Customer Development and Research / Customer Segmentation

Every Little Difference Counts – DIY Psychology #2

Last time, we invited the A-team of Cust Dev interviewees to a virtual psychological session. They were self-confident, smart and extroverted when being asked about their lives.

It’s time to take a look at some completely different personality profiles.

1) Little Miss Shy – the intimidated one


What are they like?

Sometimes you approach someone at a public venue and you can instantly spot the fear in their eyes just like as if they were extras in the Jaws movie. Some people just get scared or feel uneasy when they feel forced to talk to strangers and it requires smart interpersonal skills to crack them.

How to get the most out of the interaction?

There may be two basic reasons why people get scared in such situations: 1) they either have a subtle suspicion that you wanna sell something to them and get frustrated 2) or they were just not born to be a social butterfly.

To cure both problems, the main advices are the following:

1) Keep smiling, walk up to the person and tell the interviewee that you are here because you are working on this and that topic and would be glad to hear their thoughts, but you DON’T want to sell anything to them.

This latter seems like a no brainer, but we might forget about this introductory ice breaker when we are in a live situation full of adrenaline. Unfortunately, people have met too many agents, fundraisers and such on the street, so it really takes charm and “sales” techniques to convince them to chat without worries.

2) If you feel that the main problem is that someone is too shy and doesn’t have good social skills, start with a topic that seems to excite them. Look out for any sign: what book have they been reading; did they come by bike; do they have a dog; are they a hardcore rocker, whatever.

Obviously, you don’t have to act like a freak (or someone hitting on them), but after you told them who you are and what you want and feel that there’s too much awkward silence and puzzled looks, you can come up with some ice-breaking comments.

2) Little Miss Yes – the conformist


What are they like?

According to the official “literature”, she always agrees on everything. Good sign? Eeeeeeh. Not. Because the people who do that will unlikely provide valuable information regarding what you already DO right and what you still DON’T.

Sadly, even if someone says “yes” to everything, it doesn’t mean that they will actively act in your favour. Can it be even more disappointing? Yes: the truth is that in many cases, it’s the interviewers themselves that turn ordinary people into a Little Miss/Mr. Yes, acting like a salesman instead of a researcher and starting to convince people subconsciously.

How to get the most out of the interaction?

Tame your inner sales beast for once. Again and again and again…stop biasing the interviewee, neither in a positive nor in a negative direction.

E.g., always emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers, that you are interested in their honest opinion. Also, try to ask questions in open-ended forms (e.g. how did you find X…what are your problems / experiences regarding Y…) before getting into any detailed concept, problem or idea “pitch”.

And once you reached that point, remind the interviewees again that they should tell you whatever is on their mind and you have no expectations – you are just being really, really curious.

Short note on Mr. No, the grumpy cousine –

Mr. No always disagrees with everyone and everything.

In this case, try to formulate questions in an open-ended way so that they can actually do some mental “work” and think about their real inner opinion instead of rejecting everything like Grumpy Cat. Their mindset might even become more sophisticated.

In fact, they are quite valuable when it comes to Pain / Problem interviews – they can talk more about their long list of problems than anyone else. If there is anything that you can validate later with other people…then it was really worth it.

3) Mr. and Miss Scatterbrain – the dumb ones


Mr. Scatterbrain in the internet folklore – spot on

What are they like?

Some interviewees are smart. Well, these people are not. We tend to approach people who are really intelligent and a great partner for conversation, but that would not be realistic.

For many services and products, it is VERY important to be understandable and usable to consumer masses. Being a fairly “democratic” tool in a mental way, too.

How to get the most out of the interaction?

Of course, the number one advice is not to be a snob. On the other hand, don’t have unrealistic expectations regarding your interviewee’s knowledge either.

Some of the common mistakes: using terminus technicus that no one out of your core area of expertise understands; subconsciously rolling your eyes when you have to explain them; expecting that your interviewee’s are aware of all their motivations and problems; asking questions that you only understand because you know the background of the story etc.

This way, it is worth asking an independent “third party” to read your survey or discussion guide before rolling it out.

Also, try to use a “consumer-friendly language”, which is really hard to achieve, I know. Try to think of the words, expressions that ordinary public media outlets use to be articulate, but not too exclusive.

Slightly adapt your verbal style to that of the partner – maybe even try to use similar expressions, sentence structures, at least in the informal “chat” parts. If the partner feels that you are not acting like a complete snoot, they may think you are a great guy that’s worth talking to.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed it.

If you wanna unleash your inner child (or DIY psychologist) and read more about the hilarious Mr. and Little Miss series, here you go:

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