So how do we solve this problem? It almost always starts with member interviews.
Why? Because if it’s members who are struggling with some aspect of your digital presence (website, AMS, LMS, community, mobile app, you name it), it’s important to get their perspective on what’s not working, what they expect, and what they need.
Some clients balk at the idea of interviewing members, worrying that it will take too long, be a bother to their members, cost too much money. Most clients, however, welcome these interviews as a way to get honest feedback about their digital initiatives. Here’s what we’ve learned when it comes to conducting member interviews:
Recruit a cross-section of members
One client gave us all new members to interview so the perspectives we got were skewed. Ideally, we want new vs. long tenured members, current vs. former members, young professional vs. mature, new to the profession vs. longtime in the industry, satisfied vs. pissed off, senior vs. entry level.
Do the interviews in person or over the phone, one on one.
Having multiple people during the interview changes the dynamic, especially if the client is listening in and the member knows the client is listening.
Connect members with their feedback
Allow members to remain anonymous but do ask if it’s okay to connect their name with their feedback so the organization can follow up.
Keep the interviews short
It’s important to keep the interviews brief, no more than 20 minutes so that members know you are being respectful of their time.
Develop questions ahead of time
and make sure they are designed to give you insight into the members’ pain points. If findability of information is the issue, ask about labeling, ask how they find information, ask if and how they use the search, ask about a recent hunt that didn’t prove fruitful.
Allow for free wheeling conversation
Do allow time for the conversation to stray a bit so that you can get unsolicited feedback about member needs, joys and frustrations. Sometimes you get lucky and you get real gems of insight because you allowed the conversation to wander. A simple, “is there anything else you wish the website did?” or “Is there anything else you wish x organization knew?” can elicit some great insights.
Thank you goes a long way
While I don’t think a thank you gift is necessary, a thank you or some type of follow up is a must. Even if it’s just a thank you email and then later on, an update on the project.
I hope you’ll include member interviews in your next digital project! You’ll be glad you did!