In our quests to get the right message out, we are trying to understand those we are targeting better. We use different strategies to get information that will help us do that.
When we turn to our (potential) customers for information it can get dangerous. And often it goes wrong.
It might seem like the right thing to do, asking your potential customer what they want. After all, it’s them we are targeting. Going to the source is the best way to get the right information. Or so we think.
In theory, this is correct. In practice, this often goes wrong, because of the way we ask the questions.
I’ve seen many surveys and client sessions fail because the wrong questions got asked. They are biased questions. Even though in some cases they might not seem so.
The way you ask the question influences the way people answer. Let me give you an (offline) example: asking kids a question.
If you have children in the age of my kids, 7, 9 and 11, you will recognize this. Some questions won’t get you a satisfying answer.
When you ask your kids “Did you have fun at school”, most of the time they will answer with a simple yes or no. If you then ask “Why”, the response will still be unsatisfying. They will answer something like “just because..” And then go silent again. A question like “How was school” will get you an answer in the lines of “OK”.
This can be a frustrating process.
But there is a different way.
When instead of “How was school”, you ask “Tell me about school”, the answers will change. Often the kids will start talking. They will tell you not just what happened, but also how they feel about it. I’ve seen many cases of this happening, not just with my own children.
When researching your customer’s needs, similar things can happen.
Often you will ask questions that will lead to a specific answer.
Asking the question “Do you like this product?” will often lead to the answer “yes”. You are pushing towards a specific answer here. It’s a closed question that will not lead to the right information. The same goes for questions like “How do you like our product?”. The answer there will be “fine” or “ok”, or similar.
Asking your customers to tell you about the product will give you much more valuable information. So instead of asking “How do you like our product?”, try asking “Tell me about this product”.
The information you will get will be 100x more valuable.