“Better Customer Interviews with Hannah” podcast
2/ Why You Have “Bad” Customer Interviews (+ How to Prevent Future Flops)


Hey friends and fam! This is Hannah and this is a podcast about customer interviews.

I said this last episode, I’m going to say it again and I’m probably going to keep saying it.

It’s not really customer interviews, we’re talking about people here, right? This is a podcast about how to talk and have conversations, better conversations with your customers, understand them better on their terms.

And today I want to talk with you about something I hear from a lot of people who run interviews, copywriters, marketers, people running interviews for their own business and it’s that feeling you have when you’re in the middle of an interview and you think, oh, this is such a waste of time, right? This person’s wasting my time. This interview isn’t going anywhere. I just want to cut it short and talk to someone else, right?

When you feel that way, when your customer isn’t giving you the answers that you’re looking for, whether they’re, you know, maybe they’re being polite and you can sense it and they aren’t really being honest cause they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Whatever it is, you’re not getting what you want. It is annoying. Sure. Frustrating. Yes!

You feel kind of helpless and you just want to, oh you know, finish it real quick and hop onto the next thing.

So this happens, right? It is part of the interviewing process when you are talking to humans, right? Like, 3-dimensional beings.

And I want to offer you a way out of this because most of us tend to forget a couple of things about interviews that I want to remind you of and in reminding you of them, I really think that you’ll, you know, start to not only give but get better interviews if you can sort of shift your brain this way pre-entering those interviews.

So thing one I want to remind you of when you start feeling and processing crappy things about your customer in the middle of the interview, is they are picking up on it.

They can tell. How can they tell? Howare they picking up on it? Well, they’re just reading your body language, right?

Your tone, your what’s called “vocal emotion”. There isn’t a ton about vocal emotion that’s published in research.

But what is available says that when you hear somebody that is excited or you hear somebody that sounds really tired, instinctively you change your own emotional experience to match the level of emotion that you’re hearing.

Okay, so this is the same thing that happens, like, when we’re watching youtube. I mean actually this thing happened to me last night.

I couldn’t sleep. It was watching or listening to a podcast in the dark, laying on my back and noticed myself smiling like an idiot up in like looking at the ceiling in the dark. Right?

I mean they wouldn’t even saying anything funny, but I was just sort of feeling and picking up on the positive vibes and found myself ridiculously smiling.

Right. And this is easy to understand. Like, look at your everyday life when your spouse or your partner is annoyed.

It’s easy to feel annoyed by when they’re angry. It’s like, oh, okay, instantly you get angry back. When they’re frustrated, it frustrates you, right? So there’s a lot of kind of unconscious, subliminal communication that’s happening in settings that we are, you know, the, it’s, it’s more obvious like in relationships that are more intimate, but this is also happening in conversations with your customer.

Okay, now, yes, we have a modicum of control, right? Of course there’s a professional, this is business setting. You know how to contain and hold your tongue in those conversations, right? And be polite and appropriate and still smile.

You’re, you’re not telling them that they’re frustrating you, but this is where knowing your micro expressions, your micro-tells are really important because a lot of times I really think I am smiling and hiding from my husband and the fact that I’m annoyed at him, but he still picks up on it.

Right? I really think I’m showing my friend that I’m perfectly okay, but from a mere text, she can tell that like some things off for you. Okay. You seem a little sad like from a text, right? So even if we think we’re coming across in a polite, appropriate professional way, if you feel annoyed or frustrated or fed up with the customer in front of you, they’re probably picking up on it.

Now this does get a bit more complicated too, and I want to go there. I mean I’m a counselor, so I love going to these parts, but it becomes really difficult to figure out what exactly are you picking up on when you notice, when you sense that someone’s in a bad mood, when your spouse or your friend walks through the front door, they don’t even say a word to you. They haven’t even looked at you, but you can tell that they’re not okay.

And on top of that, their tolerance or their definition of let’s say an angry voice or tone or attitude or being overly direct or under direct are completely different.

Like what I think is direct and brash, my husband thinks that you know, oh there’s nothing wrong. That person is just being straight forward. What triggers me doesn’t trigger him.

And so you also want to be mindful of that because in a conversation with your customer, maybe they think they’re being really open and really helpful to you, but meanwhile you’re not getting the answers that you’re looking for, right?

And so that clash, they’re going to sense even on a subliminal level that you’re dissatisfied with what you’re getting. It’s going to make them clamp up even more, and that’s the opposite direction that you want to go in.

So yes, this is….complicated, but all of this to say the easiest way to circumvent this, to not leave any kind of communication up to that subliminal piece is just to reframe the way you’re thinking about the conversation, right?

I know you know this, but as a reminder, take a second to appreciate before you go into that interview that this person has taken their time to help you to further your goal. I mean, they’re not really getting anything out of it other than maybe a gift card or a token if you’ve gone that route. But otherwise, this is their time that they’re offering to help you. Right?

And, instead of focusing on what you’re not getting from them, focus on what they’re actually giving to you. Because if they are an ideal customer or ideal client, then anything that they are communicating to you is useful, valuable information. It’s going to help you understand them and their life and their concerns and their personality better.

And that’s going to help you communicate better, help you sell to them better, help you engage with them in a more effective way.

So consider that, right? Instead of kind of reacting to their tone, look at what is their tone of voice is saying. Do they seem rushed? And if they do, you can always say something like, Hey, I just want to pause my questions really quick and ask and just sort of check. Are you okay for time? I just, if you are rushed and if you have something else that you need to go to that’s totally fine, let me know. And, and you know, we can work with that.

Let’s say they’re not opening up the way you want. So instead of repeating your question, the same, the same question a couple of times or rephrasing the same question, ask about your question.

You could say something like, I know that you know, you mentioned this piece about not having clients and I’d like to actually go back to that cause I really want to understand what that was like for you when you didn’t have clients. Is it okay if we chat a bit more about that? And you know, you can definitely say no, but that was really interesting. It really kind of stuck out for me. Can we go back there?

And those, both of those examples is where I’m letting go of the question. So maybe the question isn’t helpful. It’s not phrased the right way. The timing is wrong. Maybe they don’t want to talk about it. So I’m just releasing the question and more importantly, getting their permission.

This kind of goes back to like Seth Godin, permission marketing. It’s the whole reason we do double opt-ins. And the same goes true here, you want to get them on board. And in doing that, you’re building rapport at each and every step. You’re considering them, you considering their situation, and that rapport is going to help you get more honest, accurate feedback. That voice of customer data that’s going to be really effective for your ad or your website or whatever the case may be.

Make sense? I hope you found this helpful. Thanks for tuning in and I will see you next week. You can find me on iTunes or Google Play or Anchor or wherever you find your podcasts.

Hit that like button, if you liked this episode, give me a thumbs up because who doesn’t like a thumbs up? I love a thumbs up and I will see you next episode. Thanks. Bye!