Appreciative Inquiry offers a solid approach for early customer interviews.Ask, “What’s working and what problems do you have?”
Early Customer Conversations: Use Appreciative Inquiry, Amplify Positive Deviance
Q: Do you have a script for a customer interview? What should I focus on? How much of the interview for a web based offering can be replaced by a thorough evaluation of traffic and usage analytics?
- “What’s working around here?”
- “What problems are you having?”
You need to focus on their pain and problems but build on their strengths. While there is a whole methodology/discipline you can follow at the Appreciative Inquiry Commons with “What is Appreciative Inquiry” a good place to start, I found the “Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry” to be $8 and two hours well spent. It’s only 63 pages long but I found myself stopping several times and realizing I needed to change what I had been doing.
The “Amplify Positive Deviance” model developed by Jerry Sternin is another useful one to determine what the real status quo is for a category of prospect. Here are two good sources of information
- The “Positive Deviant” article by Ed Dorsey in the November 2000 Fast Company has a clear codification.
I have transcribed the 7 steps in the “Positive Deviant” article and added a customer development interpretation for some of them in parentheses.
- Don’t assume you have the answer (treat your approach as a hypothesis to be validated, updated, or refuted)
- Interview folks in settings where they are most likely to be forthcoming
- Encourage small steps using a new approach/tool/technology (get simple product in customers hands)
- Identify current status quo
- …and how positive deviants depart from it (different between early adopters and pragmatic/late majority)
- let deviants get others to adopt new tools / techniques (customers / word of mouth is most effective sales technique)
- Track results, keep score (add clear ROI to anecdotes from early adopters)
Sorry if this is too theoretical, but I think it’s more about a mindset or frame of reference you bring to the conversation than a particular script or set of questions.
- SKMurphy Newsletter Archive
- Customer Development is a Sequence of Prototypes
- The Limits of Customer Relationship Management Systems
- How to Ask An Expert for Help
- The Best Feedback From Your Early Customers is a Story
- The Best Way to Get Feedback From Early Customers is a Conversation
- 5 Ways To Start Customer Discovery Interviews
- Customer Interviews: Allow Yourself to Be Surprised
- How To Organize Findings