To create and build supportive client/customer relationships, you need to know what your users find relatable and helpful. But how do you turn the needs of hundreds or thousands of users into meaningful solutions? One practical approach is to develop a few key user personas: reliable and realistic representations of your target audiences.
Many research methods help create useful personas. But going directly to the source and interviewing your audiences can shape your approach in ways that group or quantitative research can’t. Through one-on-one interviews, you’ll learn specific current needs that your offerings can solve, so that you can better serve your key users. Best of all, asking real people what they want will foster and sustain relationships.
If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re not alone. Conducting successful interviews is truly a honed skill. To help you start the process, below are some suggestions for who to interview and what to ask.
1. Who should I interview?
Think of your personas as snapshots of your top three audiences. At a minimum, collect five contacts from within three different relationships:
- Most enduring
- Recently lost
- Recently earned
Interviewing each of these audiences can reveal details such as:
- What disrupts their content experiences?
- What messaging attracts them as new users?
- Why do your users return for what they need?
Their input can clarify if your content is findable, understandable, and actionable for the audiences you want to earn and keep.
2. What should I ask?
Personas connect your products and services with users whose needs you can solve. As a result, you should aim to capture these critical insights:
- What tasks they need to achieve and how you can help them achieve these tasks
- What content they are currently seeking to improve their job performance
- Where they find useful content and how you can be their resource
Bear in mind that personas are about people, not just roles. They are about behaviors, not just job descriptions. Your goal is to understand motivations so you can earn and maintain trust. Your questions may include:
- What are you trying to achieve in your role?
- What skills and knowledge do you need to succeed?
- What are your biggest challenges currently?
- What are you responsible for creating or delivering?
- How are you measured on your success?
- What goals are you trying to reach?
- How can we help you be a better (advisor, attorney, etc.)?
- What terms do you search to find new information for your job?
- Which publications, blogs, or sites do you reference most?
- What associations and social networks do you participate in?
- When do you most like to receive content that can help you at your job?
Now, go be brave. Gather those names and numbers. Develop questions that show you care, and respectfully develop your company’s personas using interviews. If you still feel hesitant, remember: The more you know about your audiences’ needs, the more you can help them.