Want to learn what your customers really think? Here's how to ask them.


You know your product or service has value, but wouldn’t it be great if you could prove that? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you had real responses from the people your business is designed to help? You can do that—and you should. Until you put your business in front of real people, it’s just a theory. So find 20 people you would like to have as customers and ask them some simple questions. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Small talk is big.

Make sure you thank the interviewee, and then warm up with one or two questions about something easy, like how her day is going. You want to create a safe space and a comfortable vibe for your interviewee so that she’ll be open and honest when answering your questions pertaining to your business.


Avoid asking leading questions like “wouldn’t you like to have a coffee truck between your subway stop and your office?” Instead ask open-ended questions like “Tell me about your morning coffee routine” that give the interviewee an opportunity to explain her situation in her own words.

Ask why.

Follow up questions using why—and its partner “how”—will help you get to the root of the problem your business is trying to solve. For example, say your interviewee describes going to the same convenience store every morning for a cappuccino on her walk to work. Your follow up question might be “why do go to this convenience store?” Maybe she likes the coffee, but it’s more likely that she likes the location and the price. When you ask, you’ll know for sure.


We already mentioned listening, but empathizing takes this one step further. It’s nodding and saying things like “That happens to me too!” in order to make a connection with your interviewee. You want them to feel understood, like they aren’t the only people who don’t have time to make coffee at home before they leave for work or simply don’t like the coffee they can make themselves and prefer a professional’s latte.

Your business can’t exist without customers, and you need to know what they think. Twenty responses to questions about the problem your business is solving will help you shape the direction and messaging for your business.

Are you ready to learn more about your customers?

If you want a step-by-step guide to interviewing customers, including sample questions and a form for keeping track of interviewees’ answers, create your free account at Skysthelimit.org to access our Customer Interview Guide template.

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Customer Interview Guide

Katie Pruitt