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A Quick Guide To Asking Good Customer Questions

Kavi Guppta

Good customer interviews are a cheap and fast way to kick off the search and design of your Value Proposition. But how do you ask your customers the right questions to collect the best facts? It’s a question our community has asked us frequently, so in this post I’ve compiled a few best practice suggestions for you to come back to in one handy blog post.

Familiarize yourself with some ground rules.

There are 8 ground rules we provide to help you and your team conduct solid customer interviews. I’ll quickly highlight the 8 rules here because they'll come in handy later on in this post:

  1. Adopt a beginner’s mindset

  2. Listen more than you talk

  3. Get facts not opinions

  4. Ask “why” to get real motivations

  5. Remember: the goal is to learn, not sell

  6. Don’t mention solutions too early

  7. Follow up

  8. Always open doors at the end

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Let's look at some concrete tips for designing good customer questions.

I've pulled some great, quick examples from co-founder Alex Osterwalder's Q&A sessions on Value Proposition Design.

Frame the conversation around your customers’ jobs, pains, and gains.

It’s really important that you don’t start with your solution or value proposition in mind (#6 from the ground rules above). Keep your value proposition in the back of your mind, and focus on the jobs, pains, and gains of your customers. This will allow you to remove your bias from the conversation; and instead, focus on what interests your customers.

Use the Value Proposition Canvas as the basis for designing interview questions.

The Value Proposition Canvas is a useful and powerful tool that can be used before, during, and after your customer interviews.

Before you conduct interviews, use the Value Proposition Canvas to design questions that are specific to the jobs, pains, and gains of your customers (as mentioned above).

During the interviews, use the Value Proposition Canvas for note taking. Write down what you’re hearing when it comes to jobs, pains, and gains directly onto the right hand side of the Canvas.  

After the interview, you can use the Value Map on the left hand side of the Canvas to plot out potential products or services, pain relievers, and gain creators. 

Remember: Interviews are just a start.

It's always important to complement your interviews with quick and cheap experiments to gather concrete evidence. This will allow you to truly observe the difference between what customers say and what customers do. Here are some links to help you create focused experiments:

How else can we help you to better connect with your customers? Let us know in the comments! 

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