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Deploy Empathy

A practical guide to interviewing customers

5 grab-and-go customer interview scripts

Templates for recruiting people to talk to you

Dozens of phrases and specific words to use

Start interviewing customers with confidence

Get unstuck, know what to build, and how to sell it

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Deploy Empathy

“This book prompted me to have my first customer call, and I learned so much! I found myself wanting to insert my own thoughts and opinions so many times—I didn’t realize how often I did that until I consciously held back. But I did hold back, and it resulted in my customer opening up a whole lot more. Mirroring and summarizing is also such a power move. This book has been so helpful already, and this is only the beginning”

Your time is too valuable to spend it creating things people don’t want. 
As counterintuitive as it may seem, talking to people can save you months or years of frustrating, fruitless effort.

A spreadsheet of data will tell you what is going on, but it will never tell you why. Only people can tell you why. 
To help you take the guesswork out of what to build, this book will teach you how to deploy empathy in a specific, targeted, structured way to pull opportunities out of customers that you and your competitors maybe didn’t even realize were there. People will tell you things—useful, actionable things—that you never would have found otherwise.
Even if you have never interviewed customers before.
Even if your company doesn’t exist yet. 
Even if your company has been around for decades.

Even if you don't think you have time to interview them and only talk to them in customer support or sales settings.
The skills you will learn can be used with potential customers, former customers, current customers, clients, stakeholders, people you advise, and even in your personal life.
You will walk away from this book with a toolbox of repeatable processes that will allow you to find opportunities and moments of unexpected insight time and time again. 

“I hate wasting time and writing code that never gets used. The only way I've found to truly avoid that when building my SaaS apps is to talk to the people I'd love to have use them. Michele's book takes the anxiety out of having these conversations so you can get honest thoughts about what you're trying to accomplish.”

About The Author

I'm co-founder of Geocodio, a successful indie SaaS. I'm also the co-host of the  Software Social podcast and a mentor through Earnest Capital.

People often ask me how we’ve been able to build a successful small software business without external funding, and the secret is that listening to customers is embedded into everything we do. It is the cornerstone, foundation, and pillars of how we make decisions.

Hearing that, people often want to learn how to interview customers themselves. I would find myself typing out long emails that were a mix of chapters of books, podcasts, blog posts, most of which were written for UX people and weren't entirely relevant to founders and would-be founders building and growing companies. I didn’t feel like I had one solid place to send them. (As you’ll learn in this book, repeated manual work is a symptom of pain that can be solved by a product.) I needed a resource that presumed no previous experience with customer research and was also biased toward action. 

Deploy Empathy is intended to be that book. It is the product of my own years of interviewing customers, potential customers, and former customers. 

I have refined the tactics and scripts in this book over thousands of interviews. I have used them with everyone from 18 year old college students creating a map for a semester project, to executives entering a new market, to 90 year old men who consult actuarial tables to see if they will leave enough money for their spouse if they die first. 

But it took me a long time to realize the value that can come from listening to customers and to do so in a way that leads to results, and I try to keep that in mind whenever I'm talking about this. 

If you're new to this, you may not believe me until you start seeing the results and having those “aha!” moments of learning for yourself. I recognize that interviewing customers and integrating them into your decision-making is a mental leap for a lot of people. 

I accept your doubt and welcome it.

“I cannot wait for the book to arrive. The printouts I made of the newsletter are now full of highlights and my notes. The newsletters have been extremely valuable when preparing to talk to both existing customers of my current app and potential users of a new thing I'm working on. Michele's writing has helped me enter interviews with much more confidence and focus on really listening.”

Table of Contents

What's inside the book?

  • 1. Google Drive + Notion Toolboxes
  • 2. Introduction
  • 3. Using this book
  • 4. New to Interviewing Customers? Start Here!
  • 5. How to Talk So People Will Talk
  • 6. When Should You Do Research?
  • 7. Recruiting Participants
  • 8. Tips, Tricks, and Pointers for Every Interview
  • 9. Scripts and Templates
  • 10. The Reaching for the Door Question
  • 11. How to Ask People How Much They Would Pay
  • 12. Debugging Interviews
  • 13. Customer Support as Customer Research
  • 14. Analyzing Interviews
  • 15. Pulling It All Together: Sample Interview
  • 16. What Now?
  • 17. Further Resources


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