We are getting ready to have an in-person conversation with a very unhappy customer - essentially a user interview to uncover the reasons they want to leave. This is contingent on their account rep smoothing things over temporarily… but…

We’re meeting with them to discuss what isn’t working in the tools for them. To understand why we are losing the customer (not to save the customer)

I’d love to hear thoughts on how to change the conversation, what changes in questions, pitfalls and anything else that should be considered or changed

  • I’m voting to close this question because it belongs to Project Management
    – Danielillo
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 17:40
  • how is user interviewing a part of only project management? User experience requires we talk to users - happy or unhappy.
    – turpentyne
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 22:53
  • I think this falls into the domain of CX so I've added the tag. Nonetheless, it's unclear whether you want to avoid losing the customer or just know the reasons why you're losing the customer. Both are valid concerns, but depending on which one you need, the answer will be completely different.
    – Devin
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 0:25
  • 1
    Fair point - i edited the question to clarify that we’re trying to identify why - not to actually save the customer. We want to identify ehat within the tool is not working for them and why
    – turpentyne
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 0:37

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure what you mean by "change the conversation", but here are a few guidelines for having an exit conversation about user experience.

Do your homework ahead of the conversation.

  • Talk to support. How many times did the customer contact support? Were they able to fix the issues? Were there open tickets lingering for months or years without resolution?
  • Talk to relationship managers or account execs, if the client had any. What were the major issues? Were promises made in the sales cycle that never came to fruition?
  • What changed in your customer's circumstances? Did their company suffer a downturn? Were there changes at the executive level that caused new pressures? Try to find out through research.

Create a script and rehearse the questions as a guideline for the conversation.

  • Include stakeholders in your organization when you're putting this together. What are they curious about? What do they want to find out? Hopefully there are product and engineering leads involved. Perhaps sales as well, if promises were broken.
  • Be flexible, think semi-structured. When the customer says something that begs for more information, take your time and say something like, "Let's dig into that a little more." It's okay to inject new questions on the fly and skip ones that have been addressed.

Recognize that it might be uncomfortable for the customer to discuss some of the issues.

  • Try to keep the interview small, personnel-wise. Don't include 9 people on your side if there's one person who you're interviewing.
  • If your research reveals that they're extremely upset with a certain person or team, keep them out of the room for the interview. It might make sense for them to have a side conversation separately. Your goal is to facilitate safety and neutrality.
  • Respect the participant's time. Realize that they're busy and you're lucky they made the time to talk to you. Make the actual interview as convenient as possible for them in timing and manner.
  • Some participants may get emotional. I've had some break down and cry. You should expect that this might happen. Have tissues ready if they're in person. Give them dignity and time to compose themselves. Tears come from a place of frustration and rage, and they're normal when someone has held themselves together for too long without feeling helped and cared for.

Be genuine and human as you send them off. Thank them for their time. It's OK to apologize that things didn't work out.

Socialize the findings in a sensitive, effective way. You might need to filter out abusive language or inappropriate comments when sending them to affected individuals and teams. Make sure that the recipients are receiving the right information, the right way. You might want to do a debrief with the stakeholders who you included in formulating the interview script.

  • 1
    By ‘change the conversation,’ I just mean changing how we interact with them. I think you cover it. It essentially sounds like we’d follow usual best practices of semi-structured, but with extra caution because emotions may be involved
    – turpentyne
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 3:19
  • Good luck. I know those can be difficult. Take care of yourself afterward.
    – Izquierdo
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 20:07

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