Answer these questions to collect deep customer insight
The best way to start asking questions is by coming up with a statement that mentions both your customers and the problems.
The statement I like to use is, "I believe that customer X has problem Y."
By putting it into this statement, you can very quickly formulate key assumptions that you have around this statement, and then put together an interview script that you can go out and test on your actual audience or target market.
Overall what you need to keep in mind when you start asking questions is your key assumptions around the statement. You can turn these into three questions that you should keep on your mind every time you come across your target segment.
Know what you want to ask
So once you've come up with your statement, there are a few assumptions that you might have around the statement. These assumptions you can turn into questions that you can then ask your audience.
Ask about your users life
Ask about some of their behaviours, the characteristics and daily routine in their lives, whether it's at work or at home depending on your idea, get a good thorough understanding of who your target market is.
Ask specific questions
These are questions you may ask about past or present activities. If you're looking to validate a specific problem, start the question by asking, “Talk me through the last time you experienced x. When was the last time you experienced x? How did you deal with x?” By asking specific questions, you will gain a deeper understanding around the behaviour and the processes.
Understand any blockages you may encounter while making a sale to your customer. Within other companies, specifically large corporates there's a certain level of hierarchy. By understanding the level of hierarchy and understanding people's limitations, and budgets you can very quickly alter your solution and alter your sales process to match that of your customer's.
A great example to understand blockages is the case of luxury sport's cars. They've got a fantastic process, a sales process where they build desire in men. Men are the key buyers of luxury sport's cars, and often have that desire to own one from a young age.
Every step of the way, the sales process will focus on the desire of men and to try to get them into the actual shop. After a few test drives, and after a few face to face interactions with the sales person, the sales person will not focus on the man anymore. The sales person will actually focus on the spouse. Now, they do this because the spouse is often the financial controller of the household. This means that although the man wants that sports car, the matter is now justifying their purchasing decision to the spouse.
Understanding this process enables the sales person to be much more effective in their closing strategies. So when you go out and you start talking and interviewing some of your customer segments, you really want to understand who makes financial decisions.
Another good way to think about blockages and identify them is by thinking about your target audience as customers and users.
Great example of this is in the case of Skype. Skype has freemium users who pay zero dollars and use their software for free on a daily basis. On the other hand they have customers, who actually pay a monthly subscription fee to use these services.
Another example is Google. Google has free users that use their software, and also paying customers. These are advertisers that look to gain data and create a more effective marketing experiences and pay for that access.
In the case of free users, they have access to all the software and mobile phone applications that Google creates, but in exchange pay for it with their data. Now, access to that data is then purchased by advertisers and marketing companies who directly pay Google for these services. There's an exchange allows them to create more effective marketing experience and better targeted marketing campaigns.
Asking the right questions is one of the best strategies you can use to knowing your users/ customers and, consequently, to create a great product or service.
Remember to start from creating a problem statement that mentions you customer and the problem. From this, you could prepare a good interview for your audience.