The Customer Interview Cheatsheet

January 7, 2021

The Customer Interview Cheatsheet

This cheatsheet’s intended purpose is for helping you to conduct and manoeuvre your customer interviews successfully. Much of the ideas within this cheatsheet have been taken from a book called “The Mom Test”. The book focuses on asking the best types of questions in order to hone in on the problems your customer is facing. It also highlights the wrong types of questions you should be asking in these interviews.

The core idea of “The Mom Test”.

You shouldn't ask people whether your business idea is good. It's a dumb question because people will lie to you. Instead of talking about your concept, ask people about their lives and about their problems. This way, you gather enough data to iterate on your business venture and create a product people actually want to buy.

The 3 Rules of "The Mom Test" when conducting customer interviews:

  1. Talk about their life instead of your idea.
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generic or opinions about the future.
  3. Talk less and listen more.

Avoiding bad data

When interviewing customers you want to avoid bad data. The 3 types of bad data are complements, fluff and ideas. We are seeking to gather facts and commitments not compliments. People often describe who they WANT to be rather than who they ARE. So beware of asking questions that lead to generic answers. Get into specifics!

Don't pick your idea during customer interviews. If you do recognise it and correct it, pitching an idea means that you are trying to seek an approval. Don't PITCH!! Rather, we want to entice the crux of the problem out of the customer first, before we reveal our solution. Also, don't seek approval. your product should solve other people's problems not yours.

Questions to avoid in light of this:

  • “I'm thinking of starting a business so do you think it will work?”
  • “I have an awesome idea for an app do you like it?”
  • “So here's the top secret project I quit my job for what do you think?”
  • “No no I don't think you got it.”
  • “Yes but it also does this!”

Commitment and Advancement

Your first few customer interviews should help to frame the accuracy of your product market fit. After you have a iterated and honed your solution, you can then begin to present your ideas more firmly during customer interviews. ie: After it is confirmed that there is a market for your problem-solution and tha you can build it and people will pay for it, now it is time to reveal your solution.

However, you will need Commitments in the form of ‘advancement’. This is when the customer is ready to move from just a phone conversation to a pain customer and takes forward steps to eventually buy your product, time, money, reputation. Catching them at the point where they are already actively looking for a solution to their problem is the sweet spot.

Good questions for customer interviews.

B2C Questions

  1. Why haven't you been able to solve this problem already?
  2. When was the last time you purchased **Insert Product**?
  3. Talk me through the last time **Insert Problem Statement** happened?
  4. How much money did you spend on **Personal Growth Apps** in the last month? In the last year?
  5. What are the apps that you use the most when it comes to **Insert Problem Statement**.
  6. What web subscriptions do you have for or **Insert Product here**
  7. What else have you tried?
  8. How are you dealing with it now?

B2B Questions

  1. What problem are you trying to solve at the moment
  2. How are you building your initial community / customer base around your product?
  3. How is it different from other projects in your niche?
  4. What SPECIFIC problem are you solving?  What are you driving people to do?
  5. Can you talk me through how it actually all fits together?
  6. What sort of difficulties have come up with that solution?
  7. If I am your ideal customer, why would I choose you over a competitor?
  8. What do your first customers look like? - Do you have any users?
  9. How much revenue are you making per month?
  10. Where are you going from here? - What is the next step in the project / company?

General Questions to dig into emotional signals

  1. “Tell me more about that…”
  2. “That seems to really bug you, I bet there’s a story here.
  3. “What makes it so awful?”
  4. “Why haven’t you been able to fix this already?”
  5. “You seem pretty excited about that, it’s a big deal right?”
  6. “Why does that make you so happy?”
  7. “Go on, tell me more about that…”

If they are not the right fit

  1. “It sounds like you know what you are doing… I’m not sure I can help accelerate you in a meaningful way.”
  2. “I don’t think I can add any value to you at this point in time.”
  3. “I can’t provide value to you unless I know what is going on.”

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