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BLOG:UX Soft Skills: Client Interviews

UX Soft Skills: Client Interviews

How often has an initial client interview gone this way?

Client: “We really need a new website something that has a great user experience and really engages our customers.

Designer: “Ok great!

Hardly ever.

Asking Clients, Why?

When looking into a client’s needs the main question to ask is, _Why? _Repeating this question as much as possible often results in a client discovery meeting that goes like this:

Client: “We really need a new website something that has a great user experience and really engages our customers.”

Designer: “Why?”

Client: “Uh well, we have a business strategy that involves meeting our Q4 sales projections, we feel a new website that engages customers will be key to hitting those numbers.”

Designer: “Why?”

Client [grimaces and sits back]: “Well, we’ve seen business trail off. We’re really hoping that social media or connecting with the community would improve sales, that’s why we want the new website.

Designer: “Why has business been trailing off?

Client [rubs hand on back of neck]: “We’re not really sure but we think that customers are going to because they have a fancier website, we also had some bad reviews lately about some of our support staff.

Designer: “Why? What did those reviews say?

And so on.

There’s so much more information that’s being exchanged in this second conversation by asking first and foremost if the work that’s being requested is really the work that needs to be done. Often these business goals and needs are obfuscated early on because they’re uncomfortable topics. UX designers are rarely called in when everything is going great - we’re problem solvers first and foremost, and the main mistake that many of us make is when we’re presented with the initial problem or task that we assume that it’s the only problem that needs solving. As a general rule, you should ask why? at least five times before moving into further details.

Getting in the habit of doing this can be really annoying, so it’s important to practice this skill by finding ways to get as much information as possible without miming a pre-schooler.

Practice Asking Friends, Why?

If a friend tells you about their upcoming plans, ask them why they’re going there, why that interests them, why they didn’t go somewhere else, why are they leaving town at all, or what led them to think about doing these plans. Oddly enough, while this may sound somewhat intrusive, as a general rule people enjoy talking about themselves, and I’ve found that practicing this regularly has the side effect of others being happy for the interest you’re showing in them.

Asking Creatively

Here are a few alternative ways you can ask…

Alternate phrasing - “Please tell me more”, “Let’s explore that further….”, “What’s the main motivation behind that?

Restate what you know - “…I understand that registration is up across the board, so why are we upgrading this system?

State what you don’t know - “… I think I missed why we’re implementing the system this way.”

These are all great ways to practice asking _Why? _on a more regular basis so that you can become comfortable in digging down to the core of what a client is trying to accomplish and what their real business needs are.