There’s no disputing that customer intelligence is important. According to Pragmatic Marketing, companies with a solid understanding of market and customer needs are more profitable, twice as fast in getting new products to market, and own higher customer satisfaction levels.

If we all emphatically agree we should know our customers better… why don’t we?

If you’re just getting started with Buyer Personas, we recommend starting with Primary Research. This information collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc. It might feel overwhelming, but trust us when we say, getting started is the hardest part. With a few essential best practices in place, you’ll be collecting gems of insight left and right.

Because we know the interview process can be daunting, we worked with Cintell Advisor and Persona Expert, Samantha Stone, to create the Ultimate Persona Interview Guide. It’s 24 pages of real world examples, sample questions and email templates. Trust us, you want to download this.

Here are 5 things you should know about conducting interviews as part of your Primary Research:

  1. It’s about quality conversation, not following a script.
  2. Before scheduling any interviews you’ll want to develop an internal interview guide. Think of your interview guide like guard rails vs. a rigid script. This can be extremely useful for fostering a quality conversation, and help ensure you’re asking similar questions to everyone you interview.

  3. WHO you interview is as important as what you ASK.
  4. It’s hard to put a strict rule around how many people you should interview, but starting with 8 to 10 quality exchanges is a good place to start. You’ll be surprised how many people agree to participate when you take the time to ask. Be sure to speak to customers AND non-customers! You’ll be grateful for the perspective.

  5. It’s going to take time, but it will be worth it.
  6. Every interview will be different, but in general, allow around 45 minutes per session. You don’t want to wear yourself or your generous candidate out! You’ll know when to stop when you’re no longer learning new things and the discussion feels more like a chore vs. a detective adventure!

  7. Keep your ears wide open.
  8. Always remember that this is not a survey, it’s a quality conversation and sometimes the best insights start as a passing comment. When you hear something you’d like to learn more about simply ask for more details. The answers might surprise you!

  9. Turning hours of interviews into actual insight.
  10. Laying the the data out into grids will help you see everything in one place and validate your initial gut reactIons. You’ll want to be able to easily access, edit and maintain these insights so adding it to a Customer Intelligence tool like Cintell will be key. From there you can easily share the information across your organization to ensure it’s accurate and put to use!

What’s next?

Once you’ve completed the interview process, don’t leave all those insights sitting stale on your computer. Create and publish buyers personas companywide in Cintell’s easy-to-use, free online tool. Start creating your personas today!

If you’ve already created personas, but struggle to maintain them, stay tuned. Our next best practices post will include tips for keeping your personas up-to-date. After all, even the best insights aren’t useful to anyone if they’re incorrect or outdated.