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Never begin a customer interview question with this phrase

This question phrasing can lead to misleading responses.

Matt Foley
Matt Foley

There are quite a few ways to screw up asking questions in customer interviews, but by far the one that leads to the most dangerous and misleading responses is starting your questions with this phrase:

"Would you...?"

Why is this bad?

Because the answer is going to be hypothetical behavior. Human beings are pretty bad at predicting what they're going to do. They also might tell you what they think you want to hear due to something called "social desirability bias" (we'll cover that in a future post).

What to ask instead?

Try focusing on behaviors they already took. For example, "Tell me about the last time you..." or "Have you ever...?" Most of us don't change our behaviors all that much unless there is an extreme reason to change.

Matt Foley

Customer discovery expert with 20+ years of helping everyone from entrepreneurs to enterprises talk to their customers and make smarter, customer-centric decisions.