If you're getting ready to take on a large initiative like building a new SaaS product, or are in the discovery phase of creating new features and redesign, conducting user research is a must. Teams that want to gain insight into a user’s full experience of a product and uncover user pain points should be using multiple user research methods, including user interviews, which can be a game changer for your product team.
One of our favorite UXR methods is user interviews. They are attainable for almost anyone, you do not have to be a subject matter expert in order to prepare for and have a successful session. If you’re looking to improve your depth of knowledge about your target audience’s problem and uncover “jobs to be done” for your product roadmap, user interviews are for you.
While they are one of the most accessible research methods, we still strongly recommend anyone looking to hold one to prepare well and do your due diligence in research. B2B user research can be tricky, but with the right strategy and guidance, you’ll be able to hold these with ease.
Uncovering Insights Through User Interviews
The main point of holding a user interview is to uncover problems and understand pain points, it is not to pinpoint a solution or ask users what they need. One of our favorite things about this research method is that because it’s a one-on-one moderated conversation, there can be so much depth and quality that comes out of it. Unlike surveys and other UXR methods, interviews can ebb and flow based off of insights discussed between the interviewee and interviewer. It's also an extremely approachable user research method that pretty much anyone can do successfully with the right preparation.
A question to ask yourself as you prepare your user interview is to consider “what is my goal?” If your goal is to inform your product visions and user personas early on in discovery or better understand a user’s existing workflows, pain points, and jobs to be done, user interviews are a great UXR method to consider.
Sometimes when working with B2B SaaS teams we also conduct hybrid sessions that are part user interview and prototype user test when looking to move quickly toward an MVP of a new product or feature and there is some existing understanding of the product vision and key user personas. This lets us work through conceptual product design sprints to move to a validated design prototype quickly while expanding on our discovery work in parallel. Ultimately there are a lot of user research methods you can choose from and also creative ways to fit research into fast paced Agile projects.
Just as with any user research method, preparation is everything, and thankfully - user interviews have a low barrier to entry. Almost anyone can prepare well for these, and almost anyone can conduct an interview. The key is to prepare questions and sort them by themes in advance to help bring structure and drive depth to conversations that are more candid.
Related Content: Unlocking Product Potential: The Ultimate Guide to User Research
Tips for a Successful B2B SaaS User Interview
Like we said earlier, facilitating user interviews is a user research method that’s attainable to virtually anyone. There are a ton of resources out there, like this article by Nielsen Norman Group, 5 Facilitation Mistakes to Avoid During User Interviews, that help you make the most of your interview time. What’s wonderful about this method is that you don’t have to be a subject matter expert in order to have a successful interview. Taking that pressure off yourself or your team is important as long as you’re willing to take notes, research key terms and concepts, and clarify any confusion.
Come prepared with questions and a solid understanding of your target audience. You’ll likely get very familiar with their characteristics as you prepare questions and source participants, but once you know who you’re talking to, then you can dive even deeper into different subjects to base questions off of. A tricky thing about recruiting B2B SaaS participants is that they may take more manpower to recruit versus using a user testing platform like usertesting.com.
When sourcing participants, talk with your team about how many interviews you’d like to hold in order to gain a diverse perspective on who your target audience truly is. Generally, we’ve seen that teams like to start with five interviews per user persona, usually capping interviews at 20, but is dependent on your product stage and number of different user personas you need to represent.
When you’re in the interview itself, remember these things:
- Communicate your goals: When you’re kicking off an interview, try to let your participant know why you’re there so you’re both on the same page.
- Create a comfortable environment: Considering your environment is a huge piece to a successful interview. Try to eliminate distractions and reduce any excessive noise to help fulfill a smooth, focused interview. If you’re looking to observe users in their typical working environment, you can also consider Contextual Inquiry sessions as part of your user research plan.
- Record your session: Always, always ask to record the interview so that you can rewatch, take notes, pull quotes, and more meaningful moments in the conversation.
- Have someone take notes: If you can, try to have someone else take notes during the conversation, so that the person conducting the interview can be fully immersed in conversation without having to take long pauses just to jot a thought down. That said, try to limit the number of observers to maintain the feeling of 1:1 conversation so the interviewee feels comfortable speaking freely.
- Know your audience: You don’t have to be an expert in order to interview actual experts, but if you’re talking to other c-level executives, or professionals in an ultra-niche field, do your due diligence and research in advance so that you aren’t asking a majority of basic questions that can be found during a quick Google search.
Once interviews are completed and have been recorded, take the time to rewatch the videos, take notes, and look for themes and trends between users. While doing this, keep in mind your different user personas to identify any shared experiences or preferences between different personas and consistencies for each one.
After reviewing interviews and taking raw notes, our team likes to debrief together with the insights transferred into a shared Google document or presentation deck to recap initial goals, audiences interviewed, call out key themes in conversations, and identify opportunities for client’s product roadmaps. Some popular tools we love to use to improve remote collaboration and identify themes for breaking down raw notes are FigJam or Miro, adding digital post-it notes as we go. If you plan to invest in user research on a regular basis, also consider some of the newer UXR tools available like Dovetail and CoNote to help your team stay organized, have a central place to reference for research insights, and streamline your analysis process.
Reminders for a Successful B2B SaaS User Interview
- Align with stakeholders on your research goals.Know who you’re talking to. Be specific and identify your key users personas to simplify your recruitment process and strengthen the questions you prepare.
- Prepare questions in advance that are open-ended and leave room for participants to provide honest feedback. To keep a good flow, try breaking questions down into themes beforehand and run them by a colleague for good measure!
- Don’t forget, user interviews are for discovering the why, not the what. Discovering the what comes after!
- Always ask to record user interviews so you can recap and take notes.
- Interview at least 3-5 participants per user persona to diversify insights.
- Use more than one research method to gain a greater understanding of your user’s experience.
- Watch the recorded interviews and collaborate with a small group of team members to jot down notes and call out themes.
- Continue collecting feedback and conducting interviews as your product matures and grows.