Why you should skip the customer interview and go to a meet-up instead

By Ramy Khuffash

What are your customers trying to achieve with your product? What caused them to try a certain feature? What else have they tried?

Answers to questions like these will constantly be shifting, but knowing them and keeping a pulse on your customers' motivations is your competitive advantage.

Surveys, customer interviews, and trying to extract insights from your analytics data can give you the answers you need, but I'm proposing an alternative.

Hang out with customers at a local meet-up

I got this idea from a book that helps founders succeed with customer development, but the advice is just as applicable to designers.

When setting up interviews, you're asking for a big commitment. True, you can find customers that are happy to chat or use incentives for the ones that aren't, but in a lot of cases, you can get the insights you need by heading to a local meet-up and chatting with people in your market.

Casual conversations with customers lets you stay up to date on what they care about and how the market is shifting, but it also lets you quickly gain insights about specific areas you're researching.

Let’s say I’m trying to build tools to help public speakers get more speaking gigs and I bump into one at a conference. I’m not going to try set up a meeting. Instead, I’m just going to immediately transition into my most important question: “Hey, I’m curious - how did you end up getting this gig?”
Rob Fitzpatrick - The Mom Test

This same approach works just as well when you're working on improving existing user flows, trying to increase feature adoption, or a whole range of design challenges.

Say, for example, that you're working on improving the onboarding flow for an email marketing tool. Head to a local marketing meet-up and ask people when they last switched email marketing services. Why did they switch? Why did they not switch sooner? How was the switching process?

In an hour of mingling, you could learn a whole lot about what's important to the people who may very well be going through that onboarding flow you're working on.


  • The Mom Test - This is the book that inspired this article. It's all about getting customer insights in an unbiased way. Although it's not exactly targeted at designers, I'd recommend it to anyone who works in a product role.
  • Meetup.com - This is the best place to find local meet-ups around any topic. It's also worth checking out Eventbrite or Facebook.
  • The images used for this were from Unsplash: Here and here.