Conducting customer research is an integral part of many customer-facing roles, including customer marketing. A lot of this research means talking to customers directly, conducting surveys, putting together focus groups, and more.
Each of these types of data collection relies on you asking the right questions in order to get the information you need to know.
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This course provides the most systematic approach to creating deep connections with your customers, implementing insights to drive growth and revenue, and enacting company-wide change.
Preparing questions for surveys and interviews
When preparing for your surveys and interviews, it’s critical that you are asking the right questions. To do this, you should structure your questions to get the most direct answers to your desired insights. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple and ask as few questions as possible.
- For surveys, this ensures they complete the survey without leaving, and prevents “survey fatigue.”
- For interviews, this ensures you can go deep into the issues you really care about, before you run out of time.
Guidelines for creating good customer research questions
Here are some guidelines to keep questions focused and direct to maximize your customers’ time:
Relevance to your goal
First, questions should be relevant to your goal.
Don’t ask irrelevant questions that aren’t directly tied to the answers you need. Every question should relate to your desired insight that you intend to act on. For example, let’s say your desired insight is “to understand the types of decisions customers need to make using your product”
An example of a weak question would be: “What tools and software do you use today?” The issue with this question is that it is irrelevant to your insight goals, because it is too broad.
A stronger question would be: “What tools and information do you use to make decisions?” It’s stronger because it is broad enough to position the bigger picture, but still tied directly to insights goals.
Address the unknown
Next, questions should fill gaps in unknown information.
Don’t ask questions that you can get answered elsewhere, like your CRM or LinkedIn.
An example of a weak question would be: “What is your job title?” The issue with this question is that it aims to capture information that is already known - you can get this info elsewhere.
A stronger question would be: “What are the most important decisions you make in your role?” This information is likely not available elsewhere and is therefore worth asking.
Questions should also be unbiased.
Don’t ask questions that are leading towards the answer you expect.
An example of a weak question would be: “How does our product help you make better decisions about marketing spend?” The issue with this question is that it is biased, because you are assuming your product helps them make decisions about marketing spend.
A stronger question would be: “How does our product help you make decisions?”
This is better because it stays broader and gives the respondent more freedom in providing information you might not have uncovered otherwise.
The best questions are also open-ended.
Keep questions open-ended to allow for more novel insights. Yes or no questions are often leading and do not result in unique insights you may not have expected.
An example of a weak question would be: “Could we fix our product to help you make better decisions?” The issue with this question is that it is not open-ended, and leads to “yes” or “no” answer
A stronger question would be: “How could our product help you make better decisions?”
Lead to unique answers
Finally, questions should lead to unique answers.
Don’t ask two questions that result in the same insight. Scale questions from broad to specific to drill deep into the areas you want to explore, without getting repetitive.
An example of a weak question would be: “What type of decisions do you make using our product?” The issue with this question is that it is duplicative and results in the same insights as “How does our product help you make decisions?”
A stronger question would be: “How would you feel if you could not use our product to help make the decision you previously mentioned?” This expands on previously asked questions but provides deeper insight.
When it comes to marketing using the Voice of the Customer, the first step in creating such a program is collecting feedback and aggregating it across the channels where customers are giving it.
In this article, we learned about some of the good and bad ways to ask questions when collecting. In the partner article Lauren Culbertson covers:
- The types of feedback categories,
- The differences between transactional and in-depth feedback,
- How to determine if you have enough feedback for your process, and
- How you can go about collecting additional feedback.