Hi everyone, when was the last time you really spoke to a customer or stakeholder about their needs? Sure, everybody talks about getting out of the office, but how do you actually do it? Here's an interview template to make customer conversations much easier.
My ultimate goal is to have an impact. I have found the best way to do that is to create alignment between myself and my stakeholders or customers.
I use this canvas to guide my conversations with my stakeholders. It has been a game changer for me! So much, that it is now a part of Personal Agility.
The goal is to understand your stakeholder, build a rapport, and get actionable information to guide the next steps. This might be about our collaboration or a product I want to create for them.
I generally plan 60 minutes for the interview, but it can be done in as little as 30 minutes if you and the other person are focused. Whether speed or depth is more important to you, depends on the context and what you are trying to achieve.
Doing the interview
Start out with an explanation of why we are here:
As you know, we are working to do <whatever it is you want to do>. Beyond that, my goal is create an effective partnership between us, so that we can work together effectively with a minimum of frictions. I want to focus on doing great things for you and your customers. To that end, I would like to understand you, your goals and your perspective.
I have found the following questions and order to be most effective at understanding the stakeholder. Sometimes I will vary the exact formulation to suit the audience, but the flow is usually the same.
Coaching questions can be helpful to elicit better, more complete answers, e.g. "Is there anything else." or "Let me read this back to you; have I understood you correctly?" Sometimes it is helpful to vary how you formulate the question, so that it resonates better with your interview partner.
I ask the questions in the numbered order. Yes, the "What really matters question" comes almost last, though it is right next to the stakeholder info on the canvas. Often people need to go through the steps of the other questions before they can answer that question.
When I am trying to build a relationship, I also answer each question to my stakeholder, so they understands me as well. This is not about deciding anything, just about understanding. So I try to avoid debate, I just make sure that I have understood the other person.
This is one of several free tools that we offer around Personal Agility. You'll find the all at https://MyPersonalAgility.org/freetools. (For the canvas, no registration is required, just download!)