Early on in our relationship with you, we’re going to ask members from each of your teams to set aside some time to have an in-depth conversation with us about your product. We want to hear from just about everyone: product managers, engineers, sales, marketing, customer success, and executives. Now, you may be wondering why we need to be such completists. Why can’t we just ask the CEO and find out everything we need to know? And why do we need to know so darn much?
Other companies you've worked with in the past have probably just emailed you a few basic questions about the product and left it at that. Or maybe they didn't ask you anything at all. And you were fine with that .. but did you ever wonder why no one wanted to dig deep and understand as much about your product and your customers as possible? We aren't content to merely scratch the surface. We'd be willing to bet no one has asked you to engage in such in-depth conversations, and we do it for an important reason. The more we know, the more we can help your customers succeed — and that translates into your product's success.
While everyone in your organization should be aligned around the common purpose of creating a winning product, the fact is that each discrete team has a unique role to play in the life of the product. And because of this, each team will have valuable insights into different aspects of the product that will factor into its eventual success with potential customers. In our stakeholder interviews, we are gathering as much information as we can about the purpose of the product, its potential value to customers, and the struggles and obstacles that users may face as they seek to make progress in the job they’re trying to do.
That’s a phrase you’ll hear us use a lot: the job your customers are trying to do. Because it turns out, people aren’t simply purchasing a product -- they’re purchasing a means to an end. The end is what they’re trying to accomplish -- the job. And your product, if it’s going to succeed, must help them do that job better and more successfully than anything else out there. Simply put, people are hiring your product to do a particular job with as little friction as possible. Think of it like this: People don’t want a drill, they want a quarter inch hole. And they want to make that hole with as little strain as possible.
Many of the questions we’ll ask in stakeholder interviews are geared towards seeing the bigger picture and fleshing out this all-important job. We want to understand how your product can avoid unnecessary friction. We want to learn how you can provide value. This knowledge will help you to drive adoption and create a base of avid users. And the information and insights we gather from you form the basis of a crucial step in perfecting your product: the SLOW interview.
What is the SLOW Interview?
You’re probably familiar with the traditional user interview. In these interviews, potential users are asked about various product features, what they like, what they want, what they don’t like, etc. But the fact is, it’s very difficult for them to articulate what they actually need to solve their problems. It’s not the user’s job to come up with solutions after all -- that’s your job. And listening to their laundry list of wants can create a confusing product that in the end doesn’t really address their needs at all.
But you know what users can speak about with authority? The job they’re trying to do. They can also explain how they try to do that job now, the struggles they face, and the obstacles they wish could be removed as they try to make progress.
In the SLOW interview, we dig deep. We ask targeted questions and uncover insights that help us piece together a narrative to understand every facet of the job people are trying to do. We get into your customers’ heads and uncover their thought processes, motivations, struggles, the obstacles to progress they face, and how they define success. We then use what we learn to focus on the most important components of your product to test and validate with users. And the framework for how we do this is the information we’ve gathered in the stakeholder interviews.
How Does It All Fit Together?
But you still might be wondering why we have to ask you so many questions in order to go on and dig deep with your customers. The fact is, we need the information we gather from you in order to create a road map for the SLOW interview. What we learn from you directly shapes the conversation we'll have with your customers.
Think of the questions we’ll be asking you and your team members as conversation starters. These questions will help get everyone thinking about what really matters when it comes to the success of your product and creating a base of avid users. We’ll ask each team member questions that are targeted to their area of expertise. We’ll also focus on some general questions that everyone should think about. We’d like everyone to be able to articulate the job that people might hire the product to do; and we also want to understand the problems you believe you’ll solve for your users.
Among other things, we’ll ask product managers questions about user motivations and difficulties, as well as the ways the unique value of your product is conveyed to users as they interact with the product. Then we’ll pick the brains of your marketing team to see how these concepts of value might be conveyed to users. The sales team will be able to give us insights into the challenges and successes of demonstrating your product to potential buyers; and we’ll discuss the real day-to-day struggles your users face with your product with the customer success team.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll dig deep during each conversation to uncover more and more insights that will help us shape the framework of the SLOW interview. Everything we learn will help us connect the dots and understand your customers’ hopes, frustrations, fears, and motivations so that you (we?) can create a winning product that truly solves their problems better than any other product out there.