Customer Interviewing: Crawl, Walk, Run
Customer interviews make students anxious because they fear approaching strangers.
It’s our job to build their customer interviewing muscle.
Like the Make Entrepreneurship Relevant Slides, you can use these slides to get your students excited about interviewing customers. If you’d like to lower student anxiety around customer interviews, try this series of experiences:
CRAWL: Learn What To Ask
In your first class on customer interviews, consider using a lesson like the Customer Interviewing Cards to help your students learn:
- What questions they should ask
- What questions they shouldn’t ask
- And, most importantly, why
Once your students have a good sense of what to ask during an interview, they’re ready to . . .
WALK: Interview Classmates
Students should get comfortable interviewing in a low-stakes environment, so have them start by interviewing 2 – 3 of their classmates.
It’s common for students to feel awkward conducting their first interviews. Let them know the awkwardness is normal and that’s why you’re giving them the opportunity to practice. Reassure your students that the more interviews they do, the more comfortable they’ll feel.
Bonus: Having students interview each other means each student gets interviewed as well.
When students get interviewed, they experience how validating it is to have someone listen to their problems.
When students realize that it feels good to be interviewed, they discover they won’t be bothering their interviewees. That insight alone can reduce their anxiety.
Note: The goal of classmate interviews is just to practice interviewing – they shouldn’t be used for real business model validation. Have your students start their classmate interviews off with, “What’s the biggest challenge you have as a student?” and then let the interview flow from there.
Click below to learn how your students can RUN and FLY with their customer interviews!
RUN: Interview Family and Friends
After interviewing a couple of classmates, students are ready to try interviewing friends and family members. This step gives students a safe way to practice interviewing people who, like their customers, will have no idea what a customer interview is.
As homework, ask your students to interview 3 friends or family members for at least 30 minutes each. Their goal is to learn as much as they can about the problems their interviewees have encountered in the last week (i.e., “What have been the biggest challenges that have come up for you over the last week?”).
As with the classmate interviews, the friends and family interviews shouldn’t be related to the product/service the students ultimately want to launch. These are just practice interviews in preparation for . . .
FLY: Interview Customers
Your students are now ready for real customer interviews!
You’ll want to make your students know the right customers to ask for interviews, and how to ask for those interviews, but at this point, your students will have much less anxiety about interviewing customers.
Since we started implementing this progression with our students, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in our students’ interviewing confidence and the quality of their interviews:
“At the beginning, I was really nervous about interviewing but after getting feedback from my friends and family it’s, surprisingly, become my favorite part of the class!”
– ExEC Student
If you’d like any more help teaching customer interviews, including:
- A sample customer interviewing script
- How to find customers to interview
- How to ask for an interview
- How to analyze interviews
…or click here to view it.
This spring if you’d like:
- Engaging activities
- Skills-based structure and
- Easy LMS integration
Get a preview of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).
In upcoming posts, we will share more slides, videos, and exercises to engage your students.
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- Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.