13 Open-Ended Customer Interview Questions for Product Managers
McKinsey predicts that the global SaaS market will be worth $10 trillion by 2030, which is a 233% increase from its 2022 value. This means business competition, business competition is only going to grow more fierce. And nowadays, users expect a lot out of their digital tools and can afford to be selective with so many available options.
So, how can you make sure your product attracts and retains customers in a crowded, saturated landscape? By asking about their wants and needs in 1:1 user interviews.
There are plenty of different feedback channels product managers can use to capture the evolving voice of your customer, but customer interviews are ideal for gathering in-depth, granular insights. You just can’t replicate the same kind of organic conversations and rapport-building in a survey (though they’re still valuable). Plus, with 64% of surveyed consumers saying they want brands to connect with them, you should be able to find plenty of users eager to talk with you.
Giving users this space to share their perspectives means you can get to the heart of customer behaviors, challenges, and opportunities—all key customer data points that can help you deliver a better product and overall customer experience.
Use these 13 open-ended customer interview questions as a starting point for your conversations, but don’t be afraid to go off script! No two users are exactly the same, so your interviews shouldn’t be either.
1. What Do You Think of Our Product?
This customer interview question is a great way to kick off a candid interview because it’ll give you an idea of the user’s general vibe—i.e., do they like or dislike your product overall?
From there, you can steer the conversation to dig deeper into the reasons why they feel the way they do and whether they love or hate your product. Their answers will help you create a balanced, accurate picture of customer sentiment.
2. How Can We Improve Our Product?
While it’s great to hear positive customer feedback, constructive criticism is also invaluable for understanding which new features will be worth your team’s time and resources to launch.
By having customers hone in on the areas that fall short for them, you can start to unearth repeat pain points and identify the smartest ways to solve them. With that knowledge in mind, you can move product development further in the direction that paying customers need it to go.
You can get even more granular with follow-up questions like:
- What annoys you about our product?
- What is our product missing?
- What features would you remove from our product?
3. If You Were in Charge of Our Product, What Would You Change?
Customers want to feel that they’re partners with the brands they support. This question emphasizes that kind of partnership, showing users that their input is valued and respected.
By intentionally asking customers to imagine themselves in a leadership role, you’ll find that many of them will share big-picture product ideas with you and not just one-off feature requests. This type of feedback can help you better understand the long-term needs of your target audience.
4. Now That You Have Our Product, What’s the #1 Thing You’re Able To Do That You Couldn’t Do Before?
This product validation question confirms whether your product alleviates the issues it was designed to solve—along with other ones you didn’t know were a big deal to users.
For example, while your platform’s primary purpose may have been to automate workflows for project managers, you might find that people resonate more with your tech’s ability to sync team calendars in one place.
The answers you uncover should be used to shape the product’s core value propositions along with Marketing’s product strategy. This way, your org promotes the product features that can best solve customer needs and draw them to your product.
5. How Would You Feel If You Could No Longer Use Our Product?
You can better understand the emotional drivers behind product use by getting users to acknowledge the way your product (or its absence) impacts their emotions. This question strengthens the user-brand relationship by creating greater customer empathy, and it’ll also help Marketing tailor their product messaging to resonate with prospects on a deeper level.
Strategic follow-up customer interview questions for this one include:
- What sort of issues would you run into if you stopped using our product?
- How do you feel when you use our product?
- Who do you believe can benefit the most from our product?
6. What Other Solutions Have You Considered Using Besides Our Product?
Asking this customer interview question will help you clearly identify your top competitors and why they might appeal to people in your target audience.
Be sure to ask interviewees to identify the reasons why they considered other brands. Then, you can use this knowledge to design features and products that speak to those needs and keep you at the head of the pack.
7. Why Do You Trust Our Product?
Building user trust in your brand is a key driver of customer purchasing, retention, and growth. Just take a look at these stats from Edelman’s 2021 “Trust: The New Brand Equity report”:
- People are seven times more likely to buy from brands they trust highly compared to ones they don’t trust.
- 61% of customers will recommend products from brands they trust to others.
- 57% of customers will buy new products and services from brands they trust—even if the price is higher than other brands.
However, 40% have stopped buying from “brands they love” due to a lack of trust. So, you need to know (and promote) the reasons why consumers trust your product and brand, and you also need to identify areas where you can improve to avoid customer churn.
It’s a good idea to specifically ask for customer thoughts on your product’s data privacy features. Cybersecurity is a widespread concern for tech users, and privacy tech company Truata notes that 60% of survey respondents said they’d “spend more money” with a brand they trusted with their sensitive information.
8. How Would You Describe Our Product to Someone Who Hasn’t Heard of It?
The way people speak about your product carries a lot of weight with potential customers. According to Kantar’s 2020 “Media & Me” study, recommendations from friends and family are the most trusted way to learn about products and services.
Asking this customer interview question will help you identify what your product is known for in the eyes of customers and if the way they describe your product aligns with your intended value propositions. If not, you may want to sit down with Marketing team members and discuss if there are any messaging or features that may be creating that disconnect.
You want your target audience to be on the same page as you so they can speak about your product accurately and highlight its most compelling features.
9. What Could We Do To Deliver a More Personalized Experience With Our Product?
Users want customizable products that can suit their changing needs, not products that offer a one-size-fits-all approach. Making your users feel seen as individuals, not just numbers, can boost revenue by 10% to 15%.
For instance, if you’re selling a comprehensive email marketing platform to businesses, you need to make sure that different users in your target audience—from small business owners to enterprise marketing managers—are set up to best achieve their unique goals. This can range from features like personalized pop-ups directing users to relevant resources to templates that auto-populate based on previous user input.
Deepening your understanding of how you can better personalize your product will help you deliver a positive user experience that keeps people coming back for more.
10. What Obstacles, if Any, Did You Encounter in Learning How To Use Our Product?
Making sure your users are set up for success the second they start using your product is key to retaining them and driving customer satisfaction. As noted in Wyzowl’s 2020 Customer Onboarding survey, 86% of respondents said they’d be more likely to “stay loyal” to brands that offer educational onboarding content, and 55% of users admitted to stopping product use solely because “they didn’t fully understand” it.
If most users say their onboarding experience was pretty straightforward, kudos! But if not, use their responses to develop features that eliminate those customer problems. Specific examples include creating in-app walk-throughs for different personas and use cases, adding a library of video tutorials, or building a chatbot that addresses common FAQs.
11. How Did You Discover Our Product?
If you don’t know how customers typically learn about your product, it’s easy to waste time and money promoting your product on channels that don’t actually yield a strong ROI.
This basic question will help you identify the most high-value areas where Marketing and Sales should concentrate their outreach and prospect conversion efforts.
12. What Would Make You Stop Using Our Product?
According to a Propel Software survey, 54% of customers claim they’ll stop using a product “after just one bad experience.” What a bad experience means varies from person to person, so it’s important that you get direct input from users.
By uncovering potential deal-breakers like pricing or feature changes, you can be confident that you won’t accidentally upset or drive users away with a well-intentioned pivot. What’s more, you can avoid the nightmare of having to roll back an update you sunk your blood, sweat, and tears into—just like Twitter did four days after changing its homepage in 2022.
13. Why or Why Not?
These two follow-up questions can be used throughout your discussion to draw out additional details and context from customers who may give brief or vague response.
Let’s say a customer tells you they like your product’s chatbot. You could just make a note that your chatbot got a thumbs up—or you could dig deeper and ask why they liked your chatbot. By taking it one easy step further, you can uncover specific elements that can be replicated in other features and products to boost customer satisfaction.
The same goes for someone who didn’t like your chatbot. By asking “why not,” you can identify specific points of friction that create a negative customer experience and take steps to address them.
Collect Answers to Customer Interview Questions in a Single Source of Truth
Conducting customer interviews takes time, but it’s worth it. Since adopting UserVoice, Buffer's Tom Dunn notes, “An hour of customer research can save us 10 hours of engineering time.”
However, if your juicy customer insights are disorganized or inaccessible to teams like Sales and Marketing, you’re losing a ton of their value.
Make the most of your user research by using a feedback management platform like UserVoice to collect, sort, and share customer data in one location. This way, you can make sure you’re acting on feedback that offers the greatest ROI while staying aligned across departments.
Sign up for a free UserVoice trial to discover why product teams at brands like Adobe and Amazon Alexa rely on our intuitive tool to keep customers satisfied and drive revenue.