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Talking with Customers? Start with the Big Picture.

Talking With Customers

Customers are waiting to tell you what they value most in the product you are designing, the very feedback you want to design the very product customers want to buy. The challenge is how to get that information, and get it in a way that makes a meaningful impact on your success.

The good news for anyone in a residential building field: customers love to talk about home. Home is one of those passionate topics where nearly everyone you meet has an opinion and is eager to share. Structuring the conversation so it helps you understand your customer is the challenge. They cannot wait to tell you.

Whether you’re talking to individuals, holding small, informal discussion groups, or conducting focus groups, conversations benefit from structure and context. Generally speaking, time is limited (two hours is the normal maximum for a conventional focus group), so you want to be sure important topics are addressed during the conversation. You also want to give your audience some context. A popular format is the funnel structure – starting big and working towards small. Start with the biggest concept. In community and home-specific research, start with the location. If evaluating important features is the goal, give them a context of house. Whatever you are testing, start with the biggest concept and work toward the smallest. It helps your customer help you.

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