Part I. Ask your mother: How to communicate with customers and confirm the correctness of their business idea, if everyone lies around?

    Summaries of excellent, in my opinion, books.

    I recommend to everyone who is involved in UX research, wants to develop their product or create something new.

    The book teaches how to ask questions correctly in order to get the most useful answers.

    The book has a lot of examples of building dialogs, gives tips on how, where and when to conduct interviews. Useful information sea. In the abstract I tried to give a squeeze of the most useful.

    Some dialogs are completely transmitted, because they show very well how to and how not to ask questions in order to get the necessary answers.

    "Test for mom"

    “A test for mom is a set of simple rules that help to formulate the right questions, in response to which even your mom will not be able to lie” (c) The

    so-called italics are highlighted in italics. the message that we put in the message.

    Mom test failed 

    Son:   “Listen, mom, I had the idea of ​​a new business. Can I discuss it with you? ”
    ( I am going to open my soul to you. Please spare my feelings )

    Mom : “Yes, dear, of course” ( You are my only son, and I am ready to lie to protect you )

    Son : “Do you like your iPad? And do you use it often? ”

    Mom : “Yes” ( you prompted me this answer, and you got it )

    Son : “Would you buy an app like a cookbook for your iPad?”
    ( I ask a hypothetical question, full of optimism, and you know what I want to hear from you )

    Mom: “Hmm ...” ( Do I need another cookbook at my age ?! )

    Son : “It will cost only $ 40. It's cheaper than hardcover books ”( I will let this slurred remark pass by and continue to talk about my beautiful idea )

    Mom :“ Well, I don’t know ... ”( But do you really have to pay for applications? )

    Son :“ You will be able to share recipes with friends and use the application for the iPhone to make shopping lists. And there will be videos with the chef you love so much ”( Please just say“ Yes. ”I won’t leave you until you do this )

    Mom: “Yes, son, it sounds tempting. You're right, $ 40 is a good price. And will there be illustrations for recipes? ” ( I confirmed the validity of the price, without making an actual purchase decision, made a compliment that did not oblige me to anything, and suggested adding a feature to look interested )

    Son : “Yes, of course. Thank you, mom, you are my best! ” ( I interpreted this conversation absolutely incorrectly and accepted it as confirmation of my innocence )

    Mom : “Do you want lasagna?” ( I'm afraid, son, you have nothing to buy food for yourself. Please eat a little )

    Test for mom passed

    Son : "Hello, mom! How is your communication with the new iPad? ”

    Mom : “I literally fell in love with him! I use it every day. ”

    Son :“ And what do you usually do with it? ” ( So, we asked a general question, so we probably won’t learn anything of particular value in response to it )

    Mom : “Nothing like that ... I read the news, play Sudoku, and chat with friends. The most ordinary things. ”

    Son :“ And why did you use it for the last time? ” ( Clarification of the real picture with concrete examples, obtaining specific data )

    Mom : “As you know, my dad and I plan to go on a trip. And I was looking for possible accommodation options ”(She uses her gadget, combining business with pleasure. This did not sound in the answer to the question about “normal” use )

    Son : “Did you use some kind of application for this?” ( This question can be called suggestive, but sometimes a slight push is needed to turn the conversation into the direction we are interested in )

    Mom : “No, I was looking for information on Google. I did not know that there was some kind of application for this. What is it called? ” ( Young people use the App Store to search for applications. And mom expects you to give her a specific recommendation. And if this is true in a broad sense, then in the future, the search for a reliable sales channel other than the App Store will play a decisive role )

    Son: “And how did you find out about the other applications you use?” ( By analyzing interesting and unexpected answers, you can understand the patterns of behavior and the motives that underlie them )

    Mom : “There is a section with a weekly review of applications in the Sunday newspaper” ( Can't remember when you last opened the newspaper? But, as we see , traditional advertising tools can be beneficial in working with clients such as your mother )

    Son : “I see. And by the way, I saw that a couple of new cookbooks appeared on the shelf. Where did they come from? ” ( As a rule, there are several weaknesses in any business idea. In this case, this is both the transfer channel - the application for the iPad, and the product itself - the cookbook )

    Mom: “An ordinary Christmas present, that's all. I think this one was given to me by Marcy. I didn’t even open it. Like I, at my age, need another recipe for lasagna ?! ” ( Yeah! In this answer, we find grains of gold. As many as three: 1) older people do not need another regular collection of recipes; 2) apparently, the gift market is functioning stably; 3) perhaps young culinary specialists are a more promising segment, since they are not yet familiar with the basics of cooking )

    Son : “What was the last cookbook that you bought for yourself about?” ( In response to vague answers, such as: “I don’t buy cookbooks at all,” ask for specific examples )

    Mom: “Yes, when you asked, I remembered: about three months ago I bought a collection of recipes for vegans. Your father is trying to switch to a healthier diet, and I thought that I could make some kind of variety in vegetable dishes ”( Another grain of gold: even experienced cooks may be interested in specialized or original cookbooks )

    Continue the conversation. Turning it in the right direction, you can ask your mom about whether she was looking for recipes using the iPad and whether she watched culinary workshops on YouTube.


    The first conversation showed that this idea was no good. The second gave food for thought.
    Why? What was the difference between the second conversation and the first? Mom could not tell you a lie, because you did not talk to her about your idea. A little mysterious, right? We will find out if people are interested in what we do without even mentioning it. We are talking about themselves and their lives.

    1. Talk to them about their life, not about your idea.
    2. Ask about specific things that happened in the past, not about perspectives or opinions.
    3. Speak less, listen more

    Good and bad questions

    A list of questions to ask to get the most useful answers and questions you should forget about

    “Do you think this is a good idea?”

    Awful question! Only the market can answer if your idea is good. Everything else is nothing more than opinions.

    If your interlocutor is not a competent industry expert, you will only indulge your own weaknesses with a high risk of hearing a lie.

    It would be more correct to ask potential customers to demonstrate how they are doing this work now. Ask what they like and dislike about this job. Ask what other tools and processes they tried to apply, before they settled on what they are using now. Are they actively looking for what could be replaced? If so, what has become a stumbling block? If not, why? How do they lose money using current tools? Do they have the money to purchase more advanced tools? Then summarize all the information received and decide for yourself whether your idea is good.

    The golden rule : opinions are useless.

    “Would you buy a product that performs task X?”

    Bad question.  

    You ask for opinions and hypotheses when referring to overly optimistic people who want you to be satisfied.

    Almost always, in such cases, people answer: “Yes,” which deprives such questions of any meaning.

    That's right: ask how they are coping with task X now and how much money they spend on it. Check how long it takes. Ask them to tell you more about how problem X was last solved. If the problem still remains unresolved, ask why. Did they try to find solutions? Were these solutions not effective enough? Or didn’t they even try to google?

    The golden rule : any predictions for the future are a lie, and too optimistic.

    "How much would you pay for X?"

    Bad question.  

    Nothing is better than the previous one, and besides, the numbers are more likely to play a trick on you. Indeed, the numbers seem so truthful and reliable.

    How to fix this issue? Just like everyone else: ask about real-life things. How much does this problem cost them? How much do they pay now for her decision? What budget have they allocated for this? I hope you already noticed a certain trend.

    The golden rule : people will lie to you if they believe that you want to hear a lie. 

    “What features should your dream product have?”

    A good question, but only on condition that it will have a good continuation.

    The value of a product stems from an understanding of why customers need certain features. You do not want to limit yourself to collecting only requests for the introduction of any functionality. And you do not create the product together with its future users. However, the motivation and limitations that underlie their requests play a very important role.

    The golden rule : people know what the problems they face are, but they don’t know how to solve them.

    "Why is this bothering you?"

    Good question. Allows you to find out the motives. He explains why this is so.
    The golden rule : until you understand what the interlocutor’s goals are, you will “shoot blindly”.

    “What are the consequences of this situation?”

    Good question.  

    He draws the line between “I will pay so that these problems are resolved” and “Yes, these problems bother me, but I can very well get used to them.” Some problems have large-scale and costly consequences. Others simply exist, but do not play any significant role. It is advisable to learn to distinguish one from another. This will give you important price information that you can request.

    Golden Rule : Some problems are not actually problems.

    “Tell me in more detail what happened the last time?”

    Good question.  

    Ask your clients, as far as possible, to demonstrate the situation, and not describe it in words. The source of information for you should be their actions, not opinions.

    Seeing what is happening with your own eyes, you can better understand and analyze obscure situations. But if you cannot be in the thick of real events, you will get significant benefit by asking to talk about how the situation developed for the last time.

    A careful study of the whole algorithm of actions helps in one fell swoop to get answers to a number of questions: how did they distribute time, what tools did they use, with whom did they communicate? What limitations do they face every day and in life in general? How will your product fit into this daily routine? What tools, products, software, and tasks do you need to integrate your product with?

    The golden rule : by observing how clients cope with tasks, we see real problems and limitations, and not how they are perceived by clients. 

    “What else were you trying to do?”

    Good question.  

    What are they using now? How much do they spend on it, what do they like and dislike about it? What benefits will these updates bring and what challenges will customers face when moving to a new solution? 

    The golden rule : if potential customers did not try to find a solution to the problem themselves, they will not pay any attention to the solution proposed by you (and will not buy it). 

    “Would you pay X dollars for a product that performs task Y?”

    Bad question.  

    The fact that you include numbers in your question does not correct the situation. This question is bad for the same reason as the others - people are too optimistic about what they could do and tend to answer in such a way that you are happy.

    In addition, it is only about your idea, and not about their own lives.

    "How do you solve this problem now?"

    Good question.  

    In addition to information about the process under study, you will receive a price guide. If customers pay £ 100 per month for a temporary patch stuck with scotch tape, you know what amounts you can talk about.

    On the other hand, perhaps this year they paid £ 120,000 to the agency for supporting the site that you are proposing to replace. In this case, you are unlikely to want to talk about £ 100. Sometimes both of the situations described above arise simultaneously, and you have to choose how to properly submit yourself. Do you want to replace the web application at a price of £ 1200 per year or offer your services in exchange for an agency that receives 100 times more?

    Golden Rule: although people are rarely willing to tell you with certainty how much they will pay you, they can often show what is of value to them.

    “Who will finance the purchase?”

    Good question.  

    It is completely optional (although possible) to ask it if the client is a private individual, but for the B2B sector this question is really important.

    So you will find out from which department’s budget the purchase will be paid and who else of the company’s employees has the authority to “push through” the planned transaction. Often you have to communicate not with those people who manage the budget. Your future presentations will be completely useless until you find out who makes the decisions and what matters to him.

    You can always turn knowledge about how purchasing decisions are made into a re-sales algorithm. 

    “Who else should I talk to?”

    Good question.  

    Yes! It is this question that should be asked at the end of each conversation.

    Proper construction of the first few interview polls can be a daunting task, but having attacked an interesting topic and learned how to communicate with people correctly, you will quickly gain numerous clients who will recommend you to others.

    If someone does not want to give you a recommendation, this is also good. No need to insist. You will realize that you either messed up your communication with your own actions (for example, you behaved too formally, insincerely or intrusively), or customers are not concerned about the problem that you are proposing to solve.

    Perceive any positive remarks of these people with a high proportion of skepticism. 

    “Are there any other questions I should ask?”

    Good question.  

    As a rule, by the time the meeting ends, its participants understand what you are trying to convey to them. Since you are not an expert in their industry, they can simply sit and remain silent until you finally lose sight of something important. By asking about this, you give them a chance to politely direct your questions in the right direction. And they will do it!

    This question can be compared with a crutch - you will drop it as soon as you learn how to correctly ask questions and study the specifics of the industry.

    The Golden Rule:   People want to help you, but rarely do this unless you provide them with a good reason.


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