Here’s why you should bring designers and engineers to your customer interviews.
Conducting customer interviews on my own has presented more challenges than opportunities. Here’s why I’d never do them alone again.

It was 2016, when we had just started our startup journey.

We learned about the magic of customer interviews. Through our accelerator program, we were “kindly forced” to conduct 15 interviews a week.

(We stuck to it, but mostly generated little value. Interviews are as critical to success as they are challenging. I can say that in hindsight, but that’s another story.)

However, 15 interviews are quite a number.

Not everyone in the team had time for them. But since we wanted to stick to the plan, we sometimes went into the interviews alone and came back with what we thought were a lot of valuable insights.

And boy, were they of little value. But that’s not what matters here.

We’ve built a knowledge gap.

This was problematic. Those who weren’t there for the interviews didn’t show high approval for “the insights”. They didn’t experience the information firsthand, and thus didn’t take it as seriously.

Before I knew it, we were having discussions that never had a rewarding outcome.

When scheduling interviews today, we make sure the PM, designer and engineer all become “researchers” – and thus join the interview. Firstly, valuable perspectives from different experts come to the table. Secondly, we have a shared understanding of the problems and needs to feed into our customer profile. That’s “where the magic happens”, as Marty Cagan so beautifully puts it.

In fact, my attention was drawn to this subject matter by Marty Cagan‘s visit to Lenny’s podcast.

“I hate it when the user researchers go off and do the research themselves and bring back a report, not because they don’t know what they’re doing, they do know what they’re doing. The reason is because the report is too often ignored.

And so to me, the rule is, and I tell this to user researchers at the companies that I coach, if the product manager and the designer are not available to be there during their products test, cancel the test. They need to be there. This is what makes them useful to their team.”

Marty Cagan on Lenny’s Podcast