Customer Interview

This is my absolute favorite kind of UXR. Whether it’s straight customer interview or user test conversation, naturally, it’s the most effective, straight to the source research method. Of course, there are many correct ways to be effective as a UXR. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the UXR methods I particularly enjoy and excel and I always come back to Customer Research.

To capture the Google HEART (see, do, think, feel) notes the participant shares, my approach is really simple- close mouth, open eyes.

I think a lot about an interview I had for an administrative assistant position when I was first out of college. I had a little bit of office experience- working in museums and professional theaters- but I was totally nervous. I was called into a interviewer’s office to an interview that last all of 10 minutes. Maybe it was this anxiety on my part that led the interviewer’s behavior- no idea. The outcome was they totally eviscerated me- my manner, way of speaking, resume. They really let loose on how they felt about me as a professional, making it clear that I wasn’t worthy of this or any administrative position. At age 22, with an art degree & unique skills I wasn’t sure how to pitch for gainful employment, I was *devastated*, thinking, this interview must be right. They have evaluated me and found my qualifications very under-qualified.

10 years later– I have a very different analysis of this recruiter and my performance. As someone who conducts at least 280+- one-to-one interviews per year, I think about this interviewer’s actions: they had opportunity to set up an applicant for any experience- positive, negative, a learning moment- and chose to not be constructive.   As a UX researcher, I use this ugly, hurtful memory as a lesson for each research session I lead:

  • A participant deserves a moderator’s respect & attention. Participants are generously allowing me- a stranger with a video camera- to witness thoughts and to witness their behavior? Especially if the business objectives are exploring sensitive, intimate, personal, financial, emotionally fraught subjects- it’s the time to tread carefully, with permission, and with empathy.
  • Exploring the mundane and the minutiae of the participant’s cognitive/behavioral routines is a vast and rich space for findings and insights.
  • Find the ease- this is vague but is what I think: be familiar and welcoming/easy and “light” with your mind, and the participant will feel that energy and mimic your behavior. It’s much easier to find the stride in the conversation/script following. It’s the moderator’s role to steer this chat to meet the project owner’s needs. You still are obligated to take care of your participant.

Some thoughts…