Do's and don'ts, Validating Statements & Process related questions to get people talking

When you're getting started out with customer research it can be difficult to get people to open up to speak about their experiences.

This post has a set of do's & don'ts, validating statements & questions taken directly from Michele Hansen's amazing book, Deploy Empathy. It'll guide you to being an effective customer researcher.

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If you find it useful, please consider purchasing her book

Do's & don'ts

  1. Use a gentle tone of voice
  2. Validate them
  3. Leave pauses for them to fill
  4. Mirror and summarize their words
  5. Don’t interrupt
  6. Use simple wording
  7. Ask for clarification (even when you don’t need it)
  8. Don’t explain anything
  9. Don’t negate them in any way
  10. They’re the experts of their own experience - let them be the expert
  11. Use their words and pronunciation
  12. Ask about time and money already spent
  13. Use think instead of feel

Validating statements

  • That makes sense.
  • I can see why you’d do it that way.
  • I can see what you’re saying.
  • It makes sense that you think that.
  • It makes sense that you do it that way.
  • It sounds like a lot goes into that.

Questions to ask around the emotional dimension

  • It sounds like that’s frustrating/time-consuming/challenging.
  • Can you help me understand what went through your mind when [X]?

Process related questions

  • I’m interested to hear more about how you came to doing it that way.
  • Would you be able to walk me through the context behind that?
  • It sounds like you think that could be improved.
  • Can you tell me more about [X]?
  • It sounds like there are several steps involved. I’m curious, can you walk me through them?

More references

  • This indie hacker's post has more details.