“Better Customer Interviews with Hannah” podcast
1/ How Wanting My Customer To Like Me Almost Botched My Customer Interviews


Hey friends and ham, hahaha, friends and fam! This is Hannah and this is a podcast about customer interviews and you know, just really talking to people because your customer is a person and an interview is really a conversation. So let’s start this podcast with that lens: talking to people.

Today’s episode is about how being a people pleaser almost botched my customer interviews. So yes, I’m a people pleaser. If you are too, I hope you find this episode useful. And more importantly, what I’m going to share with you is – are – four things you can do to encourage honest customer feedback, especially because negative, honest feedback, that’s the stuff that is most useful to you. And it’s also the stuff that people are more shy and hesitant to give.

So this came up when I was running customer interviews for a client. They were exit interviews and I did two of the four things I want to share with you at the outset of the interview to welcome that honest, negative feedback.

So thing one, you’re probably already doing this, but it’s worth highlighting. I let them know that everything they shared was and would stay confidential, right? So this kind of sets up the, what’s said in Vegas stays in Vegas. It allows for more permission.

People are more willing to open up because they know that what they’re saying isn’t going to get leaked anywhere else, right? So I told them what you share won’t be seen by my client. And if they do see the transcript, it’ll be anonymized.

All right, thing two. I set a precedent of negative feedback. What I mean by that is I communicated at the start of the interview that we want negative feedback myself, my client want critical, constructive criticism. That negative feedback is actually really helpful. And framing it this way to encourage negative feedback makes it easy for people to share it, right?

Because they’re no longer like introducing something that might cause a negative reaction. They’re actually sharing something that we want. So they’re being agreeable. We’ve taken the negative feedback and made it positive.

Right now, this video, this podcast is about my people pleasing tendencies too. So let’s talk about how even though I set up the interviews to welcome negative feedback, I still had to watch my tongue mid-interview because as a people pleaser, if you are, when you can relate, I want to be liked, right.

Add to that most of the people that I was interviewing in this case and usually with any of my clients I, I don’t know them. They’re strangers to me, right? I have no prior relationship with them, which as a people pleaser, it makes me slightly, I guess like more vulnerable, you know, I want to be liked.

 I want to make a good impression. I want people to feel positive things towards me. All of that is kind of like up and way more prevalent in my mind when I’m in front of a stranger. So I need to keep that in check.

Especially when a customer shares anything about the course that they’ve taken or the product or the service or my client. I need to stay neutral and not agree with them. Right.

Because doing that, agreeing with them like, oh yeah, you know, I love my client too and she’s great and this course is wonderful. Doing those things can make it difficult for the customer, the person that you’re interviewing to share something negative when we’ve already agreed on something positive. 

So let’s just take this out of the hypothetical and into an example. I met my friend Nina at school and university in Cornell, which is in upstate New York.

So that’s like four or five hours depending on who’s driving from where I live now, in Toronto. I didn’t know her before and I met her in second year and I remember we were sitting in like a patio or kind of a rooftop patio and we’re sitting beside each other, introduced, you know, through some friends and I asked her where she’s from and she said Toronto and I just parked up, right? I’m in the middle of the states in this tiny town and I meet someone not just from Canada, from Toronto?! I got really excited. 

So I asked her where in Toronto and she sorta dismisses the answer the question because she thinks that I’m not really going to know the place that she’s talking about. And so I asked her again and she says Oakville, and I was huge. The ridiculously, unnecessarily excited because I’m also from there, right?

 So it was like a me too! Oh my God! I’m from there too because we had something in common, right? That’s where that excitement came from and it was this like instant bestie-moment and I didn’t want to lose that connection as a people pleaser. I would never want to risk that connection by suddenly saying, “Oh, you know, actually I don’t really like Oakville”. I mean that just feels like too much of a risk.

And that’s the exact scenario that you want to avoid with your customer. Even though agreeing with them and finding these kind of points of intersection and points of contact are really great ways to build rapport.

You don’t want them to be about your product or your service or the client. You don’t want your customer to sort of worry about being liked by you. And this might sound a little bit dramatic, this concept of being liked in just kind of a mere 30 minute interview, 45 minute interview, but it really is a base human desire.

It used to be attached to survival, right? Like being liked meant being part of a tribe, a having access to food, to shelter, to protection. And even though this isn’t a rational need to be liked, isn’t a rational need, like based on survival today, it’s a reflex that’s still there.

So if you just kind of avoid making those kinds of agreements with your customer, you avoid any chance of even potentially triggering that reflex. Now, if your customer isn’t a people pleaser and they’re forward and willing to share their constructive negative feedback, that’s great. But I would still do these three things.

I would still give confidentiality, set confidentiality, encourage negative feedback at the outset. And keep your own opinions out of the picture because you don’t want to leave the accuracy of the voice of customer data that you’re getting up to their personality. And kind of hinge it on that.

You want to be facilitating and encouraging and teasing out very proactively this accurate unbiased data. So be that blank canvas, stay neutral.

One more way that you can do that, which you, the, you can sort of hold back on biasing your customer is to actually introduce negative feedback through out the interview.

So all of the first two pieces that I shared, confidentiality and what was the other one? Confidentiality and encouraging negative feedback are at the top of the interview. Right?

And then the next piece of not including your bias is probably going to come up in the middle of the interview. And this fourth thing is also going to come up in the middle of the interview and it’s to be the one to introduce negative feedback, right? So you take the onus off of your customer to have to bring it up.

For example, let’s say my, I’m asking about how approachable my client was in the course. I would say instead of just asking “how approachable was my client in the course?”, I might say something like, “how did you find so and so? Was she approachable and available or was it a bit difficult to get in touch with her?”

What I’m doing here is two things. One, I’m introducing the negative stuff. Like I said, right, so your customer doesn’t have to, I’m the quote-unquote bad guy. It’s on me. Which makes the risk of saying something negative easier, right?

Because all they’re doing now is agreeing, and two, I’m giving them an option. A point of reference, and this is the reason that like a multiple choice question is so much easier than an open ended question. So you kind of create an easy frame for the questions.

You make it really easy for the customer to answer them and kind of slip into dialogue with you. Now, of course, as it goes with any of the things that you learned about interviews, these aren’t hard and fast rules. These are, we’re dealing with humans and conversations in real time, right?

But you know, I hope you found this helpful and, and, and remember that you still want to implement these kinds of parameters and put these strategies in place in your interview too, to make sure you’re guiding them and sort of staying on course.

All right, so there you have it as all I have for you today. Thank you for tuning in. You can find me on iTunes, on Google, on Anchor, wherever you find your podcasts. Hit that like button. If you liked this podcast, give me a thumbs up because who doesn’t like a thumbs up? And I will see you next week. Next episode. Thanks. Bye!