Talk to the People: Customer Interviews for Content Strategists

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I gave this talk at Confab London in March 2013, and again at the New York City Content Strategy Meetup in April 2013. …

I gave this talk at Confab London in March 2013, and again at the New York City Content Strategy Meetup in April 2013.

We can pore over detailed web analytics, review demographic charts, and devise colourful personas to guide our work, but until we’ve actually spoken to our customers—preferably face-to-face—we won’t truly understand their needs.

Interviewing customers requires a balance of empathy and objectivity. We need to learn how to ask the right questions, interpret the answers, and consequently create more effective content.

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  • 1. Talk to! the people! Customer interviews for content strategists Kerry-Anne Gilowey | Confab London | 25 March 2013
  • 2. Hi! I’m Elizabeth.! I use your product.! Uh... hi! ! Can anyone hear me?! IS THIS THING ON?!
  • 3. The voice! of the customer.!
  • 4. What information do they need?! ?
  • 5. What’s their context?!
  • 6. 14! How! do! they! see! the! world?!
  • 7. Can’t we just use surveys?!
  • 8. Sure we can.! It was gr8! Question 13: Tell us about your experience with Snuggle Blankies.
  • 9. Non-verbal cues are valuable.!
  • 10. Crouching customer, hidden needs.!
  • 11. Planning and preparation
  • 12. How many interviews?!
  • 13. Go to them.!
  • 14. They may be working under difficult circumstances.!
  • 15. Use props.!
  • 16. Perhaps more like these.!
  • 17. Pace yourself.!
  • 18. Interviewing 101
  • 19. Be warm. Connect.!
  • 20. It’s not a science experiment.!
  • 21. Don’t shy away from humour.!
  • 22. Make small talk.! “The more confident you are at talking to different types of people, the better you’ll be at research interviews and truly listening to what people have to say. If small talk isn’t your strong point, maybe it’s an excuse to go to more parties - for research purposes, of course.” - Cennydd Bowles and James Box (p.29, Undercover User Experience Design)
  • 23. “No, really.! I’m doing research.”!
  • 24. Set expectations.!
  • 25. Listen.!
  • 26. Don’t interrupt.! ... and I mean, I like the blankies and all,! but I just wonder if they couldn’t be a bit bigger. Sometimes I find that my toes stick out at the bottom and -- ! Hot today, isn’t it?!
  • 27. Be aware of your! body language.!
  • 28. Mirror their feelings.!
  • 29. Get comfortable with silence.!
  • 30. Scary things you might encounter
  • 31. 1. The quiet ones.!
  • 32. So hey, how was your day at school?! Fine.!
  • 33. “If I asked you to name ONE thing you didn’t like, what would that be?”!
  • 34. 2. Thorny topics.!
  • 35. Channel your inner doctor.!
  • 36. 3. The unexpected.!
  • 37. 5. Very anxious participants.!
  • 38. Stay calm yourself.!
  • 39. What questions to ask
  • 40. 2+2=?!
  • 41. Tell me about your job.!
  • 42. Married? Children? Pets?!
  • 43. Herpty derp derp?!
  • 44. Not so fast, little buddy.!
  • 45. If XYZ, then what?!
  • 46. Keep asking why.!
  • 47. Sample questions! !  How did you first hear about Snuggle Blankies? !  Did you try any other similar companies, like Blankies R Us or Blankie Hut? !  What are the most important things you need from Snuggle Blankies? !  Have you ever had to call 0800-SNUGGLE? !  What was the worst thing about your experience with Snuggle Blankies? !  What was the best part of your Snuggle Blankies experience? !  Was there anything you found confusing? !  Is there anything else we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
  • 48. What to listen for
  • 49. I want a faster horse, please.!
  • 50. READ!
  • 51. What are their questions?!
  • 52. “OBVIOUSLY...”!
  • 53. Obviously you’re just a small,! hairless cat.!
  • 54. Obviously the ! blankets aren’t big enough for me because I’m very tall and have extra-long toes.!
  • 55. Obviously all blankets are basically the same.!
  • 56. What words do they prefer?! blanket vs blankie warm vs snug mail vs post shipping vs delivery
  • 57. What type of language do they relate to?! I like a really comfy, schnuggly-wuggly blankie.!
  • 58. What type of language do they relate to?! I have a preference for deep pile microfleece bedding material.!
  • 59. What are the stories! they’re telling themselves?! Blankie feels a bit weird.! I’m probably just the wrong shape for blankies. !
  • 60. Who influences them?! Your customer! Mother- in-law! People on Twitter! Best friend! Facebook friends! Newspapers! Colleagues! Spouse!
  • 61. How do they see the structure! of your organisation?!
  • 62. How do they see the structure! of your organisation?!
  • 63. What’s important to them?! Blah blah blah! SOFT blah blah FLUFFY blah blah SOFT blah blah! blah WARM blah blah SOFT blah blah.!
  • 64. How do you fit into! their world?!
  • 65. Using what you’ve heard
  • 66. Look for patterns.!
  • 67. Map their journey.!
  • 68. Choose your channels.! Twitter! Blog! SMS!Facebook! Email! Face to face! Call centre! Snail mail! Print!
  • 69. Compile voice and tone guidelines.!
  • 70. Plan your content.!
  • 71. Answer their questions.! The statement! “I’m a bit worried about ordering a Snuggle Blankie online because I might not like it when it arrives.”! The underlying question! What happens if I don’t like my blankie when it arrives?! The result! Can I return my blankie if I don’t like it?! Yes, absolutely. Just put it in the envelope provided and you can return it to us free of charge. We will refund you, or you can choose another blankie.!
  • 72. Reflect their worldview.!
  • 73. Thank you!! Kerry-Anne Gilowey Independent Content Strategy Consultant @kerry_anne kerryanne@augustsun.co.za Kerry-Anne Gilowey | Confab London | 25 March 2013
  • 74. Photo credits! • Slide 2: CannedTuna - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannedtuna/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 7: The Bees - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebees/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 13: ToGa Wanderings - http://www.flickr.com/photos/togawanderings/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 22: biologycorner- http://www.flickr.com/photos/40964293@N07/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 23: OZinOH - http://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 27: judsond - http://www.flickr.com/photos/judson/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 28: tubes. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/seantubridy/ (Used by permission, alterations made) • Slide 41: Joe Shlabotnik - http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 42: Loren Javier - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenjavier/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 47: Original source could not be determined • Slide 50: alternatePhotography - http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidrn/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 55: Horia Varlan - http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/ (CC-licensed) • Slide 71: ant_3000 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ant_3000/ (CC-licensed) • Slides 14, 16, 21, 25, 26, 29, 33, 35, 38, 40, 45, 67, 76: http://www.capetownstockphotos.com/ (Used by permission) All other images are either personal photos, or legally purchased stock photography.