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.
Do's & don'ts
- Use a gentle tone of voice
- Validate them
- Leave pauses for them to fill
- Mirror and summarize their words
- Don’t interrupt
- Use simple wording
- Ask for clarification (even when you don’t need it)
- Don’t explain anything
- Don’t negate them in any way
- They’re the experts of their own experience - let them be the expert
- Use their words and pronunciation
- Ask about time and money already spent
- Use think instead of feel
- 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?
- This indie hacker's post has more details.