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Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez

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Chapter 5. Get Out of the Building

After a short intro, I was able to transition [the interview] to just two people talking on the phone. People were staying far longer than the requested 10 minutes, and I was learning far more than I could have in any other format.

Nick Soman, CEO of LikeBright

Great products require deep human empathy: you can’t solve for that without talking to the customer early and often. Sitting behind a glass wall and having people do things on a computer—how realistic is that? We should be having conversations with people.

Kara DeFrias, Innovation Catalyst at Intuit

You’ve written down your hypotheses, found people to talk to, figured out what you need to learn, devised questions to get you there, and scheduled a time.

Now comes the hard part: actually doing your first interview.

I’m going to be honest: I dreaded the first few customer interviews I did.

What if I don’t learn anything useful? What if this feels like a bad first date with long, awkward silences? What if my interviewee feels like I’m wasting her time?

Thousands of interviews later, I’ve learned that you control the tone of the conversation. When you speak confidently, set expectations appropriately, and express genuine curiosity, people talk. When you close with heartfelt appreciation, you build a relationship and people are happy to talk with you again in the future. I still keep in touch with a couple dozen people I met through customer development interviews.

This chapter gives you the tools to ...

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