Online and in-app surveys, focus groups, advisory boards, and user groups can be fantastic methods for gathering valuable customer feedback. Each approach has a place in the overall customer experience strategy for business leaders who rely on customer input to guide important business decisions.
However, one method of customer feedback collection that is sometimes overlooked is the in-depth phone interview, otherwise known as IDI’s. What role should IDI’s play in your ongoing efforts to understand your customers?
Think about it this way – online surveys often elicit relatively limited (although valuable) feedback across a large group of customer contacts. Advisory boards, product councils and user groups allow for much deeper and more targeted feedback from a small group of customers (or prospects). The in-depth phone interview falls somewhere in the middle, as dozens of contacts can typically be interviewed, allowing for rich insights from a relatively broad sample.
Understand Your Customers with Qualitative Research
To dig deeper into the perceptions and needs of current customers, former customers, and prospective customers, more B2B leaders are turning to in-depth interviews to complement their research endeavors.
That’s because when done correctly, qualitative research can reveal information like how customers feel about various aspects of your offering, how decisions are made that may affect your engagement, specific pain points they are experiencing, and how they see your company versus the competition.
Advantages of In-depth Interviews
IDIs are a very powerful approach when conducting B2B qualitative customer research because they have a few key advantages:
In-depth interviews are personal.
Because an in-depth interview is a one-on-one conversation, there is room to make it personal while still remaining objective. Unlike more structured research methods, an IDI is based on open-ended questions that can be tailored to the interviewee and their particular situation. A skilled interviewer will develop a rapport with respondents, putting them at ease so they can give their candid thoughts.
In-depth interviews are flexible.
Even an open-ended questionnaire is limited. IDIs have more freedom because their loose structure leaves room for natural, conversational flow. Interviewers can explore critical observations and expand on key topics, following where the interviewee leads. This has the dual effects of making the respondent feel heard and revealing deeper insights.
In-depth interviews give context.
Because IDIs are all about personal connection, skilled interviewers will pick up on emotional context, which can give them a clue as to what the person may be feeling towards a particular topic. The interviewer can use this opportunity ask clarifying questions to get a better sense of the respondent’s attitude and perception towards the questions being asked.
In-depth interviews dig deep.
Personal, context-rich insights give you a more complete, honest picture. With the flexibility to follow your interviewees through their frustrations, expectations, and excitement, themes emerge that you can use to change business practices for the better.
3 Examples of In-depth Interviews
There are a lot of questions that IDIs can help answer. A few examples based on the work we are doing with our clients include:
- Sales Win-Loss Interview: Whether you ultimately win or lose a sales deal, acquiring insight into all of the decision drivers – what worked in your company’s favor, what worked against you, and what really didn’t factor into the final decision – is a critically important endeavor. We interview the decision maker to answer these questions so you know where you can improve to win more deals.
- Customer Defection Analysis: For this program, we conduct interviews with customers that have recently churned to find what factors may be influencing or contributing to customer dissatisfaction. Was it a service issue? Did they have a concern about cost or value? Did a competitor’s pitch lure them away? We dig deep to understand why your customers churn so you can address these issues quickly. Importantly, we analyze the feedback to identify trends and themes over time.
- Customer Perception Audit: How do customers view you in comparison to how they view your competitors? Are there any gaps or misperceptions among your customer base? In this interview, we identify your customer-perceived strengths and weaknesses to eliminate any blind spots that could hinder your ability to keep up with the changing needs of the market.
- Market Research & Competitive Intelligence: Companies often find themselves launching a new product, expanding into a new market, or need to prepare an investor presentation. We explore the ‘why’ across all questions and dimensions so rich, in-depth insights regarding perceptions, expectations, competitive landscape and marketing considerations are revealed.
In order for any type of in-depth interview to be successful, it has to be done right. IDIs reveal the most when they are conducted by experienced researchers because it takes careful planning to know what questions to ask (and how to ask them), when to probe further on a topic, and when to move on. Capturing all the nuances from an interview takes a lot of work. You can find tips for interviewing customers here.
But the journey doesn’t end when the interview is over. Once the feedback is collected, it needs to be analyzed for common themes and translated into action opportunities. The results can reveal service gaps, which – when addressed – will strengthen customer relationships. Or the rich insights can reveal when in the buying process customers are turning away, giving you the chance to improve the experience for them. IDIs are just the beginning of your path to a better understanding of your customers, stakeholders, and potential buyers.
At Satrix Solutions, we have a dedicated team of skilled practitioners who will ask the right questions, gather crucial insights, and help you identify precisely where to focus your efforts to drive revenue. Business professionals who have partnered with us report profound insights into their customer base, strengthened customer relationships, and improvements in company culture.
If you’re curious about how understanding your clients’ needs can help you grow your business, let us help. Contact Satrix Solutions to get started.