Product managers are not expected to be experts on the business or industry the support. Product managers are not expected to be technical. Instead product managers are expected to be good listeners of problems and pain points and be able to generate a prioritized product roadmap to meet customer needs. To be able to build a product roadmap that focuses on solving customer needs, product managers need to hear from customers directly on their pain points they experience in the industry they are in and within the product itself in order to design solutions and come up with features that can be completed to continue moving forward.

How do you setup a user interview?

If you have actual users taking advantage of your product, then they have an interest in helping you make it better. Always keep that in mind and don’t be shy about reaching out to your users to try and schedule a call. If you do not have users quite yet, no worries this is when it is even more important to do interviews. Your user interviews at this time should be with industry experts in the space you plan to work in or potential users of your product that would fall in the segment you plan to go after. Reach out to these folks by using your own network, emailing, cold calling or asking around to find volunteers to share their thoughts with you.

When you setup a user interview, one thing you always need to remember is that your customer or expert is donating their time for you. As a result, be sure you prepare for the interview.

What questions should I be asking during a user interview?

One of the most classic questions to ask in a user interview for customers interacting with your product would be if they could change one thing about your product, what would it be. Based on that question you can get a range of answers and starts the flow of feedback to drive the discussion. Your goal during a user interview is to hear pain points your customer is expressing and experiencing so that you can solve those. Ask questions about their day to day workflow and how your product fits into that flow. Ask about setup and on boarding as two of the areas you need to nail as a product manager, make sure you hear about confusing parts of this flow. Ask about industry changes or anything on the horizon that the product needs to be prepared for.

The whole concept of a user interview is that sometimes customers will not volunteer their thoughts, you need to actively seek them out. So ask about the areas you are concerned about but make the interview about your customer as well. Make sure you hear and ask about what they need from your product to get more value out of it, after all the product exists for them.

What do I do after a user interview?

When your user interview completes, you need to review your questions and the answers given on those. Take time to think about the pain points they communicated and track those in a location where you can brainstorm on them. Feedback is not the same as features. You need to take feedback from a user interview and be able to generate features that solve the pain points your user communicated. To do this, you need to be sure you captured the feedback in the first place. Review the feedback with your team, brainstorm about solutions and generate features from there. Once you generate features from the feedback, close the feedback loop with your customer to let the know what you did with their feedback. Describe next steps on how you are going to track the features that were generated and if it will already be prioritized in your product roadmap, when they can expect that changes may be occurring.

User interviews are your chance to hear from the source about the reality of your product’s market acceptance. As a product manager, you should be scheduling them on a normal basis to fill any gaps in your schedule with a call to generate new ideas or learn more about how your product is being used.