When you are interviewing a customer, are you really getting the information you need or are you just shooting the breeze?
Of course you want to establish rapport with customers during an interview for a case study or other marketing project. And you want customers to feel comfortable in sharing their feedback or information for publication.
But sometimes small talk and an informal conversational style can take the interview off-track, where you are just chatting, not getting the most useful answers to your questions. You also risk running out of time, meaning some questions may not be asked at all.
If you have a engaged a writer for the project (especially an external freelance writer), consider letting that writer lead the interview. You will likely find the interview is more effective. Why? Because the writer will be very focused on asking all of the questions and getting the best and most complete information possible in the time allowed.
As a marcom manager, product manager, or other subject expert, you can help the writer during the interview by addressing any customer concerns, asking appropriate follow-on questions, and opening and closing the conversation. I certainly welcome the participation of someone from the client side when I am interviewing their customers, and your freelance writers should too.
Just remember that your role in an interview will be more helpful if you are an active listener and you let the writer--and especially the customer--be the active talkers.
Next post: Interviews Part 2: Are your questions asking or leading?