5 Questions to Ask to Find Product Market Fit - User Interviews


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5 Questions to Ask to Find Product Market Fit - User Interviews

By Howie Mann on September 18, 2021 | 4 minute read

Why do most startups fail to find product market fit? beware_solutions_seeking_problems

Because our confirmation bias creates tunnel vision towards our existing solutions. Instead we should frame our focus on solving the user’s struggle.

Here are 5 questions you can ask in user interviews to validate if your startup has found product market fit.

Imagine we are a startup building solutions for mortgage brokers.

1. What progress are you trying to make in X?

Example: Q. What progress are you trying to make in finalising loan applications?

A. I’m looking for my team to close more loans and shorten the bank approval times.

2. What is your biggest struggle when trying to make progress in X?

Example: Q. What is your biggest struggle in getting bank approvals completed on time?

A. Document gathering with our customers. A single important lost or incomplete document can slow the whole process down and cause frustration amongst both lenders and borrowers, both of whom are our customers.

3. Tell me about the last time you encountered this struggle?

Example Q. Tell me about the last time you encountered this struggle? (create a timeline of the event as if you were in their shoes)

A. Last month one of our new starters had a backlog of 10 applications with one of our newer lenders. An applicant customer did not submit a key piece of information that the new lender required but this only came to light a couple of weeks after the applicant had already submitted all the documents we asked. The lender was frustrated that we missed the information (as they said they had asked us for this before) and the applicant was livid as they had already terminated their rental lease.

4. What solutions have you previously tried?

Example: Q. What solutions have you previously tried to avoid or manage this struggle?

A. We’ve used shared cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox, onboarding checklists to make sure we don’t miss things and our CRM tool to keep track of emails.

5. What didn’t you love about those solutions?

Example: Q. What don’t you love about those solutions you’ve previously tried?

A. Some of the tools create more work for our team in managing the document workflow and version control, we still have to review all the documents to make sure they are complete. As a result we still rely heavily on email to follow-up and confirm next steps with both lenders and customers but then it’s easy for us to miss things and drown in emails.

Bad User Interview Questions

User interviews to find product market fit should be framed around the user’s struggle and not solution ideas.

Bad user interview questions include:

  • What ideal solution would you like to solve your struggle? ❌
  • Do you have any feedback on our solution? ❌
  • Would you use this solution if we offered it? ❌
  • What do you think we could do to improve your process? ❌
  • Do you know anyone else in your company who would use our solution? ❌

User Interview Insights

Following the insights from our 5 user interview questions we are now better able to frame the struggle for our mortgage broker manager as:

“Communicating between lenders and customers the missing information needed to complete a loan application”

Solutions we can now explore to solve the problem could include:

  • Assignees for onboarding docs (whose court is it in now) 💡
  • Automatic email reminders of incomplete docs 💡
  • Auto-logging emails to capture a digital chat history 💡
  • Identify which docs have not been updated in a while 💡

Framing the challenge around the user struggle allows us to continue iterating on solutions to help users make progress instead of being fully invested into one solution.

⚠️ Beware solutions seeking problems.

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