Run Better Customer Interviews: Never Ask These 3 Questions

“What do our customers really want?” That’s what you want to find out.

But are you asking the right questions?

Some questions should never be asked. Never.

1. Do you think this is a good idea?

2. Would you buy this?

3. How much would you pay for this?

Why Are These Questions Bad Market Research?

There are many reasons asking these three questions won’t help you.

  1. Your customers can’t predict in the abstract if they will buy a new product, in the future
  2. The chances are they are polite people. Are you sure they’re not telling you what you want to hear?
  3. Your customers don’t make the same decisions when they’re peacefully browsing the Web on their sofa as when they are with you.
  4. They aren’t making any trade-off (money, time, reputation) when they answer your question. They’re not bound by their decisions. But this is what happens when they make choices in real life.

These reasons are all linked to one principle:

It is so far removed from the real world.

You can’t delegate market research to your customers. Asking for their opinion means that you are trying to make them do your job.

As innovators, we are investigators. We have to decide whether our ideas are good. We have to answer ourselves the questions: “Will they buy it?” “How much will they pay for it?”

Let’s avoid lazy market research. We want reliable customer insight.

What shall you do?

Observe their buying behaviour. Test the product in the real world. Learn from what happened. Improve the business model. Repeat…

[For a good customer interview method, I highly recommend Rob Fitzpatrick’s book: The Mom Test]