Customer Interview Part 2: The Debrief

Colleen and Michele talk about last week's customer interview and what Colleen learned from it.

Listen to The Customer Interview: Part 1

Colleen Schnettler  0:00 
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Michele Hansen  0:31  
Last week, we interviewed a user of Colleen's product, Simple File Upload. And this week, we are going to talk about that interview. So, Colleen, to help me What do you think you're after that?

Colleen Schnettler  0:48  
Oh, my gosh, it was so much fun. It was so hard for me. So I turned off my video, and I muted myself, which was good, because I got very excited during the interview. And like, it was like, I was like sitting on my hands. I was like, Colleen, you have no lines. You have no, you may not speak. I just thought it was it was really great. Some of the things I noticed that he talked about that kind of surprised me, was actually one thing that surprised me a lot was he was struggling with his current storage solution for three days.

Michele Hansen  1:27  

Colleen Schnettler  1:28  
And then when offered, offered when when he remembered I guess, like that I have a thing. He didn't it was almost like there was an emotional attachment to the struggle that he had already put in that he didn't want to throw that work away right away.

Michele Hansen  1:43  
Yeah. sunk costs. Absolutely.

Colleen Schnettler  1:46  
That really surprised me. Yeah, yeah. I was really surprised about that. I didn't see that coming. You know, there were several times I thought to while you were doing the interview, where if I had been doing the interview, I would have been like, Okay, great. Like the end. I feel like you were able, I think the interview was about 2030 minutes. I feel like if I had been interviewing him, it would have been about seven. Because I would have been like, hey, do you like simple file upload? And he would have been like, Yeah, it's great. Like, okay, cool.

Colleen Schnettler  2:20  
Like, that's how I I mean, even writing down these questions. I I still just it's I usually, I don't know, I struggle with like the the circling back. Like, there was one point where you like circle back, I think to something he had said earlier, like re asked the question, and you got more information from him? Yes. That was solid work.

Michele Hansen  2:47  
Yeah. So that is something we do to basically like, rephrase what someone said, and then just say, like, do I have that? Right?

Colleen Schnettler  2:55  

Michele Hansen  2:57  
I actually know people who will do this, they will purposefully mistake what someone said so that they correct them and add more detail on

Unknown Speaker  3:04  
interesting. Yeah,

Michele Hansen  3:06  
yeah. And actually, when I first started interviewing, basically, I would think of this as effectively playing dumb, which I think was in some context was effective. Like, for example, especially when I was interviewing, you know, if I was interviewing, say, 80, or 90 year old men about their retirement, most of them didn't take me very seriously in the first place. And so I could use that to my advantage. And basically like, oh, like, what do you mean by that? I don't even know what you're talking about. Yeah. And it like it worked really well. But then being a founder, like you don't want to, like, you don't want people to think you're, you're done. Really well, like, I sort of like matured out of that strategy. But yeah, but it's saying like, Oh, so I just heard us like, you just said that you struggle with that for three days. And then you just say that, and then they add things to it.

Colleen Schnettler  4:06  
Yes. I mean, things we've talked about before, but what I really noticed in this interview is you were very, you were very call and very quiet and slow. Which is I mean, I don't mean that in a bad way. But like, it seems like you're very you're you're you're almost monotone in your tone of voice. And you left huge gaps, which we're not going to edit out so you can get the full experience everyone listening, but like huge gaps. And I'm like over here, like she gonna say something like, Is he gonna say something? Giving him really the opportunity, I think, to expound on whatever it was he was talking about.

Michele Hansen  4:47  
Yeah, I think, like, I like to think that. You know, I see the interviews aren't like acting. They're not a conversation. Rise. You almost want the other person Forget that you're a person like that you have opinions that you have thoughts about things like you are just there to absorb whatever it is they have to say and to help bring that out. And it's it's so funny that you say I was so calm and like, because I mean, like, you know me like, I'm not like that, like, if you get me at my most truly relaxed, like I am, like, bouncing off the walls, like I'm interrupting people. I'm excited. I'm making puns all the time. Like, I am very much not sitting there like quietly listening, which is, which is why I think that if I can learn how to do this, anybody can learn how to do this.

Colleen Schnettler  5:42  
Yeah, I think and I think I mean, I think for me, it's just gonna take practice. But like, one of the things he said, that really struck me, and there were so I think it would have been hard for me because he said so many things, which were literally the reason why I built it. So I would have been like, so excited. Like when he was like I just he said something like, I just wanted to build my product. I didn't want to, you know, waste any more time on file uploading, I want to be like, yes, that's why I built it. You know, like, actually, I was fortunately I was on mute. So you guys couldn't hear me. Real noisy over here. So, you know, that, I think is a founder. And then and I wonder too, like, you're almost an impartial third party here. I wonder at when you do interviews as a founder, do people treat you differently? Because I know it's your product?

Michele Hansen  6:39  
Yes, and no. I mean, so obviously I haven't I haven't had the experience you've just had of having somebody interview one of my customers while I'm there and seeing how differently they take it. Yeah, um, I don't I don't think it's been a detriment. Like, you know, to what I was saying earlier about, like, people not taking me seriously, like, I don't run into that issue anymore. Right. Like, I don't I, I have been in scenarios where I was treated dismissively, or even insulted. Thankfully, it's not that many like that, like, the actual number of interviews where I've been truly insulted was like, two out of the 1000, or whatever I've done. Um, so I, I don't feel like that. Because again, like, these things are fairly like, you're just asking questions about someone's process. And that process is like, digging into that process is going to be the same. And if anything, actually, when I like I've had a couple of times where I interviewed someone, and I think they appreciate it so much that they asked me if, like, it could become a testimonial afterwards. Oh, wow. Which never happened when I was in neutral third party, which where I think this is just it's so powerful when the founder themselves, does it because people like, wow, this is a company that actually listens to people which, right. We're just used to not being listened to. Yeah, I don't think it's been I don't think it's been a detriment.

Colleen Schnettler  8:16  
Okay, cool. So some of this was good. Oh, you go ahead. I was gonna say some of the questions you asked, I wouldn't have thought to ask, do you have? Had you worked out a lot of those questions beforehand? Or did you just have some, like, extra questions if it got too quiet?

Michele Hansen  8:32  
So I, I have a script. So if you're, you see my newsletter, it is the relatively new customer script. So I just threw that in a Google Doc. And I can, I mean, I could probably just scan it and put it with the podcast, just so people can see it. But so I took notes as we were going for each question. So I started at the top. And then those questions in the in the article are purposely as bullet points, because sometimes just the flow of the conversation, you end up needing to jump around. And so I actually skipped a bunch of questions. Like I skipped, like, a couple because or, um, it came across another another questions, so I didn't have it. Like, I didn't have to go and ask that question. Again. Um, it would be interesting to see whether like, the number of things I said, like, which of those were actual questions, and which of them were just follow ups, like, as you said, like, you know, the sort of, can you tell me more about that type of follow ups?

Colleen Schnettler  9:34  
Yeah. Yeah. It'll be fun to go back and re listen to it. Like I'm looking forward to that to kind of watch or to listen to how you did that again. And, you know, it was great because I got so much useful information out of it. Like one of the things he said, which I thought was kind of hilarious was he was like, he didn't believe it was that easy.

Michele Hansen  9:55  
So I have the I don't know if you can see this, like I haven't written down here. I have that underlined because like this is one of those scenarios is like, this should be the headline on your website is, it really is as easy as it seems. Yes, I'm gonna write like, that is like, like that is a sort of a perfect example of finding something very actionable that we can pull. Like, out of this out of this interview. The other thing was like he was talking about, like, he knew he needed to find something else. Or he was, he was like, resisting the idea, he needed something else. But he was like, getting to be open to it cuz he was really frustrated. But then he looked at all of your competitors, and their pricing was so complicated, that he couldn't figure it out. And he, he was, you know, anxious about moving forward with those because you had no idea what he would be charged. And so that's something that's really powerful that we can also use it when you're talking about your pricing is, you know, that it's, there's sort of some peace of mind with it. Right that like, you know, they're, you know, be charged for it. Um, yeah, it's so interesting how he said, Is it really this easy, because you'd heard other people talk about issues with s3. And he, I think, maybe this is a scenario because he knew you were on the phone that he maybe didn't want to say how doubtful he was, but it was really, like, I felt like I had to like work to pull that. Yeah. But that was that doubt was definitely there. Yeah, that and it makes sense. Like, it's not like he spent three days working on it. So it makes sense that like to then believe that this is something that can be done in five minutes is like that, in and of itself is sort of a disappointment, right? Like, what do you mean? So he's excited that it that he was able to solve it in five minutes, but also, he had spent three days working on something and then it turns out, it could have just taken five minutes like that, like, so I was I was purposefully being kind of careful around that to like, so there are times in an interview where I was like, Okay, I really want to dig into this doubt, I really want to like, I really want to pull all of that out. But it's like, okay, there's there's this disappointment there too. And I purposely didn't dig too much into that. Yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  12:15  
I yeah, I did not. That was I think the biggest thing that surprised me was that I didn't, I've never considered I totally get it now that he said it. But I didn't really consider that if you've worked on something for a day or two days. And it's not working the way you want it to, to walk away from it. There's probably some emotion surrounding that, like, Oh, this other thing, oh, wow, I spent two days on this. And it could have been 10 minutes, five minutes. And there's

Michele Hansen  12:40  
a social component to like, he mentioned that there was like sort of a, I don't know if it was a meeting or conversation or whatnot, where like, he was talking about it with his team and talking about, you know, this isn't working, we're having problems like we need try something else. And and then there was a group, sort of informal decision about whether they should move forward with something else. But like that required him to go to his team and say, like, I can't get I tried to do this. And it didn't work. And even though no one would blame him for that. Like there's also this social component involved in switching products, which is why these questions around. Did you talk to anyone else before you considered using it? Or was there anyone else who had to weigh in on whether it was something that you could use, like, those sorts of social elements are really important? Like, if he was in a big company, we could have heard? Well, I had to go talk to procurement first. And it's like, well, if that's a six month process with procurement, like that might kill us as a little as a little company. Right? Um, but so like, those sort and like those sorts of things, I feel like, we as like technical people, like we have a tendency to overlook the emotional and social side of things, sometimes absolute, and just focus on like, Oh, it's only about the product features, or it's only about how it performs. And it's it's not it's about this complicated human situations we find ourselves in whether those are in our own brains with the work that we've done, or with the people that we work with, or our broader peer community on Twitter or on slack communities.

Colleen Schnettler  14:14  
Yeah. Yeah. And I also got out of that, that he was kind of unsure that it really worked as as described, because it sounded too good to be true. And so he used the code pen, and the code pen is like, buried in my documentation. Like, while he asked he said that I pulled up my website and it's like, three clicks, and you have to know where to look. So I feel like that's super actionable, too. I should put that I should put a demo on the main page. Like

Michele Hansen  14:45  
you're like the age like one should be it really is as easy as it seems. And then try it right

Colleen Schnettler  14:51  
right now. To that, how have I not thought about before,

Michele Hansen  14:57  
I don't know it's okay that you didn't think about it, but you surface Get through an interview like this, and we get things

Colleen Schnettler  15:02  
in front of other people. Right? That to me, it was huge. That was a really big revelation to that. He He's a developer he wants to see at work. Of course he does. And so

Michele Hansen  15:13  
I should your reaction to that reminds me of a couple of weeks ago, when you said that the first thing you do before you're going to use a product is to read the FAQ. That had never ever occurred to me, because I never read FAQ. So it's so funny, like, and so it's just but we don't find these things out about how to other people make decisions about things. We talk to them about it, because the way we make decisions is, you know, every human is different. Yeah. And so I'm, I'm curious on another topic. So at the end, when I asked the reaching for the door question about, you know, is there anything else you think I should know? And he asked this question about a specific feature. Yeah. And I'm curious, how would you have responded to that question?

Colleen Schnettler  15:59  
Haha. Okay, so I almost I really that's what that was the first time in the whole interview, my finger was hovering over the mute button. I was like, it's a question for me. It's a question for me. I would have, I would have responded differently. I would have said I would have asked clarifying details. But I think it would have just been like, like, sure, like, What do you want? Whereas you said, How do you like, Why? Why do you want this feature? And what the thing I really liked, because he's describing the feature he wants, and I still didn't get it. And then you said, how will that help you achieve your goals or something like that?

Michele Hansen  16:39  
Yeah, I said, like, What is the situation when you when you when you

Colleen Schnettler  16:42  
need it? Because he's trying to describe this feature? I'm like, What is? I couldn't really figure out what he was talking about. But if I had answered it, yeah, I would have been like, I would have immediately started thinking of like, the technical details, how would I implement that? Is that something I can do for him?

Michele Hansen  17:00  
Which makes sense,

Colleen Schnettler  17:01  

Michele Hansen  17:02  
like, but the question we'd like, like, whenever somebody brings a feature request to us, like, our question is always like, oh, like, can you tell us a little bit more about like, like, why, why you would need this? And like, what kind of situation you would need it in?

Colleen Schnettler  17:15  
Yeah, because he's describing it to you. And I'm still kind of confused. But like I said, I want to take it in a different direction, I would have said, Sure, you know, I could let you tag your image. I mean, to be so easy, I can totally do that. Right, I can let them add a tag on to their images. And then I can segment them in the dashboard. But imagine I had based on that conversation gone and spent however many hours to implement it. And then I implement it. And they don't even use it because they don't really need it. Because it was just an idea they had you know what I mean?

Michele Hansen  17:43  
Yeah, I wasn't able to dig into like whether they wanted to do it, or they thought it was required, or, like it was kind of it was kind of unclear to me too. And I think when those things come up in an interview, you can always put a pin in something right? Like, yeah, we got some information about, you know, the sort of activity where they would need this thing, and we got some details about it. We can always email him a week later and be like, hey, like, you have that idea. Last week for this way to tag files. Can we get on a call for like, 15 minutes, and I just want to understand that a little bit better. Also, like, I don't think people will mind. In fact, they might feel complimented, that you remembered what they said. And now they're you're reaching out to them again, for like more details about this great idea they had.

Colleen Schnettler  18:28  
Yeah, yeah.

Michele Hansen  18:31  
I think that's one thing that we have tried to be so purposeful about is that whenever people bring a suggestion to us, like, we're really appreciate it, right, because like, someone went to the effort of like thinking about that, and then if they're emailing you like that was work on there. And like, maybe it was only two minutes of typing something out, but like, they had an idea that they thought was worthy enough to send you. And that deserves to be recognized. And again, like going back to like being a company that listens to people, like those, like small things, like make a difference, right? Like, I mean, how many times have you requested a feature and then you never heard something? The reply you got back was, well, actually, like, yes, you know, this is why it wouldn't work, right? Like instead of someone just saying, oh, like, definitely tell me about why you would need that or when you would use it.

Colleen Schnettler  19:26  
Yep. Yep.

Michele Hansen  19:28  
I know basically all of the like bad customer experiences I have myself, like my personal mission to do the opposite of them.

Colleen Schnettler  19:39  
I mean, I think we're not perfect but like, my biggest takeaway from this interview with Drew is, so he is someone who is using my service and is happy with it. So I have had, you know, customer interviews with people who are using my service and are happy with it and they have lasted five to seven minutes, every time. Cuz every time I go in with a list of questions, but like, I don't know, I think I think I'm just too excited, or I'm too quick to wrap up. I don't think I'm waiting for the silence quite enough. Because if it had been me, Andrew, it would have been like, I don't know, I probably would have been like, Can you tell me how you're using it, he would have told the thing about allowing companies to upload their logos. And then I would have said, how does it work for you? And he would have said, great, I love it. And that would be the whole thing. So the takeaways for me from this are to be quiet. That's my big takeaway, like you're doing right now being quiet.

Michele Hansen  20:40  
You also want to you know, you're asking questions specifically about the product? Yeah, the questions I were asking are, what did you try before this? Right, what are the other alternatives? You looked into? Who were the other people, you talked to you about alternatives? Like you had these expectations for how the product worked? Now that you've used it, did it actually do that? Like, would you use it again, like, like, because all of those sort of situational factors that are beyond the product like like, this is the really important thing is thinking beyond your product, like our products are inevitable? They're just one stop that somebody is on in order to get this broader project or work or job done? Yeah. And how do we build out our understanding of what the rest of that story looks like? That they're going through?

Colleen Schnettler  21:35  
Yeah. Yeah, I'm excited to practice. I mean, you've done 1000s. I mean, you've done hundreds, if not 1000 of these, right, like you've been doing this for

Michele Hansen  21:43  
I have no idea. laughs I've Yeah, it's probably it's in the 1000s. Wow. Okay. Yeah. This was so fun. Because, like, I was going into this, and I was like, I actually like, I mean, I talked to you about your product, but I don't really know that much about it. Um, and so it was like, like, not being an expert in the product I was talking to you about someone was so fun for me, because, like, I got to be genuinely curious about his process, because I have no idea like, what what that process would look like personally. Yeah. And I think that's the thing about these. doing interviews is kind of like suspending your own understanding of something, and then just like just plunging into what it looks like from somebody else's perspective. And like, imagining that you are hearing about this process for the first time. And like going into it sort of wide, childlike eyes, man. Oh, like, so why did you do that? Oh, and then you try that. Okay. But okay, then what did you do there and sort of just sort of slowly painting the picture of like, what this whole thing looks like from this person's perspective. I like I genuinely enjoyed it.

Colleen Schnettler  22:52  
That's awesome. That's awesome. It was great. I'm so glad we did it. Like I said, I got so much usable, valuable information from him, especially like things I can do immediately. In terms of up the headline website. Yeah, the headline, the headline and the code pen code. I'm also gonna ask him if I can put him as a testimonial on my website.

Michele Hansen  23:15  
I think Yeah, idea. When he said, I had it working in five minutes, and I would have shouted from the rooftops or the mountaintop, Georgia, not the rooftop. Like, like that is that is a good testimonial. And but the key about it is that when he said that, it's like, Oh, great. Like, I'm so glad to hear that. Like, can you tell me why you felt that way? And then it's again, it's a couple of days later, we say, hey, like you said the other day, that you had it working in five minutes? Like, is there any chance that I could put that on my website with, like, a picture of you and your, you know, your name? Like, is that okay? Like, like, we asked about it afterwards, because during the interview, we want to keep that complete feeling of trust, and like, we don't want to like sort of break that's like the equivalent of breaking the fourth wall, which we like, we don't want to ask for the testimonial or for, you know, get talking about like implementation details of a feature request, or or say, you know, yes, we can do that. No, we can't like, all we want to say is, tell me how you would use that. How would that work for you? Like, why do you need that?

Colleen Schnettler  24:23  

Michele Hansen  24:24  
It's really, really, really important. Like, it's the same as like, you don't want to like you can't try to sell someone on one of my calls, which is so tempting. And I have been in that situation. I mean, so many times where I want to be like, Yeah, actually, we have this product that does that. And like you I can send it to you like right now and like, does it solve the problem you're talking about? Like, but then it's like, wait a minute, the fact that they don't know about the product that tells me something? Is that something about our marketing? Is that about where that product is placed on our website? Like, how can I use the fact that they don't know about it, to build more understanding of how they perceive the product or the problem or like why is it they haven't come across it yet? Or where would they expect to find that? Like, because maybe where we've put it is not where they would expect to see it. Like, is there something about their process? We're not understanding? Like, anything they say is is, should we take in with curiosity and trying to learn more, rather than turning it into an action? I guess that's kind of the better way to summarize. Yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  25:28  
that's actually a great, you know, that's a great way to summarize it, what they are saying, don't immediately turn that into an action and try to solve the problem in your head, because that's, that was a big thing, while I'm listening to him, listening to him that I wanted to do was like, Okay, how do I solve that problem for you right now. And the key takeaway is, you don't need to do that right. Now. That's something that can happen later. But right now, we're just we're just receiving information.

Michele Hansen  25:58  
Yeah. And I think it's hard to suspend that, you know, especially if you're someone who cares about other people. And your way of helping them is by creating things for them and solving things for them. It's so hard to suspend that. Yeah, like, let me just do it for you right now. Like,

Colleen Schnettler  26:19  
the weird, let's

Michele Hansen  26:20  
talk about it. Let's dive into it.

Colleen Schnettler  26:21  
The weirdest thing is this doesn't sound hard. Michelle, like, like I can take direction like we have talked about this before. And it's just, it is a surprising challenge I have found, because I love people. I love talking to people, I thought I would be like epic a customer interviews. And to be fair, I've only done a handful and I'm not terrible. But I definitely This is a whole different, like you said it's not a conversation like this is a whole different way of approaching your customer. And it's actually in practice, it's harder than I thought it would be.

Michele Hansen  26:58  
But if somebody who is as ADD and bubbly as I am can manage to tamp themselves down to do this, then anybody can do it.

Colleen Schnettler  27:10  
Yeah, no, I think I can get there. I just, I just seem surprised. It's been this hard. How about that? Like, I'm surprised. It hasn't been easier. And I just think it's a skill. I think that's the difference. Like, I'm not just having coffee with my buddy, right? Like, this is a skill. So it's a skill you can improve upon with practice.

Michele Hansen  27:30  
Yeah, I mean, and like you have not had the opportunity to observe someone like this is really the first time I know, it was so exciting, by the way, observe something new. And when I was learning how to interview, first of all, I was learning in a very high stakes scenario of like talking to people about their finances, which is something we hold, you know, pretty close to our chest and like, don't talk about with people. So we really had to do it. Right. Yeah, the second thing is, like, I probably observed, like, I don't know, 15 or 20 interviews before I was actually on them on my own. And like, the people I was observing were, I mean, they're genuine experts in this one of them basically has a PhD in user experience design. Like, they're genuine experts in what they do. And so, like, I had the opportunity to learn with them, and then be paired with them on interviews for I mean, I don't know, like probably another 50 or 100 interviews too, and like doing partner interviewing as well, which is easier than then doing it all on your own. So it is a hill to climb, like and I think you should give yourself credit for trying to learn this whole new skill without having, you know, basically a coach there to stand with you and and help you through it like, but I think you can do it.

Colleen Schnettler  28:48  
Yeah. Well, and that was the best part of doing this is because I thought about what I would say in response to everything he said, I was trying to be really cognizant of what I would have said in response. And so it was interesting to counteract that with what you were saying. To kind of, you know, show me kind of guide me on maybe a different path.

Michele Hansen  29:13  
Yeah, so I mean, it sounds like you you were able to pull a lot from this.

Colleen Schnettler  29:17  
Oh, yeah. This is super great. Like I'm super pumped now to go practice who wants to be interviewed? Send me.

Michele Hansen  29:25  
I sent out a practice scripts the other day that you can use on anyone does not just about your product like you could I tell you, I guess it's hard during like COVID times, you'll have to find someone who will get on a call with you. But like just interviewing someone about the last product they bought. Oh, it doesn't have to be something technical. Like I did this. I in a workshop a couple of years ago, those co workers that I mentioned that we did interviews together. We ran a meetup for a while and we did a workshop on teaching people how to interview because it is hard. And it is weird, right? Like it's not a conversation. And and we just did it, you know what, what was the last product you bought, and I ended up talking about a bottle of shampoo. And, and even though the person interviewing me had like she was kind of nervous about it, she didn't really know how to do it. She was able to pull out all this information about like, why I had gravitated toward this particular shampoo and what I was hoping would solve for it. And she told me about why she was she'd switched phone plans. Like so you know, it. Those are fairly like innocuous things to talk about. But there's like, there there is we don't change anything we're doing in life unless there is struggle, right? Unless there is a reason. Yeah. And so when someone has just switched to a new product, what we're trying to find out is what was that struggle? And what made them like this product, click and like what were they thinking? And then we can pull out those aha moments? Like, is it really as easy as it seems? Spoiler alert, yes. Like, that's really where this stuff comes up. But so like, you don't have to start on your customers, which might understandably freak you out. Like, you can just start on, you know, a friend of yours or whatever. And just because because like the the flow of the of the conversation is just is very, very different.

Colleen Schnettler  31:24  
Yeah. Awesome. Well,

Michele Hansen  31:28  
I guess that wraps us up for this week. Thank you so much for listening. This has been a really fun little series to do. And definitely let us know what you think how your own customer interviews are going if you've tried them after listening or reading my newsletter, and we'll talk to you next week.

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