Getting Started with Customer Interviews: A Conversation with Nicole Baldinu, Co-Founder and COO of WebinarNinja

The WebinarNinja co-founder stops by to chat about her recent foray into customer interviews and what it's been like to get started.

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Michele Hansen  00:00
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Michele Hansen 
Hey, welcome back to Software Social. I am so excited about what we have going on today. We have Nicole Baldinu, Co-Founder and COO of WebinarNinja joining us. Welcome, Nicole. 
Nicole Baldinu  00:51
Hey, Michele. Thank you. I'm excited to be here. 
Michele Hansen  00:54
I'm so excited to have you on. First of all, I mean, you guys have built such an incredible company. Just to give a little bit of background. So, WebinarNinja was founded in 2014. You also produce the $100 MBA Show, which won Best of iTunes in 2014. 23 full-time team members, 100% customer-funded, an amazing business. I am so excited that you're joining us today.
Nicole Baldinu  01:24
Aw, thank you. That's, that's really nice. It's almost like sometimes you forget, you know, where you've been. You just keep going and charging forward. It's like, yeah, we've been around since 2014. Must be doing something right. Some days, it doesn't feel like you're doing anything right, you know.
Michele Hansen  01:43
When in 2014 did you guys launch? Because we were also 2014.
Nicole Baldinu  01:47
Oh, WebinarNinja, like, around April. 
Michele Hansen  01:51
Nicole Baldinu  01:52
It was around April, yeah. 
Michele Hansen  01:53
Nicole Baldinu  01:54
I know. It's crazy.
Michele Hansen  01:56
It's kinda, so, we launched in January of 2014, and we are still just the two of us. And you guys have like, 23 people, and I mean, it's so interesting how many, like, different paths you can take.
Nicole Baldinu  02:14
Yeah, and the number of iterations, I think, like, yeah, I don't even remember version one, you know. It feels so long ago. But that's true. Like, I don't think we in, like, even intentionally set out to just grow, grow, grow. You just kind of take one, one step forward, and you just keep moving. It's like, yeah, we need help, like, you know. You're answering all your customer support queries in the beginning, and then it's like, no, you need some help. And then you hire your first teammate, and then it just, just keeps growing.
Michele Hansen  02:47
So, let's fast forward a little bit to, I guess, would be five years into it for both of us. We met at MicroCon in 2019 and were basically instant friends. Um, and I remember what, I think, I think you might have come up to me, and you were really interested in learning how to do customer interviews, which is, like, my jam.
Nicole Baldinu  03:17
Yeah, I loved that conference so much. It was, it was such a, I think for me, that was the first time, it was kind of the first SaaS-focused conference. I think a lot of the conferences I'd been to before were very, I don't know about you, if you've attended like, other conferences outside the SaaS space, but a lot of podcasting conferences, you know, I remember the first, do you remember NMX? New Media Expo?
Michele Hansen  03:45
The name sounds familiar, but I didn't, I've never been a huge conference attender, so I haven't been to a lot.
Nicole Baldinu  03:52
That was my first conference, and that was January of 2013. And that was literally when I, you know, that was my first kind of foray into entrepreneurship, and so meeting bloggers and podcasters, and it was all just such a new unknown, like world. But I remember like, MicroCon being just really special because I just felt like, that it was, it was kind of like, I felt people were really honest and vulnerable and authentic when it came to talking about, you know, the pitfalls and the challenges of SaaS. businesses. And yeah, and I remember I loved your talk because I just felt like, you did, what was it like a chat, like it was a 10 minute tactic or something, or? 
Michele Hansen  04:41
Yeah, it was an attendee talk. 
Nicole Baldinu  04:43
Michele Hansen  04:44
Nicole Baldinu  04:45
And, and I still have your notes. I shared this with you last time we spoke. I still have your notes because I just thought it was so helpful, so practical, and the, the crazy thing is though, when was that? So that was MicroCon 2019, right? 
Michele Hansen  04:59
Nicole Baldinu  05:00
That's the first time I heard, I think that's the kind of the first time I really thought, oh, you can do, like, you can talk to your customers. You can do, like, this kind of user research. And I've only done my very first customer user research this year, three years on, but I still have your notes. And it was, yeah, it was just super inspiring. I just thought it just seems like such a cool thing to do. And, yeah, so I finally, finally took the plunge.
Michele Hansen  05:28
So, let's dive into that plunge a little bit because I think it's, I think it's totally normal that it would take you some time from from like having that moment of being oh wait, I can talk to customers, to then sort of, not just like, sort of working up the courage for it, but also the time and, like, fitting it into your schedule and thinking it really, really through and so, like, could you kind of take us back to earlier, I guess, earlier this year, when you really started to hit the ground on it?
Nicole Baldinu  06:03
Yeah, and I mean, I should, I should also say that we had done user research and customer interviews, but it wasn't me that had done it. So Omar, who's my Co-Founder, the CEO, also my husband, business and partner in life and business, he had done the first user interviews, and kind of, because he's more customer has been always more customer-facing. He had done user interviews, but it was something that I never felt that I could do. Like, I'd kind of be behind the scenes and reading Intercom, like support, you know, conversations and seeing what, you know, customers were saying and replying. But it was all very much chat and email never like, let's get on a call and let's talk about it. So recently, we've kind of wanted to, the whole reason behind starting to do this is because we wanted to kind of refine part of our offering and also look at a potential MVP out of this, this offering. And so I just thought, I don't know, and all of a sudden, I just felt like I want to do it. I don't even know what, like, why I just woke up one morning and said I'm going to do these, which is, like, really unlike me. But um, but I just decided to, yeah, I think I made that decision, like, I'll do the interviews. And then as soon as I took that decision, I literally went for my notebook from the, to look for the notes that I took from MicroCon. I then went and looked at all your blog posts and everything that you had on, you know, on the topic, as much as I could like, digest in like, I had a week, I think, before I was like, I scheduled the first one. And, and then yeah, and then I was just like, okay, I have got my questions now, thanks to like, you know, I looked up some of the sources that you had, you know, referenced. So I went in, you know, okay, I've got my questions. Now I know what I want to do, I want to know what I want to ask. And then it was literally the mechanics of okay, get a Calendly up, send out the blast, like, the blast out on Intercom to actually invite people to, you know, to be interviewed. So then all those little pieces, too, that I think, like, I was kind of procrastinating on, they just all fell together really quickly. It's like, okay, you just got to invite people, people reply. You just got to have a, you know, a sequence to, you know, send them your Calendly then it all gets done, then you've got your questions. And then it just, then they just started. And then as soon as I did my first one, I was really upfront with the first. She was she was lovely, my first interviewee. And that was great, because I was very nervous and I just basically said, you're the first person I'm interviewing. And so that kind of just made me feel a bit more at ease. And, and she was just lovely, and just easy to talk to and just answered all my questions. And then I just realized, after that call I was like, this is so much fun. I love this. I think when we talked last time, I was like, totally geeking out on just how much fun it is and what a positive experience it actually ends up being talking to your customers.
Michele Hansen  09:08
I think last time we talked, which was about a month ago, I remember you said that it had basically become your favorite part of your job.
Nicole Baldinu  09:19
Did I say that? Yeah, it's true. It's weird. It's totally taken me by surprise. I was thinking a little bit more about that, though. Why? I feel like it's a very positive experience. Because initially, I thought oh, you know, there's the potential that you know, the conversation could just turn into like, this is one of the things I thought it would turn into. I thought it would turn into a let's, let's ask about, you know, support for WebinarNinja, like, show me how to do this or complain about something that's not working as expected. I thought it would go down that path, but it didn't. It just ended up being very much focused on the questions I was asking and, which was really focused on what they do, like how they deliver their content, and, and about their business, and about why, I mean, the, my favorite question, and this, I think comes from your blog post, and I think this is what kind of, I see them light up and kind of lights me up is when I asked them, what's the big picture? What are they trying to do? And that question is just, it's, it's just my favorite question on the interviews, because it just brings out, yeah, it just gives them an opportunity to really share, oh, this is why I'm doing what I'm doing. And they get to just, I don't know if I'm like rambling a little bit, but I don't know, would, have, you've asked that question before, right?
Michele Hansen  10:55
Yeah, I'm curious, can you ask me that question as if you were interviewing me?
Nicole Baldinu  11:02
Okay. So, Michele, what's the big picture of what you're trying to do?
Michele Hansen  11:13
And that's it. 
Nicole Baldinu  11:14
That's it. 
Michele Hansen  11:15
Like, that's only a couple of words. They're not very big words. Like, it's a such a simple question, yet you have found that that just lights people up.
Nicole Baldinu  11:28
There's only one person that kind of asked for clarification, and then when I had to reframe it, I just said, why are you doing what you're doing? Oh, my why? Oh, okay. But everyone, everyone else kind of, it was interesting, like, everyone else got it. And it all comes around to you know, they want to help, they want to share, they want to empower. It's just, it just brings out, yeah, it brings out their why, but without asking it in that way. Because I think if you say what's your why, I think if it's all, I don't know why that feels a bit more daunting than what's the big picture? Because the big picture, because sometimes I would actually expect from that answer that they would talk about what they're trying to achieve in their business. I actually didn't know originally where that question would go. That's kind of probably what surprised me. I thought it would be more focused on the business. Like they would tell me what they're trying to achieve maybe financially, or, you know, what their goals are. But it did kind of step back, for some reason it did actually generate the response of this is why I'm doing what I'm doing. That makes sense? 
Michele Hansen  12:38
No, it does. I've actually been, I was thinking about this a lot the past couple of days, because one of my, my subject matter editors for my book was, they made a note in the, in their edits, that I had a couple of why questions, and they reminded me that those need to be what questions, and I've been thinking about what's and why's all weekend, actually, so I'm so glad you brought this up. Because when we ask someone a why question, we're asking, in some ways we're asking for causality. We're asking why they do something, like, and asking them to sort of think through the reasons why they do something. But if you ask someone the same question, but you rephrase it as a what, it's a much easier question. Like, why are you here versus, what led you here? They're basically the same question, but if I asked you what led you here, you walk me through the different steps that you went through, and the causality can sort of come through the details of that. Versus if I said, why are you here, then you have to sit and be like, why, why am I here? And like, like, you get lost a little bit in the question. And so asking a what question instead is usually cognitively much easier to answer. And, you know, maybe, as you said, some people may, you know, they may appreciate being asked a why question after the initial what question. But for most people asking, you know, I mean, I do this with my daughter, too, right? Like, you know, instead, instead of saying, like, you know, you know, what, like, why aren't you down here for dinner yet? Like, being like, be like, so what's your plan? Like, dinner is on the table, what's your plan? And then that opens up to, oh, well, I'm actually getting this ready. Or like, you know, this weekend, she's like, oh, I'm making a card for daddy for Father's Day. Okay. Alright, cool. Like, you're not, this isn't an intentional thing. But so, rephrasing as a what I think gives it also, as you said, it gives people options to where to take that question. And I think, I think kind of as sort of both of us just had a moment of earlier on when we were talking of like, wow, I guess we have been doing this for a long time, and it's pretty awesome, and how cool is that? Like, we don't really step back and think about that very often, and I wonder if when you asked that question it like, it sounds like you are prompting that same kind of reflection in people, which, in turn, makes them really excited to talk to you because you're making them feel good about themselves and what they do.
Nicole Baldinu  15:25
Yeah, I'm just blown away by that, just that little explanation about the difference between the what and the why, like, it just takes the whole process, the whole, asking those questions to another very sophisticated level, and just realize sometimes, like, I don't want to, I don't, sometimes I feel like I don't want to think too much about it, but I think it can be so sophisticated and so refined, the actual process of asking these questions and learning more about people. I guess this is my first run at it, and, yeah, like, even if it's, if it's not at that level, whatever I'm getting out of it, I feel is worthwhile. And I know that I can take it to another level because I love what you just explained, and I think it makes so much sense. But yeah, there's, there's so many layers to it. There's so many layers to it. And it's true, I do feel that it does, I do feel that sense of like, it's fun, like they don't mind, like the crazy thing is it's like, I don't know how long the tick, a typical interview should be, I should ask you that, but, you know, I said, you know, I don't want to take up too much of people's time. So I just said, okay, I'll just keep it to 20 minutes. They've all gone overtime. And there's not a sense of like, I need to get off this call. I have to initiate that let's get off this call, because they're very happy to continue talking because we're both actually having, I feel like it's an enjoyable experience on both sides, which is really cool. 
Michele Hansen  16:56
Nicole Baldinu  16:57
That really surprised me but,
Michele Hansen  16:59
So that that makes a lot of sense to me, because you are, like, you're hearing about how your product helps them and, which, you know, you mentioned you, you know, pop in on intercom support tickets and whatnot. Like, I think for, you know, us founders who do, like, talk to our customers a lot just by default, because you know, there's customer support their sales, like there's, there's all those other things. But interviewing someone is so, so different, because they tend to, like,, it's much more appreciative environment than, than like, hey, there's this bug or whatever. But then also for that person, like they get to talk about what they do, and they're actually, like, MRI studies they've done of people when they are, when they are talking about themselves or their experiences to another person, like, the parts of the brain related to motivation and enjoyment light up way more than they do, than if you were, than you were listening to someone else talk or you're talking about something that isn't directly related to your own experience. So it's, like, it is enjoyable for people to, to be asked these questions. I think as you kind of, as we were sort of talking about a little bit with the what's and the why questions like, there's, there's a lot of, like, levels here, but you don't necessarily need to know all of those levels in order to get started. You just need to be, I think, kind of like you did, to just sort of being willing to take the jump, which, you know, I think the first time feels a little bit like a polar bear dip and jumping in a freezing cold ocean, and you're like, okay, here we go. And then the next time you're just like, sprinting towards the ocean and excited for it.
Nicole Baldinu  18:48
Have you ever been, this is just going sideways now, have you ever been stood up on one of these interviews?
Michele Hansen  18:53
Nicole Baldinu  18:54
Okay. Lots, or just?
Michele Hansen  18:56
So I noticed that that, like, it used to happen a lot when I was a product manager working in a company. Um, and I think that so, but when I'm from recruiting as the founder, like, people tend to show up. Like, it seems like it's more important to them. Like, when I was working in a company, we had someone who was coordinating all of the interviews, and so we had never spoken to them before we got on the phone with them, even over email. And I think it's easier to blow off, like, an anonymous person, rather than the person they're going to talk to, nevermind somebody who has a title, whether that's Co-Founder, or like, I mean, sometimes we actually invented titles just for the purpose of interviews, like, 
Nicole Baldinu  19:42
That makes sense, though. 
Michele Hansen  19:43
Like, I think we had some, like, Head of Customer Experience, which wasn't even a title at the company. And actually, Cindy Alvarez in Lean Customer Development talks about doing this, too, that like, it's much easier to know show when, when you don't feel, like, an attachment to that person. Um, so I think these days, if someone doesn't show up, it's usually because like, something, like, something legitimately like came up.
Nicole Baldinu  20:12
Yeah, no, I totally feel that because it's literally been just one person. And I do feel like there would be something that, you know, because I do recognize that sometimes I feel like there's an element of not intimidation, but like, oh, wow, I'm actually getting to talk to the Co-Founder, so it is a bit more special for them. And I do feel the first part of the interview might be a little bit stiff, but, yeah, maybe a little bit stiff until we kind of, you know, until I think a big picture question really breaks down the, let's forget that, you know, we're just literally two people talking. And then I think they do forget the interview setting. But yeah, I'd say like, you know, just one out of how many I've done, and it's not that many. I've done 13, so one out of 13. That's not bad. You can do the math. I haven't got a calculator, what ratio percentage that is. But, uh, yeah. Yeah, I definitely think, and the flip side of that, too, is the, the recognition at the end, which I get to feel really kind of special or feel so, it's so rewarding for me when they'll turn around at the end and say, you know, this is so good that you're doing this. Like, they really appreciate that a company would actually listen, take the time to talk to their customers. And they, you know, I've had people wish me the greatest success, and you're gonna do a great job, and this is gonna be amazing. And it's just, and you can, and I feel, I like, I genuinely feel like they're being authentic, because they felt like I've listened to them. I've, you know, taken the time to, you know, give them an opportunity to share what they need, what their pain points are, you know, learn a little bit more about themselves. And then I do feel there's that reciprocation of, like, I wish you well, and no, I wish you well. It's kind of cheesy, but it's kind of sweet at the same time.
Michele Hansen  22:17
You know, I find that people who I do interviews with, even though it's really not intentional, like, they will offer to do a testimonial for us. They will offer to be a reference like, like, or I'll notice on Twitter, like six months later, like, they're the one who's like popping in on threads when, when people need what we do. Like, it really creates this, like, incredibly valuable connection.
Nicole Baldinu  22:42
Yeah. Do you have any, like, do you do any follow up? Like, what's the next step? Because literally, I'm at like, stage one right now, where it's like, doing the interviews. And I've just hardly just, you know, started the analysis, and I haven't gotten very far. And then I'm thinking, well, what's the next step after that? Is there some other sort of, invite them to a focus group with, you know, and like, what's, what have you done?
Michele Hansen  23:08
So I actually, I want, I'm going to come back to asking you about the analysis because I'm super interested to hear about that. Um, it depends really on what it is. So for example, if they like talked about something that, let's say that we ended up deciding in the future might be a new product, for example. Like, I might come back to them and be like, hey, you know, this thing we talked about, and it might have been, like, three years ago, like, we're exploring this now, like, can I talk to you specifically about this particular element again? Or maybe we have a prototype of something, asking them to run through it with us or, you know, if there was sort of something that was unclear, or we needed to follow up with them about. Um, but sometimes there is no follow up. Very often, actually, they will follow up with me and be like, hey, like, you know, like, you guys seem really open to feedback, and so we're, you know, we're working with this other piece of data, like, is there any chance you guys could support that or whatever? Like, they will come back to us very often. But there doesn't, you know, beyond a thank you note, really, there, there doesn't have to be, there can be as much follow up as you need, right? Like if you're doing something early, like it might make sense to, you know, to ask them hey, like, can I come back to you for further questions if our prototype or maybe to help us prioritize different things, like, to go back and do card sorting with them? It really kind of, like, it sounds like you're talking to people who have been customers for a long time. Do we actually talk about that targeting you did to decide who to talk to?
Nicole Baldinu  24:40
I didn't, I just ran, no, they might not be customers for a long time. But they definitely are users and have an, I would say that the ones who've replied are all you know, they've had, they've used the product for some time, but it could be as little as like a month. It doesn't,
Michele Hansen  24:59
Nicole Baldinu  25:00
Not longer than that. And then yeah. Yeah, we've had, I've had some more longtime users, but generally it's, yeah, just people that, because the question was quite targeted and asked a very specific question when I did the call out, like, do you do this and this? I'd love to talk to you.
Michele Hansen  25:19
Oh, yeah. What was, what was the exact question?
Nicole Baldinu  25:22
The exact question was do you run live courses or live training? 
Michele Hansen  25:27
Nicole Baldinu  25:28
I want to talk to you. And then so, that was the, yeah, that's how I got them in. So I think that specific question helped as well. I want to know if it helped.
Michele Hansen  25:45
You picked that question because you said you're exploring an MVP of something, and also sort of potentially repositioning or sort of tweaking your positioning towards that specific market?
Nicole Baldinu  26:00
Yes, because its current usage, it's a current way that the customers are using, you know, WebinarNinja to deliver live training and live courses. So I wanted, I want to learn more about how they're using it, and where their pain points are, and, yeah, and what we could do better in that, in that kind of space.
Michele Hansen  26:23
It sounds like it was a question most people would answer yes to.
Nicole Baldinu  26:27
If they do it, yeah. 
Michele Hansen  26:28
Right. Yeah. 
Nicole Baldinu  26:29
But not all our users. So because I suppose you know, there's a lot of WebinarNinja users who are, you know, using webinar ninja for marketing.
Michele Hansen  26:39
Nicole Baldinu  26:40
And they're not necessarily delivering training. 
Michele Hansen  26:43
Right. Yeah. So the analysis, before we talk about what you do after the analysis.
Nicole Baldinu  26:51
Oh, my God. 
Michele Hansen  26:53
Like, what are you doing? Like, like, what does this process look like for you right now, and it may not be sort of conceptualized as a process.
Nicole Baldinu  27:04
Okay. So so far, it involves printing out the transcript. Step one. Step two is reading it with a highlighter. And, and so I guess where I'm struggling, or where I kind of want to refine the analysis is, what am I looking, because I'm looking for a few things, I suppose. I'm looking for, you know, words that they say or things that they actually do, actions they perform, things that are concrete. Then there's also the oh, I wish something that they don't do, but it's kind of aspirational. So. you know, how much weight can you put on, on, on on those kinds of, you know, it's like, oh, we should do this. But it's like, what, have you ever done that? You know, would, how likely are you, they don't know. They wouldn't know, right? If it's something just like, you know. And then it's also, yeah, looking at it through the filter of like a marketing message. How would I then communicate to resonate with people who are doing the same thing so that I could, you know, attract the same type of people as customers? So there's kind of like, three buckets, I suppose. And so yeah, and then so there's the highlighting. And then it's, because of there's these, kind of, three kind of areas, and I'm just kind of have columns, and I'm just writing out, you know, things that fit under those columns.
Michele Hansen  28:45
Do you feel like you're getting out of that what you were hoping for?
Nicole Baldinu  28:52
Um, well, I have to say so far from just the interviews themselves, I feel like I've gotten a lot out of it. But I want to see, I, I'm not sure. Yeah, I don't know. This is a little bit like, I don't know, early stages.
Michele Hansen  29:08
Have you, have you tried diagramming the process for them, like, trying to sort of identify what, you know, what their big picture is, and then just all of the different pieces of that? Even if they're not, you know, sometimes we think of a process as like a bunch of linear steps, but sometimes it's also sort of an ecosystem of steps that kind of sometimes all sort of happen in a jumbly sort of order at the same time. And I'm curious if you've been able to sort of figure out what that looks like, for even, for each person.
Nicole Baldinu  29:43
No, but you're obviously saying that I would do that diagrammatic kind of visual for each one, right? And then later, look at all the similarities. 
Michele Hansen  29:55
Yeah. So some, I mean, if you're looking at people who are going through the same Sort of overall goal, then it would make sense to, to split out all of the different steps per person. And then to break them out by, did we talk about the different dimensions of problems? Like, the functional, social, emotional dimensions?
Nicole Baldinu  30:16
You, yes. But I was very, like, new to everything you were saying, so I was like, one process to everything.
Michele Hansen  30:24
That's okay. So, um, so I find this helpful, especially for, like, pulling out relevant parts that can be used for marketing or like, you know, sort of, wouldn't, like, quote them exactly, but like, the can inform like copy and whatnot. So there's a functional dimension to a problem, which is, you know, they, they want to run a sales training because they need their salespeople to sell more, or something. Like, so they need a tool that allows them to connect with their sales people remotely, for example. There's a social element, which is they are running this training, and there may be 10 people that they are training, and those 10 people have different levels of technology experience, and some of them have been with the company for a very long time, some of them are very new. Like, what are the different social factors going on, and how might they express that? Like, I want my team to feel like they're on the same page, like, for example, might come through and a quote, and then you say, so you hear that word team? And you're like, okay, well, what do they mean by team? Who exactly is on that team? Like, what, what is the story of all of how all these people came to be working together? And there might be an emotional perspective, as well, of like, how, how do they feel about the tool they used before? Was it frustrating for them? Did they feel like they were, you know, banging their head against the keyboard trying to get it to work, or to get their team members to install it? Or did they feel great when they get off of these trainings? Like, does this, do they find the tool, you know, easy to use? Like, and like, those are like, those also can come out in the quotes, too. And so what I find helpful is to kind of diagram the different steps, and they may be they may be linear steps, they may be, you know, concurrent, like, and then, and then, but for each one of those pieces of it, breaking out the functional, social, emotional components of it. 
Nicole Baldinu  32:23
Okay. Okay, yeah. Wow. This is so cool because there's just, there's so much to unpack in, you know, in one person's experience. And then I suppose, as you see the commonalities, I guess, that's when you, you know, across more people saying, if they're saying the same thing, I guess that's when you get validation, that's when you get, yeah, the understanding that this is affecting, this could be affecting more people. So I suppose I've gone, you know, the experience of actually talking to one person becomes very, like, it's just you and that person, and it becomes very much restricted to that world. And then you've got to step back and go, okay, I've got all these people now, they've said all these things. Now I've got to make sense of it. So it's just, I feel like I'm still, I'm enjoying the first stage so much. Like, and I feel like I've gotten a lot out of that first stage. But now it's like, okay, now this data is so valuable. What do I do with it? And I want to make sure that, yeah, it's unpacked. And then obviously, I know this information, I'm going to be unpacking it, but then I've got to communicate it to the rest of the team, as well, so putting it in a way that's like, you know, I can share it with Omar and the product team and now CTO. So there's just so many levels to it, but it's you know, it's all doable. It's exciting.
Michele Hansen  33:59
I think the more people you talk to, too, you're gonna start seeing those commonalities in in processes. So like, last episode, I was talking a little bit about activity-based design, which is basically the idea of going a step beyond human-centered design and thinking about the different processes that people are going through, and then you can start seeing the, the commonalities there. So for example, when I'm talking to someone, and it turns out that they're using us because they're doing, you know, US government Home Mortgage Lending compliance, like, their experiences of that are going to be very different than somebody who is you know, working with getting the timezone back from tractors that are in fields. And, but if I talk to somebody who's doing the compliance, like, generally like, like, as I when I hear that I'm like, okay, now I have a better idea of what this process is, from an overall perspective. How can I learn more about this person's, like, their company's specific functional elements, their specific social elements, like, their specific emotional pieces? Like, what do they think of the other options that they've tried compared to the other people I've heard and getting more and more depth each time. But there can be a huge breadth and, especially as I think you guys also are a horizontal SaaS, right? So you're, you're selling across many different industries, and, and I think this is where customer interviews are so fun, because I get to learn about so many industries and like, I'm like, I didn't even know that was a thing. 
Nicole Baldinu  35:45
I know, so varied. 
Michele Hansen  35:48
Versus, you know, someone who's selling horizontally, sorry, vertically within one industry, like they might not have that sent, you know, it might vary based on, you know, company size, or stage or whatnot. Um, I'm really curious, you mentioned bringing your team into it, which, you know, as a two-person team, we don't really do as much, but so like, how have you been able to bring other team members into this, or like, involve them in what you're learning? 
Nicole Baldinu  36:16
Well, so far, like, the first step I thought would be just okay, I'll put it, I'll make sure that I share the recording, the transcript, the details of the person I've used, you know, in like little folders on Basecamp. I've just basically organize it into little folders. And then as soon as I, you know, put up a new, a new interview, then I make sure that I share it with, so far right now, it's just me, oh my and our product, UX-UI designer, Maria, so I just share it, I say, hey, guys, there's a new interview. And I know they've been watching some of them. You know, I've highlighted a few that I thought, oh, this is super interesting. This person is definitely someone we'd go back to. So that's been just the extent of it so far. I feel like if I'm going to then, you know, share it, say, with our CTO, when it comes to more development time or, you know, when it starts to be a thing that's going to be fleshed out, or you know, if there's any development work, then I feel like there would have to be more, kind of, maybe a bit more of a traditional kind of a report where it's like, you know, X percent of people said this, or the majority are saying this, this is what, you know what I mean, it would have to kind of be backed up a little bit more by statistics.
Michele Hansen  37:29
I think they're, you know, I like to use qualitative and quantitative data together. And, you know, I, thinking back to when I was working in a bigger company, you know, we would say, like, for example, we see, you know, you know, 35% of users drop off on this page, and, you know, and then having a sort of data that like, this is important to the business for, you know, x millions of dollars reason, right? Like, if fewer people did that, then hello, money. And, but then we have like, quotes from people like, oh, well, it turns out that, like, they find this really difficult because that x, or they're looking for this other piece of information that isn't there, so they click the back button. And then here's a quote from someone that says, I really didn't know where to go, like, and then, and it's like, okay, so like, here's the picture, like, and now here, okay, great. Like, here's a project, like, here's something that a team can work on of, like, you know, the bounce rate from here is 35%. Like, let's get it lower because we have the, you know, we understand why people are doing that. We also understand why it's important to the business. Like, statistics, I find will not really come out of interviews, but interviews, explain why the statistics are what they are. Like, a spreadsheet of data will tell us what is happening, but it will never tell you why. Only people can tell you why, but you need both. Like it's, it's, I think there's sometimes people sort of think about, like, that you only use, you know, quantitative data, or, you know, I talk about interviewing and I think you only do interviewing, and it's like, no, like, porque no los does, like do it all together.
Nicole Baldinu  39:10
Porque no. Definitely los dos. Definitely. Well, yeah. It makes sense. And I think that's just, I think, why the process of actually, you know, literally doing a very manual printing out, highlighting actually gives you the opportunity to, to read because, you know, you're going to get one kind of experience when you're listening the first time and, you know, you're asking the follow up questions. But there's so much probably that's missed, even in on that call, until you actually go and read and, and highlight and just, yeah, analyze word for word, everything that was said. And there's a whole other layer there to unpack.
Michele Hansen  39:15
Yeah, I wouldn't, have you asked Maria, your UI-UX designer, to also read through them and do her own highlights? 
Nicole Baldinu  39:42
No, not yet. But that, is that something you,
Michele Hansen  40:00
That might be interesting. And, and there is research that says that when, like, multiple people are analyzing an interview, they pull out more of the problems. So the, the sort of like the paper on customer research was in the, is in the context of usability testing was called The Voice of the Customer. It's from 1993, or 1994, and they did all these different tests on how to pull out customer problems and analyze them. And they found that multiple people analyzing an interview tends to bring out many more of the user needs than just one person doing it.  That makes so much sense. Yeah. Because then, like, the way I'm thinking, obviously, I'm trying to do this as fast as possible, too, right? Let's get to like, analysis and presentation of like, here it is. This is what we need to do. I am trying to, like, speed that process up. But yeah, the risk there is that it's really then just my interpretation. 
Nicole Baldinu  41:02
Michele Hansen  41:03
Right. And some, they might just watch a video and, yeah, I remember that. But that deep level of analysis is, yeah, is going to be missed if we don't give that opportunity. So, yeah, that's a really good point. I mean, we did that, I believe, like, with the first user interviews. We gave those to our marketing teammate. So, that's how those were used, I feel. But I definitely think if it's, you know, we're starting, you know, if it's an MVP, then yeah, you're right, like someone else needs to go, I think this is actually the problem, or yeah, I agree, or no, I disagree. That's not the problem. And I think, you know, organizationally, giving somebody else the chance to discover something, too, like, they're not just being told what the learning is, but they have it, like, chance to discover it for themselves and maybe see something that somebody else missed. And one thing I love in Erica Hall's Just Enough Research is she talks about how powerful it is to bring other team members into the process because they're, you know, when we do interviews, and then bring them to other people and we're so excited about what we've learned, sometimes people can feel threatened or intimidated by that. Because all of a sudden, there's this new information coming in, and now it's on them to learn it rather than they didn't get to experience the joy of discovery themselves. And,
Nicole Baldinu  42:29
Oh, my God, you're blowing my mind. Sorry. 
Michele Hansen  42:30
And so it's more, like, if you can allow them to be in on the discovery process, whether that's as, you know, a silent listener on the call, or as part of analyzing the transcripts, or even, you know, collating transcripts, which is when you find, you know, let's say you find five common quotes, and then you're putting them all together have different commonalities. like they're part of the process, they're part of what's being learned, and they feel more invested and aligned with like, like, I just remember when, what like, when we, when I worked in a bigger company and we started bringing in the developers into just sitting in on usability testing, and not even asking questions or anything, just just listening, like, the level of team motivation and alignment, like skyrocketed because all of a sudden, everybody was learning.
Nicole Baldinu  43:23
So was, I just, yeah, I hear you. Like that, it makes so much sense, but I suppose it's one of those things that we just feel like, oh, we don't have time, you know, we got to move on. We got to keep, it's one of those things that does take time. But you're right, like, that excitement that I think is, like, this is so awesome. I'm having so much fun. This is so important. I'm learning so much. Just by sharing it, it literally is just my experience at that, at that point, unless somebody else gets to discover it for themselves now. Oh, man. How long, this whole process is gonna take three times as long. No, no, but it's good. It's good. It's so it's so valuable. But yeah.
Michele Hansen  44:06
And also the, in, the process doesn't have to ever stop. You know, it sounds like you're sort of in an intense phase right now, where you've been, I mean, when did you start doing the interviews? 
Nicole Baldinu  44:20
Oh, my gosh. Would have been like, not that long. Probably just like, three, four weeks ago. 
Michele Hansen  44:29
Okay. And you've done 13 in the past month, basically. 
Nicole Baldinu  44:33
Yeah, less. 
Michele Hansen  44:34
Nicole Baldinu  44:34
Is that a lot?
Michele Hansen  44:35
That's, that's a lot. Like, that's a really good number, like, um, you know, I guess you are doing a specific like, project. So I mean, usually the, what I, like, the general guidance is to do five and then sort of stop and pause and analyze and see if you need to change your targeting. So, it sounds like you're consistently hearing different things from different people, so that warrants talking to more people. But also making research not just something that happens when you have a specific question, but just as a general sort of, I think, I tend to call it, like, maintenance research, like just sort of, on a general basis. But like, that's, that's really good, 13 in that amount of time. And so it makes sense that it would feel a little bit like, okay, now I have to analyze all of this, and this is going to be a lot of time and like, where am I going to find the time for this, in addition to everything else, but I think, I hope that eventually, you can find a place where you're just kind of doing like one or two a week, and maybe you're doing one and your UX person or a marketing person or somebody, a developer even, like, they're doing another interviews, and then you've got just like two a week, and then it's like, okay, like, what did we learn? Like, you know, does this does this match what we've heard in the past? How does it differ? Like, what new have we learned? Like, is there anything else we should kind of, you know, consider digging, digging on in the future?
Nicole Baldinu  45:59
Hmm. I love that. I wish, I mean, frankly, like, the five would have been helpful if you'd told me that last time. Five? No, I'm just kidding.
Michele Hansen  46:12
I mean, you also don't, you don't have to limit yourself to five, right? Like, it's just sort of, that's like, the kind of goal. And again, that's, that is also based on research, too, that you can surface in the context of usability studies, but like, surface 80% of customer needs with five interviews, but that assumes a pretty defined scope. And where you started with a broad scope, it makes sense that you would need more until you feel like you're starting to hear patterns.
Nicole Baldinu  46:41
Yeah. And I love what you said, like, that it definitely, and I'm so passionate, I think the more I do this, and the more, like, I talk about this, and geek out on this, and just love this whole process, the more I realize how much it should be a part of just regular in processes within a company, like, 
Michele Hansen  46:57
Nicole Baldinu  46:58
Like you said. Yeah, I know, right? Like, I'm gonna spearhead the user research of the company. Well because it is, I mean, I don't know, like, like you said, we said at the beginning, it's like, it's one of those things, I think, as a company grows, you end up doing a lot more management, and, and that's great, because if you're working with great people, it's okay to you know, to do all those management duties. But this just becomes, you know, and then, you know, there's obviously always the putting out little fires here and there, whatever. But this, this has just been such a positive experience that I think, just really enjoyed it for that reason. So having this as an ongoing thing, I think is, would be great.
Michele Hansen  47:44
It sounds like you are I, I can just, I feel like I can see how inspired you are by doing, like, by how motivating it is. I am, I'm so excited to continue hearing about how all this goes. Um, and I feel like, I feel like I could talk to you about this all day because, like, talking to people about talking to people is my favorite topic. Like, like for my book, I interviewed 30 people because I just, it's just so much fun. But if other people want to stay in touch with you, what, what is the best way for them to do that?
Nicole Baldinu  48:26
Oh, like, to reach out? Just reach out, There you go. You got my email.
Michele Hansen  48:34
And you're on Twitter, too, right? 
Nicole Baldinu  48:36
On Twitter. I'm on Instagram as well. You know, they can contact our support team and ask them to call me. Yeah, I'm in there. I'm in there every day.
Michele Hansen  48:49
Nicole Baldinu  48:51
Yeah.Thank you so much. This has been so much fun. Like, like, like you said, I could talk about this for days, days on end.
Michele Hansen  48:59
Alright, well, that's gonna wrap us up for this week. If you liked this week's episode, please leave us a review or tweet at Nicole and I. We would absolutely love to hear what has made you think about. 

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