In my previous blog, I told you how to map a customer journey in 10 steps to improve your internal service delivery. This will ensure that your service delivery is optimized based on your customers’ actual perceptions and experiences, instead of on unproven assumptions. An undeniable key part of a successful Customer Journey mapping is the qualitative interview with your users. But how do you make these interviews count?

The good news is, working in Service Management, interviews with staff members are often easy to set up. After all, they work at the same office building as you and are often willing to share how they’ve experienced your services. To make sure you maximize this potential, here are 9 tips to help you make the most of these interviews.

Preparing the interview

We have all walked away from conversations thinking ‘Oh right, I forgot to ask that one important thing!’ It can be a little awkward to then have to approach the person again. To make optimal use of your customer’s time, make sure that you prepare properly.

1. Select a number of candidates

Based on your objective and target audience, select which people you’d like to interview. Is your customer journey focused on new employees? Then select staff members who have started work in the past three months. Also make sure that you select various types of people within that established target audience, such as new staff members who have plenty of previous experience and new staff members who are just starting out in the field.

2. Take stock of all touch points and communication channels yourself

During the interview, ask your customers which communication channels they use when they have a question or run into a problem. They will probably mention obvious ones such as email and telephone, but there are also less obvious channels that your customers may not think of, but probably do use. For example, do they ever search for information on your intranet, or ask a skilled co-worker? Prepare a list of all possible communication channels and moments of contact to ask them about during the interview.

Here’s a blog we wrote to make sure you identify all possible touch points

3. Prepare your questions

It’s important for you to figure out what you want to ask during the interview beforehand. However, don’t use this list of questions as a kind of set script during the interview; simply use it as a guideline to make sure that you don’t accidentally skip over part of the journey.

4. Record your interview

Make sure that you can record the interview, for example by using your smartphone. This enables you to play it back, and also means that you don’t have to take very elaborate notes, meaning you can focus on the interview itself.

During the interview

The interview starts… How do you make sure that it goes smoothly and effectively?

5. Tell the customer why you're interviewing them

Sometimes, customers can be reluctant to criticize their co-workers. Therefore, make sure to put them at ease and explain that you are interviewing them simply because you want to improve your service delivery. Let them know that you are looking for feedback, either positive or negative.

6. Ask the about the objective of their customer journey

Each customer journey starts with an objective that your customer wants to achieve, and ends when they’ve reached that goal. Find out what that goal is. For someone whose Outlook has just crashed, the objective isn’t necessarily ‘I want Outlook to be up and running again’. Instead, it may be something like ‘I want to be able to send a file to an important customer before 5 pm’. For a co-worker who has just started that week, the objective may be ‘I want to be fully functional for my new employer as soon as possible’.

7. Have them elaborate on one particular customer journey in great detail

You want to have as complete an overview as possible of everything your customer has done to reach their goal. How do you go about finding out everything they have done? Ask for an example, and then have them elaborate on that example in great detail. ‘What was the first thing you did when you saw the error message? What did you do after that? Why did you do that?’ Ask open-ended questions and try not to direct the customer’s answers. Try to figure out the very start of their journey (which probably occurred before they ever logged a call) and the moment they had achieved their goal (this doesn’t always coincide with them completing the call).7. Have them elaborate on one particular customer journey in great detail

8. Ask them about their experience throughout the customer journey

You don’t just want to ask the customer about their actions, but also about how they felt at the time. Which emotions did they experience during the good and bad moments throughout their journey? What was the journey’s peak moment (whether positive or negative)? And how would they grade the various good and bad moments? Also ask them to award an overall score. Even if they name more positive than negative moments, that doesn’t necessarily mean they had a positive overall experience. Finally, ask them about their expectations. At which moments did things not meet their expectations? Say your customer had to wait three weeks for their laptop to get fixed – did they feel that this was too long a wait? If so, what would they consider to be a more realistic waiting period?

9. Explain to them what you will be using this interview for, and then follow through

You now have all of the information you need. How do you wrap up the conversation? First, ask the customer whether there is anything else they want to share. Then explain to them what you’ll be using the results of the interview for. You could share the final customer journey with them, for instance. Also explain what you will not be using the interview for. For example, you most like heard some points for improvement for your team during the interview, which you won’t implement right away. Make sure the customer knows that, so that you don’t end up creating expectations that you won’t end up meeting.

Make sure you're ready to act on your insights

Getting the information is one thing, but acting on it can be quite difficult. Get a grip on where to focus your efforts to become a truly customer-centric Service Department with our Customer Centricity E-book.