Interviewing for Empathy

Hosting customer interviews (or conducting ethnographic research) is a critical step in the Design Thinking process. Through these exploratory interviews the Design team is able to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s spoken and unspoken needs. Deep dive interviews provide a tremendous opportunity for the Design team members to spend time with the end users and to listen to the customer’s stories about how they experience the organization’s products and services. As the team conducts interviews and engages customers in storytelling, the Design team can dive deeper into the customer’s values, beliefs, and motivations by asking appropriate follow up questions.

It is through this process of interviewing for empathy that the Design team is able to become more human-centered – gaining clarity on the customer’s specific situation, context, behaviors, needs, challenges, and goals. In the later phases of the Design process, when the team begins to think about solutions, it is the customer’s stories that will serve as the inspiration for what solutions are created.

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