As businesses and organizations continue to seek new ways to better understand their customers, user interviews have become a popular tool for gathering valuable insights. However, conducting effective user interviews is not always straightforward.
One technique that can help researchers get the most out of user interviews is the funnel technique. In this article, we’ll explore the funnel technique and its benefits, as well as dive into the specifics of funnel questions and how to use them effectively in user interviews.
What’s the Funnel Technique?
The funnel technique is a method of structuring user interviews that involves starting with broad, open-ended questions and gradually narrowing them down to more specific and focused questions. The idea is to start with general questions that allow the user to speak freely and openly about their experiences, needs, and desires, and then use this information to guide more targeted questions that help researchers gain a deeper understanding of the user’s perspective.
The funnel technique is often compared to an actual funnel, with the broad opening at the top representing the initial open-ended questions, and the narrow end at the bottom represents the more specific and focused questions. Using this technique, researchers can guide the conversation in a natural and organic way while still obtaining the specific information they need.
Related – User Research: Definition, Method, Tools and Guide
Benefits of Using the Funnel Technique
One of the main benefits of using the funnel technique in user interviews is that it helps researchers get a complete picture of the user’s experiences and needs. By starting with broad, open-ended questions, researchers can avoid making assumptions about the user’s perspective and gain a more nuanced understanding of their point of view.
In addition, the funnel technique can help researchers avoid the pitfalls of leading questions. Leading questions are questions that are phrased in a way that suggests a certain answer or biases the user’s response. When a researcher starts with open-ended questions and gradually narrows them down to more specific ones, researchers can avoid leading questions and ensure that they are getting unbiased and accurate responses.
Finally, the funnel technique can help researchers stay focused and organized during the interview. It can also ensure that they cover all of the important topics while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally.
What are Funnel Questions?
Funnel questions are the specific questions that researchers use during the user interview to guide the conversation from broad, open-ended questions to more specific and focused ones. Funnel questions typically follow a specific structure, starting with broad questions and gradually becoming more focused and specific.
Here’s an example of how funnel questions might be used in a user interview with someone who is considering purchasing a new car:
- Broad Question: “Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with cars?”
- Narrower Question: “What are some of the most important factors you consider when choosing a car?”
- More Specific Question: “Can you tell me more about why safety features are important to you in a car?”
By starting with broad, open-ended questions and gradually becoming more specific and focused, researchers can ensure that they cover all of the important topics while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally.
Why are Funnel Questions Important?
Funnel questions are important in user interviews because they help researchers to guide the conversation from broad, open-ended questions to more specific and focused ones. This approach helps to ensure that the interview covers all of the important topics while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally.
Here are some reasons why funnel questions are important:
- Helps to avoid leading questions: Funnel questions help to avoid leading questions that could bias the user’s responses.
- Facilitates in-depth exploration of topics: By starting with broad, open-ended questions and then becoming more specific, researchers can explore topics in greater depth.
- Provides structure to the interview: Funnel questions provide structure to the interview, making it easier to cover all of the important topics while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally.
How to Ask Funnel Questions
To ask effective funnel questions, follow these tips:
- Start with broad, open-ended questions: Begin the interview with a broad question that allows the user to speak freely and openly about their experiences, needs, and desires.
- Gradually become more specific: After the user has had a chance to speak freely, begin to narrow the focus of the interview by asking more specific questions that are related to the topic at hand.
- Use follow-up questions: Follow-up questions can help to clarify the user’s responses and gain a deeper understanding of their perspective.
- Avoid leading questions: Avoid questions that suggest a certain answer or bias the user’s response. Instead, focus on asking neutral questions that allow the user to provide unbiased and accurate responses.
- Keep the conversation flowing: Allow the conversation to flow naturally, and don’t be afraid to deviate from the script if the user brings up an interesting topic or idea.
Tips for Asking Effective Funnel Questions
Asking effective funnel questions is crucial for understanding and guiding a process or progression, whether it’s a sales funnel, marketing campaign, or any other sequential process. Here are some tips to help you ask effective funnel questions:
- Start with broad questions: Begin by asking broader questions that help you identify the overall goals and objectives of the funnel. These questions can be open-ended and exploratory, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the situation.
- Break it down into stages: Divide the funnel into specific stages or phases. Each stage represents a step in the process, and you can ask questions tailored to that particular stage. This helps to focus the discussion and delve deeper into the specifics.
- Be clear and concise: Ensure that your questions are clear and easy to understand. Avoid using complex language that might confuse or intimidate respondents. Keep your questions concise to maintain clarity and enable easier responses.
- Ask both qualitative and quantitative questions: Balance your questions to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative questions provide insights into thoughts, opinions, and experiences, while quantitative questions provide measurable data. This combination helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of the funnel.
- Use a mix of question types: Incorporate different types of questions to gather various perspectives and insights. Use multiple-choice questions, rating scales, open-ended questions, and Likert scale questions to capture a wide range of data. This variety can bring depth and diversity to your analysis.
- Ask probing questions: Once you have received initial responses, dig deeper with probing questions. Probing questions encourage respondents to elaborate on their answers, provide examples, or explain their reasoning. This helps you uncover valuable information and discover underlying motivations.
- Keep the questions focused: Ensure that each question pertains directly to the stage of the funnel you are addressing. Irrelevant or off-topic questions can confuse respondents and lead to inaccurate or incomplete data.
- Prioritize actionable insights: Frame your questions in a way that helps you gather actionable insights. Focus on understanding what actions can be taken to optimize or improve the funnel at each stage. This enables you to extract practical recommendations from the data collected.
- Test and refine: Iterate and refine your questions based on feedback and results. Pilot testing your questions with a small group can help you identify any ambiguities, gaps, or areas that need improvement. Continuously learning and adapting your questions will lead to better results over time.
- Maintain a conversational tone: Make your questions feel conversational and engaging. This can encourage respondents to provide thoughtful and candid responses. Avoid sounding overly formal or robotic, as it may discourage participation or limit the depth of responses.
The Funnel Technique in User Interviews
The funnel technique is a method of questioning that involves starting with broad, open-ended questions and gradually becoming more specific. This approach helps to ensure that the interview covers all of the important topics while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally.
Here are some examples of how funnel questions might be used in an interview:
- Sales interview: “Can you walk me through your typical sales process? How do you generate leads? How do you qualify them? How do you handle objections? What is your closing technique?”
- Marketing interview: “How do you plan your marketing campaigns and strategies? What is your process for identifying target audiences? What channels do you use for promotion? How do you measure the success of your campaigns?”
- Customer service interview: “Can you describe your process for resolving customer concerns and complaints? How do you gather customer feedback? How do you prioritize and escalate issues? How do you ensure customer satisfaction?”
By using the funnel technique and asking more specific questions, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of the user’s experience with the product. This can help to identify areas where the product can be improved to better meet the needs of the user.
Advantages of Funnel Questions & the Funnel Technique
- Provides a structured approach: The Funnel technique provides a structured approach to conducting user interviews that ensures all important topics are covered.
- Helps to guide the conversation: Funnel questions help to guide the conversation from broad, open-ended questions to more specific ones, ensuring that the interviewer gets the information they need.
- Allows for in-depth exploration: By starting with broad questions and gradually becoming more specific, the Funnel technique allows for in-depth exploration of topics.
- Reduces bias: The Funnel technique helps to reduce bias by avoiding leading questions that could bias the user’s responses.
- Saves time: By providing a structured approach, the Funnel technique can save time in the interview process and make it more efficient.
Disadvantages of Funnel Questions & the Funnel Technique
- Can be too rigid: The Funnel technique can be too rigid and inflexible, preventing the interviewer from exploring unexpected topics that might be important.
- May miss important topics: It could cause the interviewer to miss important topics if they are not covered in the initial broad questions.
- May not work for all interviewees: Some interviewees may not respond well to the Funnel technique, preferring a more conversational approach.
- Can feel scripted: The Funnel technique can feel scripted and impersonal, making it harder to build rapport with the interviewee.
The funnel technique and funnel questions are powerful tools for conducting effective user interviews. By starting with broad, open-ended questions and gradually narrowing down to more specific and focused ones, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of the user’s experiences and needs while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally. So, if you’re looking to conduct user interviews that provide valuable insights, consider using the funnel technique and funnel questions to guide your conversations.