The DataHero Blog

How to Do 100 Customer Interviews In a Day

November 14th, 2013


1 Day – 10 In-Person Interviews

To build a better product, we are constantly interviewing customers and quickly iterating on that customer feedback to improve DataHero.  We collect user feedback via many different methodologies and channels.  Of all the channels, our favorite and most informative is in-person testing and interviews. Face-to-face communication allows you to ask clarifying questions, watch for nonverbal cues, observe people directly using your product, etc.  Each week, we make it a point to sit with our current users, as well as potential users, to test our design.

When interviewing customers or potential users, it is essential to do some preparation and ask the right questions.  A recent post on this topic in the Customer Development Labs blog: How I Interview Customers does a fantastic job of explaining of how to do great customer development interviews.  Making sure to ask questions in a methodical and contextual specific manner is extremely important for any interviewer.  Follow his 5 question customer interview script and you’ll immediately improve your interviewing skills.

Of course, you have limited time for in-person interviews, so what are some ways you can automate your collection of user feedback and do more faster?  This is especially applicable now that you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of users, all of whom have used your product and could provide better insight.  You should be asking yourself how to interview these users.

Surveys might have been your first thought.  Just create a well constructed SurveyMonkey survey to question your users (and then analyze your SurveyMonkey responses in DataHero of course!).  There is nothing wrong with a survey, but they are definitely less personal than an in-person interview.

That is why I’d like to share an easy to implement but often overlooked secret we use at DataHero that helps us indirectly interview our users: email.  This method provides very rich results and is closer to the personal aspect of an in-person interview.

DataHero Email

1 Day – 90 Email Interviews

For us, email has been one of the most effective ways to elicit user feedback, suggestions and advice from our existing users.  We simply send an email or emails to our users and ask some of the similar questions we’d ask in an interview.  At DataHero, we use to make sending these emails easy. is a fantastic web service that allows you to send email to people based on what they do in your app.  That’s right, you can use your application’s analytic events to trigger emails to your users without writing any code.  Now you can ask questions based on how often people log in, actions or non-actions they are taking in your app, or whatever else you want to explore that day.  Basically, you can can send the right message to the right customer at the right time.

Recently at DataHero, we’ve been working to optimize our first user experience.  When a user first uses DataHero, we wanted to understand his general impression: How did he like DataHero? Did it allow her to answer her data question? Were there features or services missing she’d like to have?  As such, we send a very simple email that asks: “How did things go?” after they’ve had a chance to use DataHero for the first time.

The responses to this email have been fantastic, both in open rates(~ 46%) and response rates(~ 8%).  We have learned all kinds of things about our app,  The responses have covered almost everything: feature requests, bugs, questions about functionality, and even sales or partnership opportunities.  Email is a great way to interact with our users, and we make sure to show we appreciate the feedback by sending a personal response back to each email.  More often than not, we use our response as a way to continue the discussion and learn more by asking another question.

By combining our analytics with our email questions, we not only gain better insight into what people are doing on our site, but we can also start to uncover the WHY.  The why is extremely important because it helps us better understand what we should be building, while the what helps us understand the effectiveness of what we’ve already built.  Our emails help us scale our customer interviews to unearth the why beyond what we could ever physically do via in-person interviews in a day and ultimately make DataHero become a better product each day.

By Jeff Zabel

Create my Free DataHero Account

Get the fastest, easiest way to understand your data today.