Being Prepared for the Unexpected

User interviews sometimes occur in the unlikeliest of places; are you prepared for your next impromptu discussion? 

It was just earlier in the work day when I had started jotting down new user interview questions in my notebook. We've been formulating the customer and internal business journeys involved with booking in-person training courses for businesses as well as individuals. Goal 1: to begin validating our mapped assumptions with real user feedback. 

As I referenced in my previous blog post, these Post-It Note maps had actually be started a week or two before I started working at this well-known, non-profit company. Their internal CX and marketing teams were the ones formally leading the user research charge here, but I've quickly been making myself known around the office. If we're going to have any hope of making successful changes to our products with lessened risk, we were going to have to start asking better questions than, "On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the booking process?"

Anyways, after studying these wall-to-wall collections of stories, pains, emotions, and more, I had begun picking out certain ones that I thought may make good benchmarks. Ones that we can craft some solid business metrics around to help get a sense of improvement or failure in our revamped product efforts. Ones that we can unbiasedly seek out customer validation through post-experience discussions that will guide our directional decisions. 

Once you have some potential user stories of interest, pretend they're the answers you want to hear to questions you haven't asked yet. Think backwards. How could you pose an customer inquiry that isn't leading, doesn't receive just a yes/no answer, but is one that proves or disproves these mapped assumptions? That's a skill that takes practice. 

When I felt like I had a solid set of questions on paper, I wanted to put them in a place that potentially anyone from the team could access them with ease. I choose to use the online, collaborative card tool, Trello. I like its simple organisational structure and quick ability to create new card and checkbox lists as well as how easy it is for me to view and edit them from my Android phone. What a great decision this seriously turned out to be...


Hours later, my girlfriend and I had just finished having a big, at-home dinner with her family, when her mom casually mentioned how she's going to one of our company's training courses tomorrow. It was totally out of the blue and I don't even think I had told them yet that I was preparing to begin interviewing customers on precisely this subject! This was an opportunity I couldn't waste... I immediately jumped up from the table and went on a frantic search for a pen and paper. All I had to do next was open up Trello on my phone, and bam, right there I've got my full list of customer journey questions ready to go. Within the next hour, I had confirmed what I had needed to confirm about their booking process and had noted a whole slew of amazing quotes that'll become fine user story and persona influences. Best of all, this participatory research session was completely free given it was family. 

I can't wait to show this unexpected feedback to the team. Thank you, Trello, for existing and being easy to use, online or off haha. The discussion surely wouldn't have been as rewarding if I didn't have my crafted questions ready and waiting up in The Cloud. Research conversations like these must be fluid and dynamic, but having a base set of documented concepts and assumptions to cover at a moment's notice is invaluable.