How to ask good questions
Never ask people if you have a “good idea.” Everyone will lie to you.
If you’re doing any kind of customer research, you should immediately stop whatever you’re doing & read The Mom Test by Rob Fitzgerald.
Read it recently, so wanted to share a few of my takeaways 👇👇👇
Why is it called The Mom Test?
The Mom Test is a way of thinking about customer research. It’s a framework that teaches you to ask questions that even your mom couldn’t lie to you about. Fitzpatrick says interviews should focus on:
Learning about their life instead of your idea
Specifics about the past rather than generics or opinions about the future
Talk less, listen more.
1. Bad customer interviews aren’t just a waste of time. They’re incredibly dangerous.
Bad customer interviews convince you that you’re on the right track. Armed with the wrong insights, you’ll build the wrong product and waste years building something that no one wants.
2. Your goal is to find the truth - not to validate your idea
Being wrong is frustrating. But each time you’re wrong, you save time and are potentially closer to figuring out the right idea.
3. Preparation matters. You get out what you put in.
Before you sit down for an interview, have a list of the 3 most important pieces of info you want to learn. If you map out a plan, you’ll ask better questions. Full stop.
4. Frame every conversation.
When you sit down with a customer, one of the first things you should do is frame the conversation. This sets the context for a productive conversation. You could start out with:
“Thanks for taking the time. I’m trying to make it easier to order X. We’re just getting started and we want to make sure we’re building something that helps Y. We’re not sure how everything works yet and as an expert I thought you might be able to help.”
5. Ask good questions.
Good questions are specific and focused. Here are some examples from the book:
How do you currently do X?
Where did you find out about Y?
Can you talk me through the last time you did Z?
What else have you tried?
How much do you currently pay to solve this?
What are the implications of that?
6. Bad questions lead to bad answers.
Bad answers stop you from building something customers love. Avoid leading questions like:
Do you ever X?
Would you ever do Y?
What do you usually do about Z?
Do you think you could...
Could you see yourself…
You want to deal in facts and how people actually behave - not hypotheticals.
7. Do not go into “pitch mode.”
Your goal is to get 100% pure, unfiltered, raw customer feedback. Talking about your idea introduces bias. If you do slip up and start talking about your idea, say, “Ah sorry. I got excited and started pitching.” And quickly move on to your next question.
8. Good research can’t singlehandedly make your company successful.
But bad research can send you on a wild goose chase and sink the ship before you’ve left the harbor. IDK Rob Fitzpatrick personally (so just writing as a fan), but I’ve learned so much from him in just a few hours and highly recommend his book.
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