Let’s face it, nobody likes taking surveys over the phone. They’re terribly boring and rigid, they seem to take forever, and they often don’t allow you to provide valuable context for the responses you’re giving. More often than not, you’re forced into providing nothing more than a “yes” or “no” answer or a number from one-to-five to summarize all of your thoughts. Increasingly nowadays, such surveys are being conducted by robots (or might as well be).
At Clozd, we like to approach our conversations a bit differently. We briefly described the importance of flexibility in a previous blog post, emphasizing our commitment to having all of our interviews feel like just that — an interview. We believe context is everything, and providing an opportunity for participants to make their voices heard, for them to tell the full story behind why the decision was made, gives our clients the tools they need to get the most out of their win-loss feedback.
After conducting thousands of interviews with our clients’ won, lost, and churned accounts, we’ve developed strategies to allow participants to provide feedback in a way that strikes the right balance between structure and flexibility:
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, simply asking, “What happened?” gives the participant an opportunity to tell the story in their own words: why they were evaluating a solution in the first place, what decision was made, and which factors contributed most to that decision. You can learn a lot from these initial comments — if it was a decision largely driven by pricing, they’ll focus on this early. If the sales team made a big mistake that cost them business, interviewees will tell the story right away. Listening to the open-ended recollection of what happened early on provides important clues and allows the interviewer to mentally prepare to focus on the most important topics throughout the rest of the conversation.
An interview guide can provide important structure to a conversation, but your participant’s time is valuable, and so is yours. If the participant has made it clear early on that pricing wasn’t a major factor to the decision, exploring the ins and outs of the pricing structure and how it fits their business often results in surface-level feedback. That is time wasted that could have been spent learning more about other topics (product capabilities, for example) that were key decision drivers. While it’s important to take a general pulse on the participant’s perspective on major topics in the interview guide, save the more detailed questions for another interview with someone who has a clear perspective and lots of information to share on those topics.
One of the common frustrations of participating in a phone survey is a lack of opportunity to expand on your answers. The surveyor can record your responses, but without additional context, analysts on the other end may be left without the right level of insight to know what this information means. Interviews provide a great opportunity to follow up on questions and hear why an answer was given. This two-way dialogue frees interviewers to ask probing and clarifying questions to be as sure as possible that they understand the subject’s scenario and the feedback they are receiving.
At Clozd, our skilled interviewers have developed a methodology to gather the information that is most important to our clients and to be flexible enough in the process to get the critical context and allow participants to tell their story in their own words. To learn more about the Clozd approach to conducting interviews, check out our Win-Loss Guide.