Customer Interviews - five steps

The 5 simple steps most product managers desperately need to implement to move their “I do not have enough time to be in the market” into “I spoke to 30 customers about this”.

Importance of customer interviews: Just recently ProductPlan released their 2020 study on product management. Since years the pains have been the same in product management: Product managers bear their cross with the constant lack of time! Many studies show that lack of time for product strategies, gaining customer or market feedback is on the pinnacle of pains. 51% of all product managers are suffering from this when they are trying to design a product.

…It has been proven a thousand times. And it will do the same for you.

How do you gain time if you do not see a tiny time slot?

Let’s go deeper in the topic of “I do not have time”. I know the pressure to have hundred balls in your hand and not to drop one. Sales, development, marketing, designer, CEO everyone was pulling on my sleeves as well. Whatever the reason is for your time constraint, let us concentrate on solving the issue.

There is only one solution to get more time quickly.

Many of my students tell me, that the “boss on top” is responsible for solving the issue. Well, the economy might set other priorities right now, the boss is on sabbatical or the ears are just deaf …

Customer interviews are the solution. You need to go into the market.

See how the Product Management Dashboard supports you conducting customer interviews:

free product management books

You need to speak to your customers- the existing ones, the evaluating one, the future ones. You need to gain uptodate market knowledge. This market knowledge is the inevitably necessary data that is required for business plans, product planning, requirement prioritization and marketing. Market-fact based strategies and requirements will reduce your meeting time dramatically, reduce your prioritization meeting from months to days.

Let’s start with the 5 steps to gain time for strategies soon:

  1. Concentrate on YOUR task as a product manager and say to meetings and task that you love but will not bring your product a step further (this includes work you like, but they are not your task at all)
  2. Now go into your task list and find an actual task that needs customer feedback/pains/insights, i.e. new innovative idea, feature prioritization meeting, testing meeting
  3. Interview your customer on this specific topic, i.e. preferably an in-person meeting or via phone, via survey (if you need approval for something)
  4. Document your knowledge readable and retrievable, i.e. standardized template and file system
  5. Present you market knowledge in the business plan, meeting, i.e. “ 73% of customers interviewed, have the following issue.”, “52% of the beginners use it as….” Your colleagues will nod; your boss will sign.

No discussion on who is right. Less questions. With these results you save time! Time to do more customer interviews! Time to work more strategically! It has been proven many times. And it will do the same for you.

The change starts with you. If you still think you do not have time to conduct 7 customer interviews within 2 weeks, then take some time to review your meetings, time management or your product manager role. If you are unsure if the tasks that you are doing on a daily basis are the right one, have a look at the typical tasks of a product manager. Focussing on the right tasks for your role, saves you instantly loads of time.

Here is more help for your customer interviews: Download our free textbooks, which are based on Open Product Management Workflow™ and read about interviews. It will give you best practice to conduct customer interviews, sources to find information on customers and what are the relevant questions that reveals you market facts (customer voice and competition) for your business plan, development and marketing.

Overview: More articles and information for product managers



About the author

Ulrike Laubner-Kelleher is a passionate product manager. For more than 20 years she has been involved with innovative products and the optimization of development processes. For many years, she has managed and trained the product portfolios in international product management. She has held leading positions in product development, strategic and operational product management.

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