Starting today, we’re going to ask better questions. Questions that allow you to dig deeper to unearth richer experiences. This is crucial in gaining a better understanding of why someone keeps (or stops) coming back to your programs, products or services.
When I say “dig deeper”, what I’m getting at is being strategic in how we ask questions. There’s a difference between asking questions that allow you to truly hear what someone is saying, and asking questions because you’re searching for certain types of responses.
Digging deeper, goes beyond “I love it!” or “I wouldn’t change a thing”. People are coming back to you for a reason, and these reasons can help you enhance what you’re offering, and can also inspire you to come up with creative and engaging solutions to address other needs that you’re currently not addressing.
Tips and examples
Good questions are:
- Provide a safe space for the person to feel comfortable responding to
- Stretch the person who is responding
I’ve highlighted the last point for a reason. Here’s an example:
Back in 2015, I facilitated a few focus groups for a client, a nonprofit that provides social justice oriented feminist leadership for young women of color. The focus groups were for the organization’s 6-week summer leadership program for young women of color in the New York City area. The organization wanted to know, among other things, how effective the program had been that summer.
Okay, sounds easy. I did a few site visits during the 5th week of the program to facilitate the focus groups. I had my questions ready based on the evaluation questions the organization sought out to explore. During the first focus group, I asked “Looking back on everything you’ve learned during the past 5 weeks, can you share something that you would change?” Some of the responses I got looked similar to “I loved everything!” or “I wouldn’t change a thing” or “Everything was good”.
Initially, I chalked it up to the participants being teenagers. Then I realized they were responding this way because of HOW I asked the question.
So, I tried a different approach for the second and third focus groups: