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Gather client experience data through effective interviews

By Christine Nelson, Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC

Ask enough people about their expectations, and you can identify some universal themes about why they choose you. However, surveys can only do so much.

Your client experience strategy should include interviews. Shoot for 15 to 20 clients, or contact several clients in each practice area. Ask more clients than you expect will agree to interviews. Not everyone will have time.

With an interview, you can ask deeper questions based on each person’s individual preferences and concerns. Here are some interviewing techniques that can help you get beyond general satisfaction ratings.  

Ask a question and be quiet

Wait patiently for the person to elaborate. Silence will feel uncomfortable, but don’t rush to fill it. Give the other person time to think, and their answers will be more detailed. If they become quiet, ask if there is anything else that comes to mind and be quiet again.

Ask for examples

You may have some prepared questions to ask about client experiences, the level of quality you deliver or how people feel about your team. The best interview transcripts also include real examples of how great service showed up.

If someone says that the programs or services you deliver are “high quality” or “informative,” ask them for an example. Specific examples will help you identify actual results while defining what “quality” and “informative” actually mean.

Repeat what you heard

Show that you are listening. Paraphrase what you heard the person say to get them to reinforce or clarify with additional details. “What I’m hearing is … is that right?”

Make it a conversation

People can get nervous and short with their answers if you keep asking questions and don’t participate in the conversation. You are creating an experience during the interview, and it’s a great technique to share a story of your own that relates to what the person just said.

A conversation puts your clients at ease and they are more likely to open up and be honest about their experiences. When they are honest, tell them how much you appreciate it — whether the feedback is good or bad. It is all constructive feedback to help you improve your service delivery.

Tell them what’s next.

Make sure to tell people what you will do with their responses. They want to know that they are helping you and that their input will result in something good.

If you are collecting testimonials as part of the interview, let them know that you will follow up soon to have them review some comments. Tell them that their feedback will be analyzed for improving service delivery. Let them participate in the future success of your team.

As a final tip, interviews can seem like an intrusion, but an email script can help you invite people to participate at a time that is convenient to them. Let them know how long the interview will be and offer to send questions ahead of time. More clients will say yes to interviews, and you will collect more good data to support your experience strategy and service standards.