Customer Discovery

Anna Asher, VP Insights & Consulting
April 18, 2023

A discovery interview is more than just a conversation

The discovery interview is a simple but powerful way to capture valuable, course-defining insights, but only if it’s approached with the intentionality and rigor it deserves.

As humans, and especially as entrepreneurs, talking with other people is often second nature. On a daily basis, we move between meetings, networking events, sales calls, and lunches with limited preparation. More often than not we just jump in and have a conversation, and in many scenarios, this approach serves us well. 

But this experience makes it easy to assume that discovery interviews can be approached in a similar way. An interview feels like just another conversation, after all. 

But an interview is more than just a conversation

When we get the opportunity to learn from our users, customers, and prospects, it’s critical to avoid the trap of approaching this discussion as another casual, ad hoc chat. 

Discovery interviews warrant a rigorous and intentional approach. Without it, an interviewer runs the risk of: 

  • Slipping into sales mode and dominating the conversation or putting the respondent on the defensive
  • Introducing unnecessary bias through the sequence, structure, or phrasing of their questions 
  • Forgetting to ask the right questions or to ask them in a way that elicits the most effective response
  • Missing the opportunity to deeply understand the problem space and the individual’s unprompted thoughts, feelings, and experiences
  • Overlooking the critical insights that can get lost in the details of what was said 

The best discovery interview is structured but feels natural. It elicits the kind of authentic, insightful response that fosters actionable empathy and fundamentally shapes the brands and products we build. This type of discovery interview requires an intentional and well-crafted approach.

In fact, there’s a science to conducting an effective discovery interview. With science comes methodology--the methodology of investigation.