Problem/Solution Interview

Problem-Solution Interview

This type of interview allows for qualitative insights on pain points, perspectives and needs of potential customers. By providing a solution at the end of the interview, the proposed value proposition can be tested and adapted according to the feedback.

Problem/Solution Interviews should always be the first step in validating your business model hypotheses. The advantage of this test format is that it is quickly developed, easily executed and does not require many expenses. There is much debate whether it makes more sense to start with interviews focusing on potential problems even before generating ideas for new business models. Our experience has shown that both the interviewer and the interviewee benefit from having something tangible to discuss and give feedback on, thus we combine problem and solution interviews.


Helpful Tips


Come in well prepared: Collect the assumptions you want to test and have them in mind when conducting the interview.

Keep your questions open: You want to explore the mind of the customer, ask questions that lead to stories, personal experiences and comments.

Get to the bottom: Always ask why multiple times (up to five times if you are able to) to get to the underlying motives of their comments.

Do it yourself: Getting to talk to customers is a humbling and very insightful experience, don’t give that task away to somebody external or an intern.

Don’t do it alone: If possible, take somebody with you that can document the feedback on the spot and give a second opinion on what the customer has meant.

Niko, Belgium’s market leader for switchgear, used Problem/Solution Interviews to gain insights into the interest of consumers in smart home solutions. Walmart used interviews with customers to come up with the well-known slogan “Save Money. Live Better”.

How-To Guide


Develop an interview guideline including the main hypotheses you want to test, open questions and a presentation of your value proposition. Be diligent and review your guide with others by making test interviews.


Identify potential interviewees that fit your target customer segment and set dates for face to face interviews. Be consistent with your identified customer target, rather have fewer good interview partner than many that do not fit the customer you want to validate your hypotheses with. Ideally, go for 10-15 interviews, but already 5 interviews will give you a good first impression on how the specific target customer type ticks. The recruitment tasks generally takes the longest, so start with it as soon as possible.


Conduct the interviews. Always review the guideline after 2-3 pilot interviews to check how the guide works and to update it if necessary. Document your findings right after each interview in a predefined way and cluster the results per persona/segment.


Tools & Guides

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We have developed a guideline on how to prepare and conduct Problem/Solution interviews. Feel free to use it and adapt it according to your needs.

Problem/Solution Interview Guideline

Business Model Cycle

Do you need help with a specific project or want to learn more about how to use the Business Model Testing Cards?

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