacking, qualitative studies are the only primary sources of information available to companies. 

General considerations on qualitative interviews:

The interviews are advisable to carry them out face to face. The aim is to deepening customer responses and obtain quality responses, rather than assessing the number of interviews conducted. Depending on the circumstances it may be agreed that the interviews are individual. These are the so-called in-depth interviews. But, on other occasions, we are interested in establishing a group dynamics that allow extract new ideas or concepts. We refer to the so-called group dynamics. A meeting of brainstorming (+) is one example.

The people selected for customer interviews must have a profile that matches the buyer persona or potential market we have identified. It would be a mistake to obtain information from people who are not motivated or do not match the target segment.


  • The questions must be clear and concise. No ambiguity.
  • The questions should be formulated in open form to give the field to the interviewee.
  • How many fewer questions are better.
  • Questions should be ordered y uses the 5 Why? technique (+) to deepen the answers. 
  • Define information points. 
    • What information do you need to know about your customers? Go deeper on that.
  • Always leave a free and voluntary field to expand the response.
  • Look at verbal and non-verbal language. 
  • Record the interview or write down everything you learn once it is over. 
  • Write down the conclusions in the heat of the moment, as soon as the interview is over.
  • It is better if there are two of you at the interview to better capture what the client wants to say.


If you decide to go out on the street, to ask questions or opt for an online survey, your concern should be twofold: quality of the questionnaire to be used and quality of the sample.

  • Here does matter the number of responses obtaineds and the number of people with whom we are able to interact.
  • To carry out online questionnaires, we can use the Google Forms100% is customisable with our company design, free of charge and generates graphs with the data of each question.

Who do I do these interviews with? 

Ideally, we would like to have a database that is within your customer segment, or failing that run a small, targeted advertising campaign that allows you to reach target audience. He thinks that the realisation of mass surveys will involve a process of data collection, statistical exploitation and analysis of results. In addition, the definition of the sample, requires statistical expertise, It would, therefore, be advisable for you to help people with experience in market research. 

Try to use closed questions (default answers: yes or no, true or false, linking answers or ordering answers) more than open because this will will make tabulation much easier (data dump). The open questions at quantitative research must be very justified, However, in the qualitative research if they can provide a lot of validated knowledge.


In the early stages of a new venture and without a tangible product or service to show, we usually do not have access to a sufficiently large sample of customers, so we cannot quantitatively validate the hypotheses on which our business model is based. If we have done our homework we will have already identified one or more hypotheses about who the customer is, what problems they have and what they need....  With this background, we are in a position to make use of an interesting quantitative technique: the client-problem-solution interview. 


The aim of this interview It is NOT validating hypotheses (it's too early), but rather to learn and rule out hypotheses... That is to say, If a sufficient number of customers tell us that they do not want to buy our product online, we may need to rethink this point.


The most interesting thing about this approach vs. the survey is that it helps us discover what we do NOT know yet, which is a lot. For its part, the survey only serves to confirm or rule out what we do know.


It is a interview that we should conduct with customers identified as early adopters (+) in our business model and that we will have reflected in the Lean Canvas (+).


It should not take more than 30 minutes! It could be even less but never more. Ideally, it should last as long as it takes to drink a cup of coffee.


We should survey as many clients as we need to learn. That is, it is not a question of saying "I have to do 20 surveys". The sufficiency indicator is until we talk to a client from whom we learn hardly anything new.


This is an interview where we want to learn, so the client should do most of the talking (80%). You should use open questions for more informationIf there is anything you don't fully understand, don't hesitate to ask again.



A very brief description of why the interview was conducted, and above all, stressing that we do NOT want to sell anything.


At this point we want to learn more about the person and validate whether they meet the "early adopter" profile we had defined.


"What position do you hold in your company?", "How long have you been incorporated?" or "How many people are in the team?".


This is one of the most important parts!!!. It is about establish the context of the interview, In other words, the "bullring" where you are going to fight, the limits. A short story is usually created by someone with a profile similar to the "early adopter" and which describes the problem we think we have identified... without giving clues as to how we are going to solve it that would condition the interviewee.

Using the example as an example, something like: "John is the founder of a company. He has been looking for a lawyer to advise him on his start-up for some time but none of them seem to really understand what he is talking about, and Juan is reluctant to hire them for fear of investing money in someone who is not going to help him".


At this point, and once the context has been established, we will ask the interviewee to rank the main problems we have identified from highest to lowest... 


This is the real thing core of the interviewand where we should spend as much time as possible. The objective is ask the client one by one about each of the above problems, how he/she understands them, how important they are... and, above all, what he/she is doing right now to solve them. 

This point is critic This will help us to assess the relative importance of the problems (even if a client says that something is very important, if they are not doing something to solve it, it must not be so important...) and to understand how they are currently solving these problems (which will give us a context of the price they are willing to pay, the time they invest... etc.). And, once we have understood perfectly, the problems we have identified, we should give them space to tell us about new problems we do not know about by asking them questions:

"And what other problems related to XXXX are there that we have not identified?


If we are reasonably clear about how we plan to solve the problems it is usually a good idea at this point (never before!) tell the customer how we plan to solve them (i.e. our product or service) and ask them how they see it... something that will also give us a lot of good information.


Finally, we should close the interview by thanking them for their time and collaboration, and above all, by asking them if they know more people with a similar profile to theirs that would be important to interview... which is a great way to meet new "early adopters". Also it is a good idea to ask if they would be interested in being contacted once we launch the product or service... this gives us an initial list of interested customers, which is extremely valuable.


This is very important, document all aspects of the interview as soon as it is finishedbecause, we will still have fresh results. The key is that we try to reflect all aspects, both verbal and non-verbal, that we have detected. (where the interviewee looks puzzled, where the eyes sparkle... etc.). When we have had enough interviews, a clear pattern will emerge in the form of recurring doubts, common problems and above all, what the client is concerned about and what he/she is not... what he/she is and is not concerned about... what he/she is not. will help us to take one path or another.

The key is only making decisions in the face of homogeneous problems, i.e, that are displayed on all or almost all clients. It is also possible that we may detect early on that the type of client we are interviewing is not the right one: in that case it is advisable to start "throwing into the mix" other types of clients that could potentially be of interest to us. The client-problem-solution interview technique is in my experience one of the best (if not the best) tool for working with hypotheses in the initial phases of the new business model, and above all, to rule out non-viable approaches... which brings us to the cornerstone of this way of working.



Now that you have read the TIP, in the following reflection exercise we are going to ask you to relate the phrasing of the sentences to the appropriate stage of the client interview:

Thank you very much for your time. Do you know anyone who could give us their views at another meeting? 
I don't want to sell you anything. But your opinion is very important. 
What does Doña María do when she is shopping in different shops and the weight and volume of her packages and bags is increasing? 
We offer an electric trolley rental service that allows you to carry your shopping around all the shops, and finally bring it back to your car without any effort. 
Do you usually go shopping in shopping centres or shopping streets? 
Could you rank these problems from most to least important?
  • Weight and volume of purchases.
  • Distance between shops.
  • Security issues.
  • Take several trips to the car.





Picture of Fernando Weyler

Fernando Weyler

Todos los Comentarios

  1. José Luis Prieto Calviño

    Information for knowledge and objectifying decisions beyond subjective intuitions

  2. Paul Lejarza

    Interesting as a reminder of the classic methodology for conducting the necessary market research.

  3. Humberto Morales Rocha

    This is the moment of truth to identify, validate and contrast, if the hypothetical problem to be solved by the entrepreneur does exist, as well as to validate in a preliminary way what is the reaction of the potential future clients to the proposal made by the entrepreneur to solve the mentioned problem...

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