Simply observing how often your target customers mention your problem space among their top concerns provides vital information. Once you have acquired preliminary information from your participants, begin asking slightly more specific, but still neutral questions. For example, you could ask, “How are you currently handling your accounting?” Then, follow up by asking, “How is that working out for you? What do you like about the way you are currently doing things and what do you dislike?”
The goal is to get as much unbiased information as possible from your participants before they even know what your product does. In this way, you can avoid priming participants to answer your questions in the way they perceive you’d want them to answer.
Watch and Listen
Once focus-group participants have answered your initial questions and it’s time for them to review the product, always remember to maximize the time you spend listening and observing. If your participants are comfortable talking about what they are seeing and thinking as they go, that is a great way to learn more. Note how participants initially react to your product. When testing a product, see where participants interact with the product and ask them questions such as: “What do you think would happen if you clicked that button?” “Did that do what you expected?” “What are you doing now?” These questions help participants communicate what they are thinking while they are engaging with your product. Once they have become moderately familiar with the product, begin asking them questions such as: “What do you think this product can do?” Follow up by asking, “How do you think you would do [the thing they mentioned the product could do]?”
This approach lets the product speak for itself. It also lets participants provide raw, authentic feedback on what they are seeing and hearing about the product without your having to translate or assist in the process. Once participants have completed their review of the product, ask broader questions about the product, as well as specific questions about their responses to particular features or behaviors that you noticed. These follow-up questions are vital to the next step of the process.