Making the most of a customer interview

28th November 2011 | Posted in Content creation

If you’re putting together an article for a case study, newsletter or a blog, and you’ve got half an hour with your customer, you want to make the best of your time.

  • Research the company – make sure you know what your customer’s business is about and the market they’re in so you can make your questions relevant
  • Plan your article – what sort of information will you need? Check what the management are expecting from your article
  • Get a proper introduction – if the interviewee doesn’t know you, get the people who have set up the conversation to tell them who you are and what you want to do to put them at ease
  • Forewarn your interviewee – send a list of questions or discussion areas in advance, so they can be ready to answer you. Much better than having to chase them up to fill in the gaps later
  • Start with an easy question – could I check your job title and spelling of your name for example?
  • Don’t waste too much time on chat – friendliness and making the interviewee comfortable is good, but they’ll be happier with you if you get on with the call and let them get back to their job
  • Get good quotes – if they’re not coming up with any, there are ways and means to put words in people’s mouths that they won’t deny later
  • Definitely get good statistics if you possibly can – if you’re writing a case study around a product or service, then what everybody wants to know is “How much time/money did it save? How many more sales did it generate?”
  • Check at the end that you can contact them again if you have more questions – email could do the job rather than picking up the phone again

On top of all that, make sure your interviewee understands from the start how the review process is going to work. Reassure them that they will get a chance to see the article to check facts and quotes. (Make that point clear – it’s not so they can rewrite it in their own style.)

And finally, get sign-off. Put together an approval form that shows where you’re planning to use the story, and get written approval.

Take these steps and you’ll boost your credibility with the customer before you start, and get the best possible story to support your marketing.

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