A look inside my voice-of-customer interview process
I’ve had a lot of questions about how I interview my clients’ customers as a website copywriter, so today I’m showing you what that process looks like and why my clients love it.
How My Customer Interview Process Works
Step 1 | Scheduling Interviews
As soon as my clients book a copy project with me, I remind them to email a few of their past and current customers to explain what we’re doing and find out who would be willing to be interviewed.
Once they get permission, they pass those customers’ contact information along to me and I start reaching out for interviews. I normally use a tool like Acuity to make scheduling these calls as simple as possible.
I start reaching out to interviewees at least two weeks before a copywriting project officially begins; that way, “Week 1” of our project can be spent conducting interview calls, not following up with people who forgot to reply to my emails.
Step 2 | Conducting Interviews
Before each customer interview, I put together a list of questions based on what my client offers and what we’re hoping to accomplish on their site.
Usually, these questions follow the customer’s journey: What did their life/work look like before working with my client? What was the experience of working with my client? How has their life/work improved as a result?
Setting the tone for a successful call
When I call a customer for our interview, I thank them for taking the time to talk with me, reiterate what our call is about and why I wanted to talk with them, let them know that our conversation is for background research, and assure them that I’ll ask permission before sharing anything with their name on it.
I also ask their permission to record the call so that I can reference it later. (I use the Rev Call Recorder app, which always makes the recording process easy and smooth.)
Capturing facts and feelings
Then, we jump into questions. As the customer talks, I take notes on what they’re saying, almost verbatim, to capture their voice and the overall vibe of the call. This allows me to understand not just the facts, but the feelings they have about my client’s brand.
The calls run 20-30 minutes, and I ask follow-up questions as we go based on how the customer responds to my questions. At the end of the call, I always ask them if they have anything else to add.
Then, I wrap up the call by reminding them that I’ll be in touch to ask them to approve their quotes, thanking them for their time, and letting them know that what they shared will be incredibly helpful to the client.
Step 3 | Putting Customer Interviews to Work
After talking with 4-6 customers for a client, I sit down with my notes and start highlighting. I look for powerful phrases; words and themes that come up repeatedly in each interview; the features and benefits they’re most excited about from working with my client; and the key desires, fears, and values that drove their decision to buy.
I also keep an eye out for potential testimonial quotes. When I find them, I email the customer to ask if we have their approval to publish the quote or if they’d like to make any changes first.
Then, I grab my highlighted interview notes, compare them with notes from my client’s Strategy Session kickoff meeting, and start incorporating this voice-of-customer information into strategic, focused website copy.
The Advantages of My Interview Process for Clients
Interviewing my clients’ customers not only allows me to write more strategic copy; it also provides immense value to my clients. Here are a few reasons my clients are so enthusiastic about these voice-of-customer interviews.
1. They get clarity on their brand
For most business owners, it’s easy to get hung up on whatever we’re most excited about in our business and forget what actually matters to our clients. By conducting customer interviews, my clients and I get an inside look at what customers truly value so they can better understand how to resonate with their ideal customers.
Through this process, my clients not only come to see their brand in a new way, but they get website copy that speaks directly to their target audience by pulling from those customer interviews.
2. They discover how to stand out
It’s good to pay attention to what other businesses in your industry are doing. But when your website copy starts to resemble your competitors’ messages, prospective customers might be confused about why they should choose you over everyone else.
Customer interviews help my clients break out of the industry-facing bubble and understand what their customers actually care about. By unpacking why these customers chose my clients over a competitor and highlighting those reasons in the website copy, my clients end up with a website that showcases their unique value and helps them stand out, even in crowded industries.
3. They walk away with more persuasive copy
When a prospective customer reads copy that truly speaks their language, they’re more likely to resonate with the message and take action.
Interviews allow my clients and I to understand their ideal customer’s voice on a deeper level than we could by simply reading reviews. We discover not only what customers say but how they say it, and then we mirror their words back to them in the website copy.
4. They build social proof
I let my clients and interviewees know upfront that these interviews are first and foremost for background research. But if a customer happens to share a perfect testimonial quote during our call — and they usually do — I’ll email them afterward with the quote to get their approval so my client can share it.
These quotes give my clients valuable pieces of social proof they can use to build trust on their website, on social media, and in other marketing materials.
5. We spend less time on revisions
My service-based clients span a wide range of trades and work with many different types of customers, and I simply can’t be an expert on all their industries. So, client interviews allow me to quickly develop deep knowledge about my clients and their customers, which saves us a lot of headaches throughout our work together.
Thanks to the time we spend upfront diving into customers’ desires, fears, and values, my clients usually request very few changes to their website copy drafts. While I still offer two rounds of revisions to make sure their copy is just the way they want it, we’re able to spend that time fine-tuning their copy instead of rewriting it.
The Keys to Making This Process Work
Enough of the right interviewees
I tell prospective clients upfront that I’ll be asking them for 4-6 past or current customers who would willing to be interviewed.
This might sound like a stretch for businesses who are just starting out or shifting to serve a different type of customer, but even my startup clients have usually beta-tested their offerings with a few people, and we can start by reaching out to those beta customers for interviews.
It’s also important that these interviewees represent my client’s ideal customer. Since we’ll base our copy on these interviews, we need to make sure we’re speaking to the right type of person.
Clients willing to make the ask
I’ve found that my clients’ customers are more likely to respond and participate in the interview process if my client first sends them a quick email introducing me and asking if they’d be willing to be interviewed.
Since it can be uncomfortable to ask customers for a favor, I’ve encouraged some clients to offer a gift or incentive, like a discount on future services, to customers who take the time to be interviewed.
I also offer clients an email script to make this part of the process as easy as possible.
Customers who care
The customers you select for interviews should be some of your raving fans — people who benefitted so much from working with you that they want to tell the world.
Usually, this isn’t a problem, since most customers won’t volunteer to be interviewed unless they have something good to say about you and your services. But every now and then, I’ll hop on an interview call only to have a customer tell me, “I guess [this business] did a good job… I don’t really remember.”
To get valuable interviews, you need a handful of customers who not only experienced a benefit from working with you but are still excited to talk about it.
The time to make it happen
I like to keep projects running on-schedule, so booking interviews before a project kicks off is a key part of that. I ask my clients to provide me with a list of potential interviewees a full two weeks before our scheduled project start date so that I have time to schedule those interviews in advance.
This means I can’t always accept clients who need to start their project right away, but it ensures a smooth process for clients who are willing to book at least two weeks out.
Using Voice-of-Customer Interviews to Write Better Website Copy
There you have it — my process for conducting in-depth interviews with my clients’ customers.
These interviews are key to writing strategic, focused copy for my clients and they often lead to valuable testimonials that my clients can use on their website, on social media, and in their other marketing materials.
And that leads me to one more thing:
I’m currently accepting new website copy projects!
I’d love to chat with you about interviewing your clients and customers.
What makes your client process unique? What are your takeaways after reading about my interview process?