May 9, 2019

How many customer interviews should I do?

narthur

I just finished my first (potential) customer interview. My SaaS product is such that it should be fairly straightforward to run the service manually to begin with and slowly transition to full automation as I go.

How many customer interviews should I do before starting the service, and how do I know when I should go ahead and start running the service to start getting feedback from real users?

  1. 6

    I would tend to go for ~0 customer interviews and ~many sales calls/meetings!

    Personally, I start to build a product when...

    • I understand the painpoint I'm solving for the customer so well that it's obvious what solution I need to build
    • I have a clear commitment from at least 2-3 customers that they will pay real money for the product
    • I know exactly what value I need to deliver for that customer to want to continue paying me

    Over the last few projects I started, that has taken me anywhere from 5-30 'customer interviews' (sales calls).

    BTW small tip for the 'testing phase' - the only feedback worth listening to is from paying users (assuming your product is a paid one).

    1. 2

      the only feedback worth listening to is from paying users
      This is a big tip. :)
      @narthur Thanks for the question.

    2. 0

      The entire field of user experience design / human computer interaction would disagree with almost all of the above. Almost every successful product built within past decade has utilized user research to get into the heads of users (their needs, their journey, etc.) and innovate. @shree , take what he said with a grain of salt, here's a good resource for you to get started with user research: https://abookapart.com/products/just-enough-research.

      That being said, I think the quality of your test plan is as equally important as the number of users you decide to interview (i recommend around 7). What are you trying to learn?

      1. 1

        @Nia, which parts do you disagree with specifically?

        I’m not knocking user research as a tool per se. Far from it. It’s just not the right tool for someone in the OP’s position.

      2. 1

        Thanks

  2. 2

    Interviewing a customer and doing customer development aren't the same thing. Customer development is about identifying the core of the problem/opportunity, understanding what motivates the potential customer/user, learning how they're solving the problem today, and getting a sense of the magnitude of the problem (among several other things.) This happens continuously, as everything you learn feeds into hypotheses you have about your solution. "Does an opportunity exist and are you a potential customer?"

    As you build, you're essentially testing bits and pieces of all your gathered hypotheses. The "customer interviews" at that point are about validating how well your solution is addressing the need of the actual paying customer. "Now that you're a customer, does this solution solve your problem?"