Talking to users or running user interviews is the gold standard for getting accurate user feedback. But, getting feedback we can work with and trust isn't always straightforward.
What I've noticed is that, more often than not, users tend to cushion their feedback. It's not a conscious deception, but an instinctive need to not hurt feelings. And while it's appreciable, this can skew the true essence of their experience. So, how do we bypass this and get to the raw, unfiltered truth? We change our approach and, instead of asking direct questions, we tap into their stories.
The power of storytelling
The typical questions we ask during user interviews like, "Are you facing issues?", "Do you like our product?", or "How can we make this better?" can inadvertently invite polite, sugarcoated responses.
A more fruitful way is to encourage users to recount their experiences, making the interaction more of a narrative than a Q&A session. When users share their stories, it brings us closer to their reality, offering authentic, insightful, and accurate feedback.
Instead of going the conventional route, we should ask things like, "Can you share your latest experience with our product?", "How did you manage before using our product?", or "Was there a time when our product disappointed you?" This subtle shift in the way we ask questions allows users to delve into their experiences, which is a goldmine of insights.
As they narrate their stories, it becomes easy to spot areas that need more elaboration or require our attention.
Softening the "Why"
Something else I've learned over the years is that instead of posing a "why" question, try using "how come" or "tell me more about that". While it may seem insignificant, the impact it has is profound. The term "why" can come off as confrontational, creating an unnecessary tension in the conversation.
By choosing friendlier, more welcoming phrases, we can create an atmosphere of trust and comfort, making users more willing to share their genuine experiences.
In the end, we're not just looking for feedback. We're looking for stories, for experiences, for the truth of how our users interact with our products. By transforming user interviews from a Q&A session into a storytelling interaction, we gather feedback that's not just genuine and accurate, but also imbued with the richness of their personal experiences.