How should I optimize analyzing customer interviews?

Hi colleagues! We periodically conduct customer interviews (via phone / Skype / Viber etc). In order not to miss anything, we save the voice recording. After completion, it is required to deliver key moments from the interview to the rest of the team. At the same time, extra time is spent to analyze the recording to identify and record these very moments.

How do you build this process (interview and transfer of information to colleagues)? Do you have a similar problem? How do you solve it?

11 Replies

Although not probably normal per se, we created user panels to review competing products only. Although comments were recorded we also had staffers take down comments in an excel sheet. We then used software to count the number of times features/functions were mentioned by the panel, both good and bad. These features/functions were then listed in the order of intensity, which was assumed to be how often it was brought up. We then used that to score our product against the competition. This let us see which "good" features and which "bad" features were present, at a qualitative level. We also used the top 3 "good" features to construct a positioning map to see if we were sufficiently differentiated to create "space" around the brand. This was early in the process, at MVP stage, but it gave a sense of needed design changes. Some of which were quite drastic...

Chris, this is really helpful for me. Sorry, I just saw that I missed your reply. I have several follow-up questions:

  • What do you mean by "bad" features?
  • What do you mean by "space around the brand"?
  • At the MVP stage - do you mean when there is still not your own product?

How does that software work, that count the number of times feature/function was mentioned? Some natural language processing?

Hey there,

Transcribing interview recordings is time-consuming (no way around that), but definitely worth it. I usually follow these steps:

  1. Conduct interview and record
  2. Immediately after interview, capture any key moments on a spreadsheet 
  3. Share with team via Slack or feature card
  4. Transcribe recorded interview (there are services you can use, but it can get pricey)
  5. Add any new insights discovered from the recording into the spreadsheet (from step 2)
  6. Share the complete spreadsheet that highlights all insights to the team again 
  7. You can share either by adding the spreadsheet link to a feature card or share it via email

I hope that helps.

Hey, Claudia! Thank you for your detailed answer. Actually the interview process itself in our and your case is very similar. Several follow-up questions:

  • How long usually lasts your interview? Do you capture any notes in the process?
  • How do you transcribe the interview? Manually or using any service? How much time do you usually need to transcribe?
  • On the step 2 - you capture the key moments just from your memory?
  • What is the "feature card"?
  • Why do you use spreadsheet instead of just document? Do you use any template for this spreadsheet?

Thanks in advance for your answers!!!

p.s. sorry if I am too curious)))

  1. People are very busy so I try to keep the interviews short between 15-20 minutes and I do take notes.
  2. I prefer to transcribe manually as I’ve found that I learn more from listening to them myself. But if you are transcribing a lot of interviews (3+) you can try these services:
  3. Free: YouTube transcripts (not always reliable)
  4. Paid services: Descript, Temi or Trint
  5. From my step 2 - the key moments are from the notes I take. I try to only write down what stands out so I can keep the conversation moving smoothly.
  6. Feature cards are also called ‘user stories’ or ’tasks’. They are basically a place where you put work you need to get done. Every team organizes work differently - the main point here is that you put information in a place where the entire team can access.
  7. When I’m transcribing, I use a regular document - But to capture and highlight key insights, I’ve found that a spreadsheet helps visualize patterns better. Here is an example of a common layout I use. In the layout below, I would only add key information and then highlight common themes. I haven’t found a template that works for me yet.

Claudia, thank you for the detailed answer. Actually it is about much wider situations set. When I have some business conversation call (it maybe not just customer interview, but dialog with teammate, niche expert etc) I often face the following problem:

During the call I find that I heard a bit of really important information. But I`m not recording the talk and for various reasons I have no opportunity to take note immediately. As a result tons of valuable info is just lost forever))).

So maybe you face the similar problem in your practice? If so, please tell me how to do you handle them. Or maybe you just have some ideas how can I handle them.

Hey there again. I can't say I ever feel that I'm ever going to lose valuable information 'forever'. I personally carry a small notepad wherever I go for this exact reason. You just have to find a system that works for you. Good luck!

As for me note taking is too attention-sucking, involving cognitive overhead. After some research I found, that I need the following solution. It should be some app for call recording (also supporting messenger calls). When I start a call, I see a big cue button and can mark important parts of the conversation. Thus when I will get back to the record analysis, I will easily find the key moments I need to capture for further analysis and sharing with my colleagues. 

What do you think about that? Maybe you have seen or used the similar solutions? Maybe you have any suggestions on what should be added?

Hey there!

I have used call recording, and I have also used this technique: bring someone else along whose entire job is to take notes for you while you carry on the conversation. It doesn't have to be weird either, introduce them right off the bat. "Hey by the way, this is Joe. Joe is on this call with us to make sure I don't miss any important information that you share, and to allow me to focus 100% on our conversation and not on writing everything down."

Chris, thank you for sharing! If you take record, what do you use to process it afterwards? How much time does it usually take?

I hear what you're saying about note taking drawing your attention away from the call.

One thing I do to remember an important spot in an interview is I'll write down the timestamp. I use Audio Hijack Pro and FaceTime on my mac to record the interviews, and so I see the current time as it's recording.

If it's helpful, I wrote up an article about that setup, and also, the importance of asking questions that draw out the right insights from your interviews, so the interviews contain tidbits that the rest of the team will want listen for. In particular, the kind of interview I recommend is to conduct purchase story interviews. Makes for good stories afterward.

Hope that helps.