Improve client interviews by asking open-ended questions



Business Benefits

Get the best value from your customer interviews and client meetings.

Transform closed-ended questions into open-ended questions.

  • Do you have any questions? to What questions can I answer for you now?
  • Does that make sense? to I know I just shared a lot of information with you in this past sequence. I’m going to pause now and allow you to react. What is your reaction to what I just shared?

Ask the person to elaborate if you cannot transform the closed-ended question.

For example, Did you find value in this process? If so, please explain further. If not, tell us how we can improve.

Design the open-ended questions to identify a specific problem and the solution behind it.

For example:

  • What is stopping you from completing your purchase today?
  • What task are you looking to accomplish on our website today?
  • How can we improve our website to ensure you can complete your task?

Ask open-ended questions related to your business and strategy objectives.

  • Only ask neutral, objective questions.
  • Use them to find hidden opportunities to innovate.
  • Use them to design A/B tests and experiments, sites and landing pages, or actual products.

Ask short open-ended questions taking the 5Ws and H structure (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?).

  • Sort and prioritize your questions.
  • Cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness. Give up pre-existing desires and expectations and be receptive to new possibilities, accepting what is a fact. Let things unfold in their own time.

Use open ended questions in in-person client meetings.

For example:

  • What are the top priorities in your business at the moment?
  • What are some of the best decisions you’ve made related to ____________?
  • How are you feeling about your current situation related to _____________?
  • If we were meeting 5 (10, 20) years from today, what must happen for you to feel good about your situation related to ___________?
  • What opportunities do you see on your horizon?
  • What challenges do you see in making this happen?
  • If we were to work together on this, what are the top two or three outcomes you’d like to see?
  • How will you be measuring our success related to these outcomes?
  • What’s the biggest risk for you to not make progress on this situation?

Use open ended questions in customer interviews.

For example:

  • What do you think of this product?
  • What is the one thing I should do to make things better for you?
  • What should we stop doing?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • Why and why not? (always helpful for elaboration)
  • What annoys you about this product the most?
  • How does or doesn’t this product solve problem X for you?

Use open-ended questions when planning preliminary tests or doing early-stage customer and product development.

Prioritize product features and experiments. Do it even when access to large data sets is available for quantitative behavioral analysis.

Use open-ended questions to get richer data in one-on-one usability testing.

Use them also in screening questionnaires, when recruiting participants for a usability study. Use them for qualitative research too, to derive valid information from few users.

Last edited by @hesh_fekry 2023-11-14T11:55:18Z