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How to run client interviews for web agencies

A properly established process of running client interviews is an important part of your web agency business processes. A good interview has a positive impact not only on the specific project but agency's business in general.

Client interview impacts such business parts as:

  • The success of the project
  • The reputation of web agency
  • The timeline
  • Agency-client relationship
  • The quality of the project specification
  • Sales and support processes

In this article, we will look into some of the best practices when it comes to running successful client interviews. We will also look into common mistakes that web agencies make when talking to their potential or existing clients.

Have a goal and agenda in place

Always come prepared. There is a reason why you are making an interview with your client. Otherwise, let's just not waste your and their time.

As you come to the interview, you need to have an ultimate goal in place. The sole purpose of why you are making this interview in the first place.

Once done, always reflect on your interview process and see if you have reached your goal. If not, learn what went wrong and adapt.

Another important part is having agenda for the meeting. You must be the driver of the interview and help your client to navigate through the meeting with your agenda leading the way. Don't be afraid to remind your clients to get to the topic if you feel that your meeting is going in the wrong direction. Of course, be polite and reasonable, maybe a spontaneous pivot can lead to new information that can help you out.

Right time and place

Make sure that both parties are comfortable with the interview times. You don't want anyone to rush because of another important thing on the table.

At the same time, keep a sharp timeline for your meeting which also means keeping focus and scope. If you want to have a casual conversation with your client - take them out for a business lunch. It will help you to build better relationships as an additional bonus.

Choose the place for the interview wisely and make sure you are not disturbed. Public spaces are not the best place to run client interviews as you can easily get distracted or have problems discussing sensitive data.

Do you plan to have recurring interviews with your client? Think of the frequency to avoid silence or noise. There is nothing worse than a meeting that you need to attend without a purpose.

List of attendees

Who should attend the interview? There is no reason to get all your team for the interview just to show commitment. Focus on people that can contribute to the interview, for everyone else you can have a recap.

As you discuss the user interface, your UX/UI lead should join the interview to ask questions or share their expertise. For the infrastructure, having an architect on the spot is important.

Have a plan (and data)

Have a plan and a backup plan in mind. Even if your client is sharing their thoughts on the project, he/she is willing to hear your thoughts.

Have at least an approximate plan on how you see the project going. Always have an alternative plan in mind if your client is not buying your initial idea. It will show them your expertise and ability to adapt to the changing environment.

Keep the data that can back up your ideas close. Your clients don't want to hear guestimates. Real data from industry or similar projects will help to convince them to follow your path.

Listen more (talk less)

It is called an interview for a reason - you are the one to ask questions and let your clients talk.

The reason for having an interview is to uncover the problems your clients are facing and the best way to do that is by listening.

Avoid interrupting your clients in the middle of an interview with your ideas or solutions.

Don't sell blindly

People sense bullshit so avoid making an interview your sales pitch.

Of course, you need to keep the sales component in mind and probably explain to your clients the costs of a certain solution. At the same time, it is a bad idea to offer website maintenance to the client during the interview where you discuss the initial project scope.

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Document interviews

Always document interviews or even make video recordings if possible. A well-documented interview can be analyzed later as well as delivered to the teammates who were not in the interview itself.

You can also ask your clients to fill in the survey if you feel that it can be easier for them to answer.

Be one step ahead

What information or data you may require next? Is it something you can ask your clients right away?

Thinking ahead can help you save tons of time and avoid pinging your customer every day with additional questions.

Consider the website maintenance process - how easy it will be for you to support your client after finalizing the project and what problems your clients may have.

Explain and mentor

You are a web agency and not the other way around. Your clients hired (or plan to do so) because of your expertise and their lack of experience in this field.

With that in mind, it is your responsibility to clarify things for your clients in terms of processes and terminology. Your clients may not know what is SSL or keyword density and there is nothing wrong with that.

Don't take your professional terminology for granted and question yourself if your clients know the meaning behind it.

Conclusions

Running a client interview may sound like an easy job when compared to web development or user interface design.

But, if you go wrong during the interview, it doesn't matter how good you are with the code or Figma. You may end up having a well-designed project that is not solving your client's problems.

Having strong soft skills is critical when running client interviews and has a way bigger impact on the success of the project than some may think.

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